Development of the Alt Pibroch Club began in May 2013 as a collaboration between David Hester 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 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 curates three sites (with a fourth coming soon):
- Musical Materials – this site prioritises written notations pre-1850 and audio recordings pre-1980, but will expand to include pibrochs composed more recently. (altpibroch.com)
- Learning Living Pibroch – a haven for discussion, performance, research and new creative directions. This site serves to stimulate understanding of the historical material, fuelling insight in interpretation and inspiration in original music-making. (learning.altpibroch.com)
- Bibliography – this is the leading research database for published books on the bagpipe music of Britain and Ireland. (bibliography.altpibroch.com)
Most of the musical materials were online before the Alt Pibroch Club existed. Our mission has been to gather them together, to identify and fill the gaps, to connect them with the brightest scholarship, and to add new material (such as audio for Gaelic pronunciation) which makes them easier to find, explore and digest.
The online publication of these primary source materials has received generous support from several quarters, for which we are tremendously thankful. Please click the logos in the sidebar for more detail.
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.), please 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 publish the musical materials in two ways: under Notation by Pipers/Non-pipers, where you can explore the different tunes in each source, and under Explore by Tune, 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 title that is unique. Below this are standardized Scottish Gaelic titles with audio pronunciation, and further down the page are source spellings and alternative titles.
The Explore by Tune page lists every tune and most of the titles associated with it before 1841 in Piobaireachd 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.
The source pages under Notation by Pipers contain 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, presenting it the way it exists rather than imposing our interpretation.
The source pages under Notation by Non-Pipers contain a single list. We only list the pibrochs, whereas for sources under Notation by Pipers, we list the complete contents.
All PDFs may be downloaded for free for non-commercial playing and study uses. 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