The Bagpipe Pages

From Icon to Identy: Scottish Piping & Drumming in Gothenburg

Doctoral thesis by Mats d Hermansson (2003)


The Piping Times (Vol. 55, No. 9, June 2003, page 39)

Book On Scandinavian Piping

Anyone interested in piping in Scandinavia will be certain to want a copy of 'From Icon to Identity' a meticulous examination of the subject by piper Mats Hermansson, a leading piper in Sweden. In 400 pages this thesis, done under the aegis of the Department of Musicology and Film Studies at Göteborg University, seeks to 'analyse the background to why, and the processes through which, the marginal culture of Scottish piping and drumming spread to, and developed, in Scandinavia'. A weighty tome but readable, it pays due credit to the significant contribution made to piping in the region by the likes of former Scots Guards pipe major Bob Kilgour ("a major source on inspiration and knowledge") and others.

Piping Today (No 5, 2003, page 45)

Scandinavia's piping scene

Mats Hermansson's 386-page University of Göteborg doctoral dissertation – From Icon to Identity: Scottish Piping and Drumming in Scandinavia – is a benchmark analysis of the importance of an alien music into a region of mainland Europe, albeit one which has ancient historical links with Scotland and whose cultural influences still echo in Scottish place names and languages.
    His account begins in the mid-20th century when, inspired to emulation by the colourful élan of Highland pipe bands, a handful of enthusiasts like Dane Mogens Zieler, Swedes Oscar Rundqvist, Per Colliander and Arne Boström, Finn Jorma Katrama, Norwegians Terje Andersen and Åge Jonny Jørgensen, and others began to learn the Highland pipes and establish local communities of interest that bore fruit in the formation of Scandinavian pipe bands.
    Although they may have originally fallen for a romantic icon, Scandinavians increasingly have been sustained in their interest by the wealth of music to which piping introduced them, and the spur of competition.
    In doing so, says Mats Hermansson, they have discovered an identity "as members of a small world-wide community of like-minded musicians."

© Mats d Hermansson 2008
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