Literature of the Bagpipe – Scottish Music

By Roderick D Cannon

  1. Forerunners

ALTHOUGH it was not until well into the nineteenth century that Highland pipe music began to be published in the form in which we know it today, there are at least two early works which give specimens of pipe music as noted down by non-pipers. The first is a collection of ‘Ancient Scots Music’ arranged for violin, harpsichord or flute, by Daniel Dow.1 According to John Glen,2 Dow was born in 1732, and died in Edinburgh, January 20th, 1783, having lived there since 1765. He is believed to have come originally from Kirkmichael in Perthshire, but nothing is certainly known of his early life. He was, however, a noted violinist and composed several good tunes, including the strathspey Monymusk.35 There are dance tunes in this book as well, but they seem to have been included only to fill up the gaps between the longer pieces which form the main content — ‘ports, salutations, marches or pibrachs’. Many of the pieces go beyond the compass of the pipe chanter, and some at least appear to derive from harp traditions, as for example Port Gordon and Da Mihi Manum; but others are undoubtedly pibrochs, extensively rearranged perhaps, but nonetheless clearly recognisable. Here are the titles of the four most obvious ones, exactly as given by Dow:

Lord Bradalban’s march, or                  — Boddich na mbrigs
Pibrach Chlann Raonailt                        — ClanRanald’s march to Edinr
jsobail ni Caoidh                                    — The Stewarts march [i.e. The Prince’s Salute]
S, fhada mar so thasinn                         — Duke of Atholl’s march a Pibrach

Another which Dow might have classed as a ‘march or pibrach’ is the Battle of Hara Law; the name is still famous but the tune is no longer known among pipers.36

Dow’s book is now very rare: it was published by subscription and evidently not reprinted. Doubtless it was too antiquarian for the taste of contemporary musicians; most books at that time were more concerned with ‘original’ or ‘new favorite’ airs; there is not much else even remotely like it in eighteenth-century Scottish music. Nowadays it seems to be valued more for the harp music than the pipe tunes; certainly it has been overshadowed by another much larger work published almost at the same time by Patrick MacDonald.

Patrick MacDonald was born at Durness in Sutherland in 1729, son of the Rev. Murdoch MacDonald, friend and patron of the poet Robb Donn MacKay.37 Both he and his brother Joseph were competent musicians and avid collectors of all kinds of Highland music. Patrick’s book (301), published in 1784 or thereabouts, is a handsome folio of some seventy pages, containing no less than 186 vocal melodies (without words), 32 country dance tunes and four pibrochs. It is the last two sections which are of most interest to pipers. Of the dance tunes, MacDonald writes,

Most of the North Highland country dances, were written down from the playing of a bagpipe performer from that district: the others were taken down from the singing or playing of the natives.

Evidently some other instrument is represented besides the bagpipe — the violin perhaps — but it is not difficult to see which tunes are which. The heading ‘North Highland Reels or Country Dances’ occurs on page 33 and evidently covers the tunes on pages 33-36 only, after which comes a page of Hebridean melodies. These are doubtless the ‘others’ not included as pipe tunes; in fact two of them extend beyond the range of the pipe chanter, two are in the wrong key for the pipes, and the other four, while feasible as pipe tunes, sound more like ‘mouth music’. Of the 24 ‘North Highland’ tunes, only one exceeds the bagpipe compass, and that by only one note; and all but two are in the correct key signature of two sharps, so that they can be played at sight on an ordinary practice-chanter. MacDonald only says that ‘most’ of the tunes are pipe tunes, and these three are presumably the exceptions. The twenty-one which remain are a fine selection of eighteenth-century pipe music, and the only disappointment is that no names are given for any of them. But a present-day piper scanning the collection will immediately recognise John MacKechnie’s Reel, The Grey Bob, The Athol Plaid, Eastwood Cottage, Arlitrach, Stumpie, The Goatherd, and a number of others.

