The haggis gets its own entrance music on Burns Night – here’s what it sounds like

Jan 25, 2023 17:46 | Updated: Jan 25, 2023 17:52

Traditional “haggis piping”.

Photo: Alamy

As Scotland celebrates the birth of Ayrshire’s eldest son, Robert Burns, we explore the pivotal role of haggis – a meat pudding that gets its own ‘theme’ music for one night only.

Scottish poet Robert Burns, or sometimes affectionately known as “Robbie Burns”, was born on 25 January 1759. – Effectively the second National Day of the Celtic Nation.

As well as writing poetry, Burns was also known for composing and collecting Scottish folk songs, which he often adapted.

Some of his most famous songs are “Auld Lang Syne,” sung around the world on New Year’s Day and Burns Night, and the lilting “A Red, Red Rose,” which features lyrics by Burns.

However, the song you’re most likely to hear primarily at Burns nights, or especially at Burns’ dinners, is ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That’.

why? Because it announces the arrival of haggis, of course!

read more: What are the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne and what do they really mean?

Entrance to Haggis…

Usually held on Burns Night, or the Saturday night closest to January 25th, Burns’ Banquet, a notable moment during the celebration is the haggis entrance.

Known as the national dish of Scotland, haggis is a meat pudding often made from sheep’s liver, heart and lungs. Supermarkets tend to sell alternatives such as haggis made from lamb, beef, or pork, and vegan haggis has hit shelves in recent years.

The dish is often the centerpiece of Burns’ banquets, and ceremonies of its arrival are held to solidify its importance. This includes a procession of haggis into the dining room, often accompanied by a piper playing traditional Scottish tunes.

For the most part, the song is Burns’ “A Man’s A Man For A’ That” played on bagpipes. Watch the procession of haggis to the tune of Burns below.

read more: A royal piper fanfare awakened King Charles III in his London mansion for the first time

In the procession, the chef (who made the pudding) carries the haggis, and the night piper leads or follows.

Besides a rendition of “A Man’s A Man For A’ That,” the poet’s “Brose and Butter” is also a popular musical choice.

After being processed, haggis is usually dealt with by the night’s host. Often this takes the form of Robert Burns’ poem “Speech to Haggis”.

Why is haggis piped?

Those unfamiliar with Burns Night traditions may be skeptical about the musical procession and meat pudding speech.

The first Burns Night was held in July 1801, when nine of Burns’ closest friends gathered to mark the fifth anniversary of the poet’s death.

Piper was not present at this first event, but as the Burns Night tradition spread, the pomp and circumstance surrounding the meal’s centerpiece grew to include its own music.

Scottish piper Spud the Piper, who has played for Madonna and Jamie Lee Curtis, told Classic FM that playing for Barnes’ Suppers was “a part of my career that I will never forget. ” said.

To prove just how international this celebratory night is, Spud explained that as part of his career, he has spent 14 years playing in Kazakhstan’s Burns Night event. “It was such an amazing experience. I met so many beautiful people who I am still friends with,” he said. “The event I attended was very well organized by the Atyrau Barnes Association.”

Located in the Kazakh city of Atyrau, the Barnes Society is one of over 250 ‘Barnes Clubs’ around the world founded in memory of the famous Scottish poet.

Spud recalled that when he traveled to Kazakhstan, he had haggis confiscated from him by airport security because a curious security guard wanted to try Scottish cuisine for himself. .

Actor Ewan McGregor applauds Piper toasting haggis

Actor Ewan McGregor applauds Piper as he toasts haggis.

Photo: Getty

Scottish music festival

Many composers have been inspired by Scotland’s inspiring landscapes, particularly its rugged highlands. His one of these composers was the late Peter Maxwell-Davies, who wrote a deceptively simple yet masterful solo piano piece. Say goodbye to Stromness.

Composed in the 1970s in the Orkney Islands, where Maxwell-Davies lived, the composer said during his lifetime that the work itself “almost became a folk tune.”

More fine Scottish music can be found in the Scottish lute manuscripts of Straloch and Rowarlan. These manuscripts show the earliest roots of Scottish music and are the first notation of famous songs such as ‘Flowers of the Forest’, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and ‘The Gaberlunzie Man’.

Sean Shibe, one of Classic FM’s Rising Stars in 2021, recorded some of these pieces as guitar arrangements in 2017. Hear how these lyrical lines transport you to the Celtic countryside…

read more: 10 reasons why Scotland is one of the world’s most majestic music-making nations

Relax this Saturday with a gorgeous solo classical guitar from classical guitarist Sean Shibe.

Contributor Saturday, May 13, 2017 Classic FM

Whether you’re having a burnt night, haggis, vegan haggis, or no haggis at all, we’d love to have some great Scottish music accompany your evening.

To celebrate Scottish music and the country’s great musicians, join Zeb Soanes’ Smooth Classics tonight at 7pm or check out Global Player.

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