Development of the Alt Pibroch Club began in May 2013 as a collaboration between J David Hester, PhD, and Barnaby Brown. The Club aims to expand contemporary pibroch interpretation by making challenging historical material easier to find, understand and integrate into musical performance. It has grown into a suite of three (soon to be four) websites with a collaborative commons philosophy. Three goals are driving its organic development:
- To provide a safe space which nurtures experimentation and the confidence to play (and to reward) alternative settings and styles, encouraging pluralism in mainstream pibroch performance.
- To make authoritative pibroch source material easier to access and understand.
- To make available cutting-edge research into all aspects of this long tradition, bringing new understanding into modern performances.
The Alt Pibroch Club consists of three sites (with a fourth to be unveiled shortly). These include:
- Musical Materials – a site for primary source material from pre-1840 (but will soon expand to include original works up to the present)
- Learning Living Pibroch – a site for discussion, performance, research literature: things to help you better understand the historical material and bring insight into your performance. (learning.altpibroch.com)
- Bibliography – a site that provides access to a definitive database of all published books on bagpipe music. (bibliography.altpibroch.com)
The Alt Pibroch ClubIt has received generous support from several quarters (see the sidebar), for which we a tremendously thankful.
Membership is not required. All materials can be downloaded, reviewed, perused without the encumbrance of registration. If you wish to post your own material (audio files, PDFs, links to YouTube, etc.), simply register (free of charge). You will be notified when we process your request. Please help us to build an atmosphere of generosity and active learning, kindling new courage to tackle the unfamiliar.
Welcome to the Alt Pibroch Club!
A few housekeeping notes
We have gathered as many extant sources as we can find (we keep finding new ones, so check back in). We publish the material in two ways: under Sources, where you can explore the different tunes in each source, and under Tunes, where you can explore the different sources for each tune and learn about the variant titles.
Every Tune page has as its title the 3-digit Piobaireachd Society catalogue number (with initial zeros for numbers below 100) and a standardized English tune title that is unique. Below this are standardised Scottish Gaelic titles with audio pronunciation, and further down the page are source spellings and alternative titles.
An Explore by Tune page lists every tune and every title associated with it (before 1841) in Piobarieachd Society number order. The best thing to do when arriving on this page is to use your browser’s Find function (cmd-F for Macs, ctrl-F on Windows) and do a search. If “macleod” doesn’t work, try “mcleod”. You may also search for tunes using the box in the sidebar.
When you visit a Source page, you will find two lists. In the first, tunes are listed in alphabetical order using source spellings; in the second, they are listed in the sequence in which they appear in the source. Note that these titles often match neither the standardized tune title nor the Piobaireachd Society Book title. We have tried to handle the organic nature of transmission in a sensible way, exposing it the way it is rather than imposing our interpretation.
All PDFs may be downloaded for free. Our file naming convention is as follows:
[3-digit PS catalogue number]-[source]_[tune number in that source]-[Standardized_English_Name]
For example: 161-Dow_20-Duntroons_Warning.pdf
In this way, an alphabetical sorting of files will group different settings of the same tune together. You will frequently notice that the name given in an early source is completely different to the standardized English name. We have taken great pains to make it easier to find the facsimile you wish to view, and in order to reduce the confusion that results from different tunes having the same title, a few of our standardized titles may be unfamiliar to you.
J David Hester, PhD