The bagpipe on which these tunes were played was probably not the full-sized instrument but a smaller version; Patrick MacDonald plainly implies this when he goes on to speak of the pibrochs:

It was at first intended, that these dance-tunes should have concluded the work. Many respectable subscribers, however, having expressed a wish, that some of the pieces, that are played on the large or true Highland bagpipe, should be inserted: the publisher was desirous of gratifying them, as far as was consistent with his plan. With this view, he made a journey into the country of Lochaber, where he knew there was an eminent performer upon that instrument, retained in the family of a gentleman, with whom he was nearly connected: and from his playing, he wrote out four favourite pieces . . .

These are:

Cumha Mhic a h Arasaig                     — McIntosh’s Lament
Cha till mi tuille                                    — Never more shall I return.  A Bagpipe Lament.
A’ghlas mheur                                    — A bagpipe lament.
Coma leam, coma leam                      — Alike to me peace or war. – A Bagpipe March
cogadh no sith.                                       The gathering of the clans.

All four are still known under the same names and the first and third at least are still regularly played. As always with music transcribed from oral sources, there is some question of accuracy; far too many collections of folk music are of doubtful value because editors felt obliged to ‘correct’ and amplify the tunes to satisfy more educated tastes. All one can say as regards MacDonald is that a careful reading of his preface, and more especially of the music, inspires every confidence. The very diffidence with which he introduces his work is itself a recommendation:

Whoever has attempted to execute such a task . . . will readily excuse any imperfections, that may be found in the notation of these pieces. The publisher flatters himself, that if such imperfections, be discovered, they will not be thought very material, unless perhaps in the quick variations. In performing these upon the bagpipe, it is usual to introduce certain graces and flourishes, which . . . can hardly be expressed in notes . . . The publisher, however, has made as near an approach as he could, to the notes that were expressed by the performer.

The idea of presenting a traditional tune exactly as given by the untutored singer or player was then quite novel, and MacDonald himself had such misgivings about the possible reception of his work that in the first edition he inserted an ‘Advertisement’ or subsidiary preface designed as it were to soften the blow. He recommended certain of the vocal airs for the non-Highland reader to begin with, frankly admitting that they are not all of equal merit, and offered interesting musical analyses of some others. He need not have worried. ‘MacDonald’s Vocal Airs’ quickly became the standard work which it still is; there were at least four editions to follow, and the ‘Advertisement’ was not repeated in any of them. It is significant that some editions were abridged by the omission of all the prefatory matter. Clearly the book was not restricted to the scholar-amateur, but enjoyed a wide sale among professional and semi-professional musicians as well.

Among other books compiled by non-pipers, mention must be made of Albyn’s Anthology by Alexander Campbell.38 It contains the fruits of a collecting tour through the Highlands, undertaken by the author in 1815. At Gesto, in Skye, he met Captain Niel MacLeod, who had made a large collection of pibrochs, not in staff notation but in canntaireachd, the system of vocables then used by pipers for transmitting tunes orally. Campbell copied out two tunes, Piobaireachd Domhnuill Dubh and MacGregor’s Gathering, turned them into staff notation, and adapted them as musical settings of words supplied for the occasion by Sir Walter Scott. The result is of little practical value to pipers, and whereas the two poems are among the best known of Scott’s shorter works, Campbell’s settings are now forgotten.39

An anonymous collection of Highland Music was published in two volumes by Robert Purdie, c. 1823 and 1830, consisting of original slow Highland airs, pipe-reels, and cainntearachd . . .’,40 but the ‘cainntearachd’ turns out in fact to be mouth music, not pipe music, as the author himself explains:

Porst a beale or Cainntearachd’s pronounced Canderach’s are I believe a species of music peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland. Before Piano’s became so general they were universally used for dancing at small merry meetings. At larger ones Weddings, & c. there was a piper.

Two or three females sing together and seldom the dancing drowns the voice for they sing in the loudest key.41

A point of interest in this collection is that two versions are given of the same tune, the one headed Cainntearachd, or Porst a beale’, the other, Cainntearachd as is played on the pipe’, but both are in staff notation without words.

