361 – A New Zealand Collection of Bagpipe by Alexander Taylor Cameron

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.


I      1934

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p [i], title; pp [iii, iv], index; followed by 81 pages of tunes.

12 x 10″. Soft covers.

  • The Author’s Collection.

The great majority of tunes listed in the index seem to be modern compositions, never published elsewhere. (Information supplied by Mr. D. Varella).

Alexander Taylor Cameron was one of a family of six pipers. Their parents, Alexander and Elizabeth Taylor Cameron, had migrated from Banavie in Scotland in the late 19th century and farmed at Mataura in Southland. The Cameron farm was named Banvie after their home in Scotland. Alexander snr died in 1921 at the age of 91.

Duncan was the eldest of the brothers born about 1866 and died in 1948. Donald, born about 1872 and died in an accident in December 1924. William was born about 1880 and died 1958 and John Angus was born in 1878 and died in 1945. Lewis Turrell of Auckland owns a set of Gavin MacDougall bagpipes that have a plaque on the bass drone stating they belonged to John Cameron in 1910. The birth date of Alexander Taylor Cameron is not known at this time but he was teaching at the end of World War II and died not long after. There was another brother Angus.

At least two of the brothers, Duncan and Alexander, suffered from mental illness and spent time in a mental institution. Duncan was a highly regarded teacher and some pupils sought employment either at the hospital or in the nearby town to be close enough to get lessons.

One of Alexander’s last pupils was Alastair Fleming of Waiuku and he recalls during World War II as a teenager turning up for lessons on three or four occasions only to find that his teacher had been taken to a mental hospital for treatment.

It is believed by some in New Zealand that the Cameron’s introduced the tripling movements (see Fig 1 below) into piping.

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Fig 1.

These innovations were supposed to have occurred during WW I or in the early 1920s. The first known book to use these embellishments is in Collection of Highland Bagpipe Music and Drum Settings by William Gray and John Seton 1925.

Thanks to Dr Jennie Coleman of Dunedin for the birth and death dates of the Cameron brothers.

Unicorn Limited Inc in USA offers a reproduction on CD. See www.scotpress.com.


  • Rev 00.

© Geoff Hore