309 – A New and Complete Tutor for the Great Highland Bagpipe by Thomas MacBean Glen

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.


1      c1840-3

I have not been able to trace a complete copy of the first edition of Thomas Glen’s Tutor, but I have seen a fragment of it, in a private collection. It comprises ten pages, 3.7 x 9.9″, bound in plain green wrappers. A handwritten note reads, ‘Bk II of Thos. Glen’s A New and Complete Tutor for the Highland Bagpipe 1st. Edition pp 27-36. The 18 airs here are reprinted in the second edition, 6 of them in Book I and the remaining 12 in Book II.’ Comparison with the second edition, described below, confirms this last statement. The style of engraving is uniform but the musical settings are not. Some tunes have clearly been lifted directly from Donald MacDonald’s collection (no. 306 above) complete with all the original grace notes, apart from a few misprints. Other tunes have very few grace notes, mostly notated as semi-quavers, and there is clear evidence that they have been taken from the original, unrevised edition of William MacKay’s collection (no. 308 above). Apart from the close similarities in the music, there are similar mis-spellings of Gaelic words, and in one tune (‘The 42nd Regt. Farewell’, p 35 of this edition) there are mistakes of timing which can best be explained by faulty copying. In William MacKay’s book the tune was arranged as two repeated parts of eight bars each; in Thomas Glen’s it has been expanded to fill a page. The repeated parts have been set out in full but the introductory notes have been wrongly incorporated into bars 8 and 24.

Thus the collection can be dated to 1840 or later – but presumably not later than the date of revision of William MacKay’s collection, which seems to have been about 1843. There is apparently no reference to it in the surviving T. Glen account book, however. (See pp 65-66 of this bibliography).

Thomas Glen, born at Inverkeithing in 1804, founded the firm, which still trades under the name of J. & R. Glen, in 1827 (Brown and Stratton). But it is not clear that he dealt in music or instruments as early as that. The first issue of the Post Office directory for Edinburgh and Leith which mentions his name is that of 1827/8 where he is listed only as ‘broker’, at 250 Cowgate. In 1828/9 he is at 337 Cowgate and in 1829/30 at 265 Cowgate. He continues to appear as ‘broker’ until 1832/3, but from 1833 to 1838 he is a ‘pipe and flute maker’. In 1838/9 he is at 2 North Bank Street, and finally from 1839 to 1866/7 he is ‘musical instrument maker’ at that address.

 2     No date


(The title page in both volumes is identical. The volume number is above the index in each book.)

  • Vol 1: title; index; pp [i-iv], tutor; p 3, finger chart, headed ‘Scale, for the Scotch Pipe.’; p 4, theory and one tune; pp 5-30, tunes (52).
  • Vol 2: title; index; pp 1-30, tunes (60).
  • National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. (Glen collection). Bound up with a copy of D. MacDonald’s collection. 4.2 x 9.75″.
  • Geoff Hore’s Collection.  Original of Vol 1. Pencilled on the title-page of Vol 1 is the date c1850. It was purchased from an Auckland second hand book dealer and she did not write the date. Neither did she have or know about Vol 2. Embossed on the title-page is: ‘James Smith and Son, Music Sellers to the Queen, 76 Lord Street, Liverpool’.  Photocopy of Vol 2.

This edition incorporates all ten pages from the fragment of the first edition described above (pp 27-36 of the fragment becoming pp 5, 26, 3, 28 and 1 of Vol 1, and pp 19, 25, 21 and 27 of Vol 2, respectively) and it may well contain the whole of the first edition, since the title-page says ‘Inlarged’, not ‘Revised’. In this edition it is possible to distinguish more than style of engraving; the tunes which are known to have come from the first edition are all in one uniform style, and the total in that style constitute about half the total number of tunes in the two volumes. As regards the tunes engraved in the other style or styles, there is again prima facie evidence of copying from Donald MacDonald’s and William MacKay’s collections, but no evidence of copying from either the revised version of William MacKay or from Angus MacKay’s Piper’s Assistant. This may imply a date of 1843 or earlier or it may simply mean that Thomas Glen refrained from ‘borrowing’ tunes from his brother’s publications. The address on the title-page is consistent with any date from 1839 to 1866 inclusive.

Brown and Stratton (1897) mention Thomas Glen’s collection, in two volumes, but make no mention of different editions, or date. Manson does not list it; in fact this is the only collection of Highland pipe music omitted by him, and it must have been long out of print. It seems to have been effectively superseded by Glen’s Collection, no. 315 below. In the copy consulted, most tunes have a large numeral, 1, 2 or 3, written in the adjacent margin in pen or pencil. These turn out to be the volume number of Glen’s Collection in which each tune appears. Since this book came from John Glen’s personal collection, it is quite possible that it is the one used by John and Robert in compiling their own book.


  • Rev 00. (19 September 2008).
  • Rev 01. (20 February 2011).  Makes a number of minor corrections. Edition numbering changed from Roman to Arabic. Copyright notice added.
  • Rev 02. (20 April 2015).   Format changed for bibliography.altpibroch.com.

© Geoff Hore 2015