Subsequent books compiled by non-pipers are of much less interest. Worth mentioning are James Logan’s Scottish Gael (London, 1831; reprinted by John Donald Publishers Ltd., Edinburgh, 1976), which has some specimens of Highland music, including the Reel of Tulloch and the pibroch War or Peace; the Inverness Collection of Highland Pibrochs, . . . arranged for the pianoforte, Inverness, Logan & Co., in two volumes, undated; the Book of the Club of True Highlanders, by C. N. MacIntyre North, (1881), and The Gesto collection of Highland Music, by K. N. MacDonald, (1895; 2nd ed. 1898). All these contain substantial amounts of pipe music, but mostly derived from other printed sources.

  1. Pioneers

Patrick MacDonald concluded his great work by observing that it was unlikely that a truly reliable collection of Highland pipe music could be produced by anyone who was not himself a good piper, able ‘to write from his own performance, to explain the graces and mode of execution, . . . and to invent and apply proper characters to express them’. It is possible that he wrote these words unaware that just such a collection had already been compiled by his own brother. Joseph MacDonald was born in 1739, ten years after Patrick, and spent his early years at Durness.42 Like his brother, he was taught the violin by Kenneth Sutherland, of Cnocbreac;43 by the age of fifteen he was a good player and had also made ‘considerable progress’ on the pipes.42 Some years later he compiled ‘a collection of the different kinds of bagpipe music’42 which unfortunately is now lost. In 1760 he joined the East India Company and during his first voyage out to India he wrote the manuscript of his Compleat Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe. But he had not been long in India before he caught a ‘malignant fever’ and died. 42 Some considerable time later, the manuscript of the Compleat Theory was discovered in India by Sir John MacGregor Murray, 43 a senior Officer of the East India Company, and returned to Patrick MacDonald who published it in 1803 (302).

Two copies of the manuscript are known to have existed. One which was seen in Edinburgh University Library about sixty years ago is now thought to be a second draft supplied to the printer as ‘copy’ since its text corresponded with that of the published book. 44 This copy is now lost, but another which turned up in the same library in 194744 is quite clearly Joseph’s original draft; 45 it differs from the published text in many ways, and in all cases it is the published text which seems to be at fault. At one time there was a manuscript in the collection of Mr. David Laing, which was consulted by Sir John Graham Dalyell in the preparation of his Musical Memoirs of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1849), 42 but which of the two copies this was is not known.

The Compleat Theory is not a collection of tunes but a descriptive treatise, combining practical instruction with a general account of pipe music. There are analyses of the typical variation forms used in piobaireachd, and of the various modes and scales. There is only one complete tune, called simply ‘March for a Beginner’, but there are a good many short extracts scattered through the text as illustrations. Unfortunately no titles are indicated, but many of them can be identified by referring to later collections.

In the printed version the notation is rather irregular and confused, compared with later books. Grace notes are indicated sometimes as small upturned notes, sometimes as ‘plain notes’ tied in with the melody notes; sometimes by symbols and sometimes not at all. In the manuscript they are distinguished by size, the grace notes being written with smaller heads than the plain notes. Another glaring mistake in the printed version is the frequently occurring word Iuludh, which we now see to be simply a mis-transcription of Tuludh (Taorluath).

With all these faults it is not surprising that the Compleat Theory made little impact when it first appeared. No new edition was called for until quite recent times, and there is no sign that the playing styles advocated by Joseph MacDonald had any influence on early nineteenth-century practice. Yet it remains a source-book of quite unique value for students of pipe music, taking us back a whole generation earlier than the oldest subsequent records. It represents the playing technique of men who lived before the ‘45, when piobaireachd was still a flourishing culture and many of the finest compositions had been made within living memory. A new edition based on the original manuscript is perhaps the most urgent need of bagpipe literature today.

