The Glasgow Collection of Bagpipe Music by Robert Wallace

An update by Geoff Hore 2008-2015.  The writing in black font is from A Bibliography of Bagpipe Music. The update comments are in blue font.


Robert Wallace cannot recall the exact dates of each edition of his book but when they are located this page will be updated. New editions occurred ‘about every two years’ initially but lately the call for reprints has declined. It is still available and ‘… trickles out the door almost 25 years after publication…’ and this is an excellent indication of how pipers merit this book. There is no doubt that the frequency of reprints is a direct result of the quality of the content.

One feature of the early editions is that the music is hand written by the Scottish composer and fellow member of the Whistlebinkies, Edward McGuire. John Purser who was the manager of the Scottish Music Information Centre (and also the writer of Scotland’s Music) published the book. As an aside, Wallace points out that his famous hornpipe The Barlinnie Highlander is in Scotland’s Music but admits this version is flawed and his preferred setting is the one published in his book. Recently he sent the following information about the tune:

It was named after James Cameron Stuart former Deputy Governor at the notorious Glasgow prison Barlinnie. Jimmy (now retired) is a piper. He also liked to eschew the Governors smart suit on occasion and sometimes dressed like his inmates – prison issue denim jacket and jeans. One day I called to pick him up to take him to a band contest and there he was top half in prison issue kit (Barlinnie) and bottom half in kilt, hose and spats (Highlander). The tune at that stage was two parts and when I visited New Zealand in 1983 that fine composer and piper Stuart Finlayson said I really should get another couple added. They were composed on the long flight home, partly on the back of a Boarding Card.

One tune in this book, Mrs John MacColl, composed by John MacColl has had a chequered publication history. In 1923, the late Pipe Major Willie Ross included it (along with two other MacColl tunes) in Book 1 of his Collection of Highland Bagpipe Music (No 348). Seumas MacNeill states in the Piping Times, Vol 30, No 1, October 1977, pp 29-32 ‘Apparently Willie Ross had published these without the permission of the composer and so had to whip them out quickly.’ There appears to have been no great haste as the book went through two more revisions (dated c1934-36 and c1943) and it was in about 1949 in revision 4 these three tunes were removed and others put in their place.

Mrs John MacColl never appeared in a book again until 1985 when in quick succession it appeared in The Gordon Highlanders Pipe Music Collection, Volume II (1985), The Seumas MacNeill Collection of Bagpipe Music Book 2 (1985) and a few months later in The Glasgow Collection.

In an email to the writer, Robert Wallace recounts the story of how he got permission from John MacColl’s son to use the tune in his book:

I went to his house in Bishopton in Renfrewshire and knocked on the door. There before me moments later was John MacColl junior. I explained that I wanted the tune for the book and after a blether he eventually agreed. It transpired that he remembered Bob Hardie (my teacher and Muirheads Pipe Major) coming to his father’s house for lessons. I think that was the clincher. So I achieved something the great Willie Ross failed to do – get the right to use the tune.

In 1999 when Wallace took over as Principal of the College of Piping the music in this book was reset using a computer, a number of tunes (18) added and was then published by the College of Piping.

On the front cover are four lines of music (each from a different tune) running through the map of Scotland. When analysed it can be seen that they have links with the area of the map they transect. The top line is from The Lewis Jig and it crosses the Isle of Lewis and Harris. The next is from a traditional two-parted strathspey called The Redcoat and this cuts a line through the Strathspey region of Scotland and also where the British Army (Redcoats) conducted a number of battles during the Jacobite uprising of 1745. The third line is from The Barlinnie Highlander, a hornpipe named after a Glasgow man Jimmy Stuart. The bottom line passing through the Border regions is a fragment from the slow air For Ireland I’d Not Tell Her Name and this tunes derives from an old Scots tune called Tweedside. The River Tweed separates England from Scotland.

1  1986

Nothing is known of this edition at this time.

2  1987

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Front Cover

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p [1], title; p [2], imprint; p [3], contents; p [iv], introduction; pp 5-37, tunes (50); p 39, contents; p [40], Tune Notes..

  • The Author’s Collection. 179mm x 247mm.

The original publication date is beyond dispute. The copyright date in this edition and edition 5 both indicate the book was first published in 1986. An email from the compiler also confirms this date. The Introduction in this edition is dated April 1987 thus indicating it is a later edition.

3  ND

Nothing is known of this edition at this time.

4  ND

Nothing is known of this edition at this time.

5  2001

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Front Cover

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p 1, title; p 2, advertisement; p 3, contents; p 4, introduction; p [iv], contents; pp 5-50, tunes (68); p 51, tune index; p 52, Tune Notes.

  • The Author’s Collection. 179mm x 238mm.

The tunes in this edition have been set on the computer and according to the introduction 10 extra tunes have been added. In fact there are 18 extra tunes and the 10 tunes may have been added after the 4th edition. This will be clarified when these earlier editions turn up.

  • Rev 00 (3 November 2010)
  • Rev 01 (15 February 2011).  Adds details about the composing of the Barlinnie Highlander.

© Geoff Hore 2011