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  • Writer's pictureMacLellan Bagpipes

The Pipes Are Calling

In Wake County, a native of Scotland teaches others how to craft beautiful bagpipes — and the art of playing them. by Rebecca Woltz

Roddy MacLellan — wearing a tartan designed for his company’s 25th anniversary — crafted the popular Antique Edition bagpipe based on an 18th-century set that he restored. PHOTOGRAPH BY GEOFF WOOD

Roddy MacLellan began playing bagpipes as a kid in Glasgow, Scotland. Eventually, his interest faded, but after immigrating to the United States in 1980 and seeing pipers at a Scottish event, he was inspired to pick up the instrument again. “The sound is haunting,” the Wake County musician says. “It’s visceral; it appeals to the emotional part of your brain.”

He went to a local shop to buy a set of bagpipes, but, having studied metalsmithing and woodworking at The Glasgow School of Art, he realized that he could make an instrument of higher quality. He later left his silversmithing job to craft bagpipes full-time.

When he began thinking about retiring from his world-renowned custom bagpipe business, friends encouraged him to move to Zebulon and teach others to make the instruments because of the local bagpiping community — Raleigh is home to one of the largest pipe bands on the East Coast. Now, in his shop in downtown Zebulon, MacLellan teaches a new generation of craftspeople to carve the drones, or pipes, and engrave the metal mounts with intricate designs. He also teaches a new generation of musicians to play the instrument. He knows that not everyone loves to hear bagpipes, but for him, there’s nothing like their stirring tones.

MacLellan Bagpipes

Zebulon, NC 27597

(919) 404-9690

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