A very curious little book appeared in 1818. The Bagpipe Preceptor (303) is an instruction manual written in the form of a dialogue between an ‘Amateur’ and a Shepherd — the latter being the pupil, not the teacher as one might perhaps have expected. The author has been identified47 as Captain Robert Menzies, of a Perthshire family, and the dialogue is set in Perthshire, as appears from a few passing references. For example, the Shepherd opens the conversation by explaining his inability to play the bagpipe:

I was always very anxious to learn it, but my sheep would not allow me to wait on the MacGREGORS for instructions; . . .

and later on, asking his preceptor which hand he should place uppermost on the pipe chanter:

The celebrated MacGregors of this county use the right hand . . .

Evidently he refers to the MacGregors of Glenlyon, who figured prominently in the competitions in Edinburgh around the turn of the eighteenth century. Another topographical reference occurs when the Amateur promises to bring the Shepherd his practising chanter, ‘made by Allan MacDougall, Pipe Maker, High Street, Perth’. The MacDougalls were a well-known firm who continued in business, first in Perth, later at Aberfeldy, until well into the present century.48 The book is dedicated to Sir John MacGregor Murray, and concludes with a salute composed to him by the author.

The music in the Preceptor is written one fifth lower than the actual sound, so that the lowest note of the chanter, actually G, is expressed as middle C, as on the Union Pipe. Grace notes are indicated by a system of the author’s own invention: small numerals placed below the stave showing which fingers are to be used for gracing, i.e. number 1 is the high G grace note, number 3 the E, and so on.

It is difficult at this late date to assess the value of the Preceptor. In many points it agrees with the teaching of later books of undoubted authority, but the author confesses himself an amateur, and the grace notes he gives are so simple that they cannot possibly be correct. One statement in particular is hard to believe: he claims that Highland pipers extended the chanter scale upward by one note, ‘by stopping or pinching one half of the rear hole with your thumb, the rest of the holes being at the same time stopped close’, and that while ‘this note seldom occurs in the Piobrachs . . . you shall meet it frequently in the Reels, Strathspeys, and Quick Steps’. It is safe to say that the pinched note was never used in piobaireachd, and probably never played on the Highland pipe at all, though the Lowland pipers used it.

Captain Menzies concluded by promising to compile a collection of old and new pibrochs,

and in the hope that some abler hand will start up to improve on this original attempt at reducing the study of the Bagpipe to science, he most respectfully takes his leave.

The volume never appeared, nor was the Preceptor ever reprinted. The abler hand was already at work, and within a few years there appeared the book which inaugurated the tradition of printed pipe music as we have it today. Ever since the early 1800s the Highland Society of London had been offering special prizes for specimens of piobaireachd written out ‘scientifically’, i.e., in staff notation, as opposed to canntaireachd. The earliest claimant was Donald MacDonald (no relation of Patrick and Joseph), a pipe maker in Edinburgh, who in 1806 was voted five guineas

for producing the greatest number of Pipe-tunes, set to music by himself; and it was recommended to him, to continue his exertions in that way, and to instruct such others as might apply to him to be taught.9

Eventually in about 1822 he published his folio volume, A Collection of Ancient Martial Music of Caledonia, called Piobaireachd (304).

Donald MacDonald is rightly regarded37 as the pioneer of the modern way of writing pipe music. His main achievement was to maintain a clear distinction between the ‘plain’ notes of the melody and the grace notes, which he did by the simple device of turning the stems of the two kinds of notes in opposite directions. All the melody notes, including low G, low A and B on the treble clef have their stems pointing downwards (whereas in ordinary notation the notes below C are usually turned upward); and all grace notes are turned upward. This means that plain notes can be tied in whatever way is most appropriate to the time signature without interfering with the grace notes. The result is a clear and orderly presentation which appeals immediately to the eye. Subsequent editors have differed from MacDonald as to precisely which notes are ‘plain’ and which are grace notes, but they have all adhered to his general method.

