The Middletown Police Benefit Association (MPBA) Bagpipe Band is a non-profit corporation formed for the purpose of promoting the traditions culture, history, and music of the Irish, Scots and Celtic peoples and their American descendants through the development of a bagpipe band.
We are organized and dedicated to support the region’s police departments and to establish and maintain a feeling of mutual respect, cordial relations, and good will between law enforcement and the local community. We are also organized to raise and distribute funds exclusively for charitable and educational purposes for qualifying persons and organizations.
The history of the kilt stretches back to at least the end of the 16th century. It is believed that the Vikings brought it with them on their numerous raids and subsequent settlements. The word kilt derives from the Norse word Kjalta.
The kilt first appeared as a belted plaid or great kilt. It was a full length garment whose upper half could be worm as a cloak draped over the shoulder or pulled up over the head as a hood. The kilt we know of today is a small or walking kilt. It was developed in the late 17th or early 18th century. It was banned from being worn after the battle of Culloden that ended the Jacobite rebellion. It lay in disgrace for half a century until two brothers John and Charles Stuart turned up and claimed to be the grandsons of Prince Charles II. They held a document called “Vestiarum Scoticum” that appeared to describe which tartan belonged to which clan.
There had never been such a tradition in the Highlands. The people wore whatever material they had. During battles the warring clans would wear sprigs of brightly colored plants in their bonnets to tell the difference in battle. However, the great and good of Edinburgh could not wait to commission outfits that matched their names. Kilts of today are made of seven or more yards of material. The tartans cover Scotland and Ireland. They are very specific in their layout and the dimensions of the stripes in the plaids.
The most asked Question is “What’s under the kilt?” Other than the obvious, shoes and hose, it is up to the discretion of the wearer.
Double Decked busses had slatted floors and seats. Signs were posted that stated men wearing kilts were forbidden from sitting on the second level. During the French and Indian war (The 7 Years War) after the fall of The City of Louisbourg, a few Frenchmen proved un-humbled by defeat. A French Officer was impudent enough to reach under a Highlanders kilt and had his arm removed by the Highlanders broadsword.
The pipes, which most Americans are familiar with, are the Scottish Highland Bagpipes. These pipes have three drones that come out the top of the bag which produce a constant sound, a single chanter with the nine notes of the pipe scale are played on. The bag is made of sheep or elk skin which the piper presses with his arm when he wants to take a breath. This is what makes pipe music free from pauses.
When Highland Bagpipes arrived to Scotland, they quickly became a part of Scottish life. Every town would hire a bagpiper, usually out of special taxes from the wealthy families in the area, who would pipe for townspeople on all occasions. In some places the piper would play in churches in place of an organ. As time went on, the bagpipes in the British Isles evolved and various types of pipes and piping were developed. Marches, strathsplays, hornpipes, and reels were perfected and played on the Highland Bagpipes, the Lowland Bagpipes, the Northumbria pipes, and the Irish Union pipes.
Fundamentally, a bagpipe is very similar to other double-reed instruments. Except that in our case, instead of putting the reeds (pipes have 4 reeds) directly into our mouth to blow, we have a bag. The bag is filled by forcing air through the blowpipe and keeps a constant supply of air moving over all four reeds at the same time. Pressure is applied with the arm to keep the bag solid and produce a steady tone from the chanter and drones. To the right is an exploded view of the Scottish Highland Bagpipe with it’s various parts labeled.
Following the Jacobite rebellion in 1725 King George II authorized General George Wade to form six companies to patrol and police the Highlands. Their duties were to prevent depredations, bring criminals to justice, and hinder rebels. The force was known in Gaelic as Am Freiceadan Dubh “The Dark” or “Black Watch”. They were authorized to wear kilts (kilts were outlawed) and given the tartan plaid of dark green, dark blue, and black. The term Black Watch may have come from the dark tartan and the fact that they were charged to “Watch” the Highlands.
For this reason the Black Watch plaid is used by most Police Department Pipe bands today.
The original six companies were augmented to ten and eventually incorporated into the regular English forces as the 42nd Highland Regiment. After distinguishing themselves in the 7 Years War they were permitted to add “Royal” to their name. Although the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment has had several unit designation changes over the years it is still an active unit and has been continually known as the “Black Watch”.
Sergeant George Dingwall was the first officer to be killed in the line of duty in the history of the Middletown Police Department. He was a charismatic supervisor who represented the true meaning of wearing a badge. Sergeant Dingwall was a family man, a supervisor, and a friend who will always be missed. “Come home with your shields or on them” was Sergeant Dingwall’s daily ending to a typical roll call. This quote embodies what every police officer should have on their mind to meet the daily challenges of this profession. Sergeant Dingwall gave the ultimate sacrifice a police officer could make and will always remain an example for police officers to aspire to be. Rest in peace Sergeant Dingwall and may you always watch over us.
St. Paddy’s Day Pup Crawl – 2016
St. Paddy’s Day Hartford – 2016
Hartford parade view from the bass drum GoPro.
Posted by Bill Rose on Monday, March 14, 2016