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Vancouver Backs Down On Bagpipe Busking Ban

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A ban on buskers playing bagpipes in a Canadian city has been lifted after an international outcry and anger among the world's top pipers.


Now, the ultimate test of musical tolerance: Bagpipes.


SIEGEL: The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, did not pass that test until this week. It reversed a ban on buskers playing bagpipes which, as you can imagine, was never very popular among Vancouver's pipers.

TERRY LEE: What started as the smallest complaint against a single bagpipe busker in downtown Vancouver...

SIEGEL: That's Terry Lee. He's pipe major of the Simon Fraser University pipe band. His band has won six world championships. We're hearing them right now.


SIEGEL: The noise regulation was only imposed recently. Soon, bagpipers and their fans started tweeting and blogging in protest. Millions of Canadians claim Scottish roots, which helped fuel the movement against the ban.

LEE: The Scots came out of the woodwork and out of the bushes and there's been kind of this uprising and overwhelming support for the great and traditional instrument that the bagpipe is.

SIEGEL: Supporters of noise reduction pushed back, tempers flared - well, actually, they didn't. This was Canada, so tempers simmered and, of course, everything was settled very politely. Vancouver's mayor intervened. His name is Gregor Robertson, who happens to have worn a kilt for his swearing in in deference to his Scottish heritage. He tweeted: There will be no ban on bagpipes or drums busking in Vancouver. Not on my watch.

Unless this makes you want to cancel your summer sightseeing trip to beautiful British Columbia, even bagpipers understand that there are limits. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation quotes one them, comparing bagpipes to drinking scotch. Scotch is great, he says, but you don't want to drink a whole bottle in one sitting.


SIEGEL: This is NPR News.

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