Spotlights & Profiles

Faculty & Staff Spotlights

Angus Martin is IU accountant by profession, bagpiper by passion

Nov. 2, 2016

Angus Martin is an accounting associate for the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology by day. In his free time, he is a bagpipe musician.

Angus Martin

Angus Martin performs in the Fountain Trust Pipe Band, Indiana's highest graded competitive pipe band. | PHOTO BY BAILEY BRISCOE

During the lunch hour, Martin swaps out financial documents and purchasing orders for his bagpipe. If you’ve spent your lunch time in Dunn Meadow this semester, you’ve likely had the pleasure of hearing his music ringing out across the open field. Martin has been playing the instrument since he was 8 years old, and he continues to practice daily to hone his craft.

"My dad named me Angus so that I could have a strong Scottish name and play the bagpipes," Martin said. "He started me playing when I was very young."

Over a decade later, Martin is still passionate about playing, and it has always been more than a hobby for him. 

Growing up, he played competitively with bands in every city he lived in. When he moved to Bloomington after graduating from college, he knew he had to find a band in the area to join.  That led him to the Fountain Trust Pipe Band, which is the highest graded competitive pipe band in Indiana. 

"Growing up, I was homeschooled, so I didn't get to participate in many social activities," he said. "Competing with bands was the first group activity that I was really involved with as a kid. I was enculturated into this community, and it was a huge part of my life. I really enjoy the community of it all, because it really shaped who I am today."

Martin hopes to foster this type of community for the younger generation of bagpipe players in Bloomington and around southern Indiana.

As a step in that direction, he co-founded the Bloomington Pipers' Society. Martin and the other members have a mission to encourage and improve the bagpiping music in and around the Bloomington area through "education, outreach, performance and competition." In addition, he teaches private lessons for those wanting to learn something new or those wanting to improve their talent.

Part of the reason Martin practices in such a public area of campus like Dunn Meadow, aside from it mimicking a traditional competition space, is to raise awareness and spread the word that there is a great bagpiping foundation in town. 

"I've found that Bloomington is welcoming to all types of music," he said. "There are so many wonderful arts programs here, like the Jacobs School of Music and the Cardinal Stage Company. It's a very arts-rich environment. That makes it a nice place to be doing what we are doing."

It’s evident that the music is welcomed when he plays on campus. Often, passersby will stop to listen, clap for him or share stories about how the bagpipe plays a role in their life. He has even made friends with an IU student who can occasionally be found dancing an Irish jig to his tunes. 

While Martin's accounting career doesn't have a direct correlation with his bagpipe passion, he is happy to work for an area of IU that appreciates his talent.

"Ethnomusicology doesn't have a focus on classical music. The discipline focuses on other types of non-classical music, which is where the bagpipe falls," Martin said.

Academics in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology study the historical, cultural and social contexts that surround those various types of music. Martin's personal mission aligns well with this concept, and he hopes to continue making Bloomington a bagpipe-friendly town for future generations.

Read more Faculty & Staff Spotlights stories »