Friday, October 23, 2015

Bells of Dunblane/ (insert naughty word) another deadly school attack

First a bit of history.  We lived in Longmont, Colorado on 20 April 1999 when the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado massacre occurred. My husband plays the bagpipe (how these connect...) keep reading.  In Dunblane Scotland on 13 March 1996 there was a school massacre  at Dunblane Primary School.   22 October 2015 Stockholm, Scotland there was another school attack that killed 1 student and 1 teacher before the attacker was killed......(There have been many, more you can look them up but over 180 in 16 years.) My husband, Doug, plays the bagpipe and was a member of the City of Denver Pipe Band (for how these connect...) keep reading.
Doug  wrote this out for me and since I tend to cry easily I will just post it as he wrote it.

Bells of Dunblane

It has been said that a bagpiper has a tune for every occasion.

Andrew was the Pipe Major of the City of Denver Pipe Band.  In his day job, he taught French at the Boulder Valley School District.  He lived nearby in Littleton, Colorado where his daughter, Stephanie, was a student at Columbine High School.  Stephanie was a highland dancer with the band and was well-known to other band members, of which there were nearly a hundred.

In 1998 a friend of Andrew’s visited Scotland.  While there, this friend attended a pipe concert where he surreptitiously used a pocket tape recorder to record the event.  He thought Andrew might be interested in hearing it, so he made a copy and sent the tape to him, but inadvertently forgot to include the names of the tunes.  Andrew played the tape and found several tunes he liked.  One in particular caught his attention so he wrote manuscript copies of it and shared it with members of the band.  The band included the tune in its repertoire as “The Nameless Tune.”  They played it at concerts that fall and into the next spring.

Then came the Columbine shootings.  Fifteen people, including the two shooters, were killed and 20 others wounded.  Stephanie and a friend had the good fortune to choose that day to go home for lunch and raid Andrew’s refrigerator (and skip returning to school that day).  They missed the whole thing.  Through her connection with the pipe band, Stephanie was asked if the City of Denver Pipe Band would perform at the memorial.  The band agrees and “The Nameless Tune” was included in the services.

In the summer of 1999 the City of Denver Pipe Band toured Scotland, performing at several locales well-known to pipers, including Oban.  After the performance at Oban a man came out of the crowd and said he recognized “The Nameless Tune.”  It was the “Bells of Dunblane.”

You do remember Dunblane?  On March 13, 1996 a gunman entered Dunblane Primary School and killed a teacher and sixteen children.  A piper, Robert (Bob) Mathieson , visited Dunblane at the time of the funerals and heard the bells tolling.  This inspired him to write the tune.  Without knowing its history, Andrew chose this tune to commemorate the students of Columbine High School.

The Bells of Dunblane has become the tune of choice when pipers perform for memorials to the victims of school shootings.

It has been said that a piper has a tune for every occasion.  Sadly, that is true.

Doug Stevenson,
Former member of the City of Denver Pipe Band

You can listen here:
(  is a list from February 2, 1996 until October 1, 2015



Michelle said...

What an amazing, haunting story. Thank you for writing this, the music is lovely.


Thank you for sharing in this article
I can learn a lot and could also be a reference
I hope to read the next your article updates

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