Information about MacDonald’s life and piping background is very difficult to procure. The few available facts have mostly been summarised by Campbell.37 He was born about 1750, the son of one John MacDonald of Glenhinisdale in the Isle of Skye, and it was said of him by an acquaintance, in 1832, that he had acquired a correct knowledge of piobaireachd from the last of the MacArthurs’.49 The MacArthurs were hereditary pipers to the MacDonalds of Skye, and had conducted a piping school at Peingown. Although this is close to his reputed birthplace, there is no evidence that Donald MacDonald was actually taught there and there are some indications to the contrary. He wrote in 1828 that his experience of the bagpipe extended over fifty years,50 suggesting that he learned the pipes at the somewhat late age of 30, around 1780 or so. He does not claim any specific connection with the great schools of the past, and indeed reading ‘between the lines’ of the preface to his piobaireachd collection, he seems rather contemptuous of traditional ways of teaching, and much more concerned to assert his competence as editor and transcriber:

Many who have attempted to take down the Tunes from the directions of these Minstrels being ignorant of music, could only describe the sounds by words, which though rewarded by the Highland Society, would afford little satisfaction to those who wished to know the true character of these Airs. Indeed, so little idea seemed formerly to exist of the mystery of noting down the Pipe Music, that in a sort of College or Academy for instruction on the Great Highland bagpipe, existing not many years ago in the Island of Skye ‘the teachers made use of pins stuck in the ground instead of musical notes’. The present Publisher did not labour under this difficulty, and having had several opportunities of being in company, not only with several of these old pipers, but with intelligent musicians who had converse with others, he is enabled to present to the Public many pieces of Pipe Music . . .

The statement about ‘pins stuck in the ground’ is a quotation from Pennant’s Tour of Scotland51 and we can hardly believe that MacDonald had attended the MacArthur ‘college’ if he had to fall back on that source for a description of it. Presumably his contacts with the MacArthurs came later, perhaps after he had moved to Edinburgh, but we do not know when that was. John MacArthur, evidently an excellent player, though not an hereditary piper, settled in Edinburgh in the later eighteenth century. He appeared at the Highland Society competitions at various times from 1783 to 1790, and also taught a number of pupils “from which he was usually styled ‘Professor MacArthur’”.9

There is of course no question but that MacDonald was a competent player: he gained second prize at the Highland Society competition in 1811 and first prize in 1817. (On these occasions he was described in the minutes as respectively Piper-Major, and Piper, to the Argyleshire Militia.)9 But he seems to have been eclectic in his approach and not wholly wedded to one school: in his collection of small music he remarked on ‘the different modes of playing the bagpipe, adopted by the Northern Highlanders and those inhabiting the Western Isles’ and explained that he had decided to follow neither but to use his own settings.50

MacDonald’s book contains twenty-three pibrochs as well as a small selection of dance tunes. The pibrochs were only part of a larger collection, and MacDonald planned to publish a second volume containing the remainder, together with historical and legendary notes, always supposing that his first volume was a financial success. Evidently it was not, and the second volume was never published. The manuscript was eventually given to Mr. J. W. Grant of Elchies, from whom it passed to his grandson, General Thomason, publisher of Ceol Mor (326). In the introduction to Ceol Mor Thomason tells how he acquired the manuscript:

I am not sure, but I think that MacDonald taught the pipes to my grandfather, the late Mr. J. W. Grant of Elchies in Strathspey, . . . Many a time and oft did my grandfather, — as he used to tell me, — write from India to MacDonald beseeching him to send him his copy of the second volume, so long promised to the public; but all in vain as no answer came. He had quite given up all hopes of hearing anything more on the subject when to his great joy there came to hand the much longed for 2nd volume in manuscript. With the book was a plaintive letter from MacDonald begging my grandfather’s acceptance of the book, as no one had shown so much interest in it as he had, and the publication of the first volume had almost ruined the donor.

This is a rather surprising statement in view of the subsequent history of the first volume. Several new editions were called for, and the book was in its third edition as early as 1833, if not before. At this time MacDonald was still in the pipe-making business, and remained so until his death in 1840,52 during which time he published, in partnership with one of his sons, a book of quicksteps etc. which also went through several editions. But the piobaireachd collection was appearing under the imprint of a different publisher, Alexander Robertson. Perhaps what happened was that sales were very slow to begin with, and only picked up later as pipers began to realise the value of the book. But it was published entirely at MacDonald’s expense (the first edition carries no list of subscribers, nor any acknowledgement of financial help from the Highland Society), and for a man in a small way of business a poor return on such an investment would be a serious matter.53 Alexander Robertson was an established publisher with premises in the most fashionable part of Edinburgh; presumably he could afford to take a longer view, but was still unwilling to finance a second volume of the same sort.

