I have been a professional bagpipe maker and researcher for more than thirty years. I was never very academic at school, but spent much of my time at the metal and woodwork shops and at the Music Department, but I did not learn to read music, so I did not make much progress with playing, because that was the way music was then taught. At the age of 26 I started to play the 'penny whistle' by ear while travelling in Africa and the Far East in 1979. At that time my inspiration was the ground-breaking recording of English dance music ‘No Reels’ by the Old Swan Band. I still have not learnt to read or write music; the growing pile of tunes I have composed relies for its transcription in to notation on the skill of my musically-literate friends.
In 1986 my brother John and I persuaded Pete Stewart to join us to form The Goodacre Brothers - the English bagpipe trio playing English dance music in three-part harmony on my pipes. The instruments that we play are developed by me and based on our researches. In addition to our two recordings, I have produced two solo CD’s; all are available at my online shop.
I am English and have spent all my working life in Scotland, which places me in the fortunate position of being able to research Scottish bagpipes also. I served on the committee of The Lowland and Border Pipers' Society for fourteen years, was chairman from 2000 to 2003, and am currently its Honorary President. The Society has been at the forefront of the current Scottish revival of interest in Scottish bellows pipes.
My particular interest in the field of Scottish piping is measuring and copying the earliest examples of 18th century Scottish smallpipes, Border pipes and Highland pipes. This is currently an exciting time for these researches as more attention is now being given to 17th and 18th century sources of pipe music.
I am constantly refining and developing the design of my pipes, researching, measuring and copying old pipes in museum collections. Two major international bagpipe museums have commissioned pipes from me. (Morpeth Chantry Museum, England and Museo Internacional De La Gaita, Gijon, Asturias, N. Spain)
Beyond the WorkshopA selection of articles from various sources, written by me at various times