Although MacDonald’s book was perfectly serviceable, and judging from its reprints (at least one more c. 1870), eventually successful, it was to be eclipsed by the larger collection of Angus MacKay. Angus MacKay is indeed the dominant figure in the nineteenth-century literature. He was born in Raasay in 1812,54 son of John MacKay, himself a famous player. He first competed in Edinburgh in 1825, and eventually gained first prize in 1835.9 In that year he entered service with Campbell of Islay, and in 1843 he became piper to Queen Victoria.55 However, he was forced to retire through ill health, and died a mental patient at Dumfries in 1859.55 His Collection of Ancient Piobaireachd (307) was published by subscription in 1838, and had evidently been in preparation for some considerable time, since the preface contains an apology for delay ‘far beyond the date when its completion was anticipated’. A prospectus issued in 1835 had set the publication date at 1st February 1836.54 MacKay had been a keen collector of pipe music at least from 1825, when he was rewarded 5s by the Highland Society for producing a specimen of written music.37 Besides his published book he left an enormous collection in manuscript, which he had begun compiling in 1826.36 It is noteworthy that the manuscript of 189 pibrochs, and the book of 61, have only one piece in common, which suggests that the two were in preparation at the same time.

Besides the pibrochs, MacKay’s book contains two long introductions, one on the history of the hereditary pipers, the other an account of the Highland Society’s competitions down to 1838; a short essay on the bagpipe, and historical notes on 51 of the tunes. Most subsequent writers have attributed all this matter to MacKay himself, but this is probably not correct; indeed his preface acknowledges the help of ‘some literary friends who assisted him in researches for the historical portion of the work’. None of these people is mentioned by name, but in the British Library copy of the 1839 edition, on the first page of the ‘Account of the Hereditary Pipers’, and on that of the ‘Historical and Traditional Notes’, the words ‘by James Logan’ have been inked in immediately below the headline. This particular copy of the book formerly belonged to Logan himself; it came to the British Library in October 1856. The writing is neat and careful and there seems no reason to doubt that it was done by Logan.56 For this reason Logan’s authorship of the historical parts is asserted in the British Library catalogue, and the same statement has been copied into the catalogue of the National Library of Scotland.

It would be very difficult to guess the authorship of the various parts of the book from internal evidence alone. It is quite clear that the historical notes come from many different sources: some are lengthy essays clearly derived from written historical memoirs; others are short anecdotes quite obviously traditional; sometimes a Gaelic verse is quoted which refers to the incident commemorated in the tune. The lengthy essay on the hereditary pipers is surely a composite of many sources of information, and very little of it had been published before. It is one of the few defects of MacKay’s work (from a modern standpoint) that he so rarely indicates his sources, and perhaps the most urgent problem facing the present-day historian of piobaireachd is the unravelling of the different strands of tradition that are combined in this great book.

The Ancient Piobaireachd must have been an immediate success, since, as already mentioned, a reprint was called for in the following year. Doubtless other editions would have followed had it not been for a change in emphasis which altered the whole course of pipe music within the next two decades; the art of piobaireachd began to give way before a rising tide of ‘small music’ — marches, strathspeys and reels, some traditional but many more newly composed to meet the demand of the new form of military music, the pipe and drum band. No new piobaireachd volume was to appear for over thirty years, by which time Angus MacKay’s collection had risen to a position of almost biblical authority among those pipers who had remained faithful to the old tradition. No subsequent publication has detracted anything from the prestige of Angus MacKay’s collection which

still remains higher than that of any other book of pipe music, and probably among those who are able to estimate its worth, as high as any other book on any branch of Celtic art.37

It has also been said37 that in all subsequent manuscript collections (written by players of standing) tunes which occur in Angus MacKay’s book are always found to be exact copies, whereas tunes which were published by Donald MacDonald are often given in different forms which can usually be traced back to one of Angus MacKay’s unpublished manuscripts. The differences between MacDonald and MacKay are in matters of notation, style and editorial policy. As regards notation, MacKay followed MacDonald, but refined the system in some respects. Notably, he made use of the distinction between two types of grace notes, the acciaccatura which in theory is infinitesimally short, and the appoggiatura which borrows its time from an adjacent plain note. This is of course quite normal in music, but we cannot simply say that MacDonald had been wrong in writing all grace notes the same way. It seems likely that his style of playing differed in many respects from MacKay’s; he uses rather more different kinds of ornamentation and tended to make them more elaborate than nowadays; in many respects his style resembled that of his predecessors Joseph MacDonald and Angus MacArthur. Remembering that Donald MacDonald was born about sixty years before Angus MacKay, it is easy to believe that we have to do with a change in playing style from one generation to another.57 Fashions of grace note usage came and went more easily, one would imagine, in the days before written music could be used to disseminate one style throughout the whole piping world. MacKay’s book came just at the time when staff notation was beginning effectively to supersede canntaireachd, and this in addition to the authority of its compiler must have helped to ensure that it was the style of the early Victorian period which eventually became fixed as the only acceptable language of piobaireachd.

  1. Early Ceol Beag

The first person to publish detailed settings of the lesser music of the Highland bagpipe was, again, Donald MacDonald, with a selection of twelve airs prefixed to his piobaireachd collection of 1822. They are all seemingly dance melodies and almost every one of them has survived in playing tradition to the present time:

Reel of Tulloch
Brose and Butter
Tulloch Gorum
Cock Crowing [i.e. Cock of the North]
Up and Waur them a’, Willie
The Grey Buck
The Amorous Lover
Cripple Malcolm in the Glen [i.e. Miss Drummond of Perth]
The Warst Carle in a’ the Warld
Mrs. McLeod of Raasay
Culcairn’s Strathspey

MacDonald soon followed this up with a collection of 120 short tunes — A Collection of Quicksteps, Strathspeys, Reels, and Jigs (306). First published in 1828, it was reprinted within a few years, and indeed it remained on sale under a succession of different imprints for more than a century.

MacDonald’s collection is a splendid cross-section of the pipe music of the day. Reels and Jigs form the bulk of it, in about equal numbers; strathspeys and quicksteps together account for about a quarter of the total number. (It is impossible to give exact figures since not all the tunes are specifically denominated, and MacDonald unfortunately uses the same time signature, ‘C’ for reels, strathspeys and quicksteps.) The ‘Quicksteps’ are what we today call marches; while the term ‘march’ was still restricted to piobaireachd, the true ‘martial music’. Donald MacDonald’s style is very different from that expounded by Joseph MacDonald sixty years previously. Joseph MacDonald had maintained that the grace notes used in reels and jigs were much the same as those used in piobaireachd; Donald MacDonald still uses some of these, but not nearly so many, and he introduces a great many shakes and doublings that have no place in piobaireachd technique at all. In the preface to this collection he remarks on the problem of settings and makes it clear that in his day there were several different styles to choose from:

The different modes of playing the bagpipe, adopted by the northern Highlanders and those inhabiting the Western Isles, must convince all that it would have been highly improper to use either, as the sphere of the Publisher’s utility would thus be circumscribed. He has therefore, followed the example of Robert Burns’ Ghost, and ‘ta’en the gate that pleased himself’. The experience of fifty years, devoted principally to the Bagpipe, and a tolerable acquaintance with other kinds of instrumental music, embolden him to recommend the following Tunes as played by himself.

We shall probably never know exactly what differences characterised the two styles referred to, but we can hardly blame MacDonald for adopting his independent policy. For one thing he was taking an appreciable financial risk with this new type of publication, and naturally he would wish to insure himself as much as possible after his experience with the piobaireachd collection. And for another, he was only doing what every other editor of pipe music has done from that day to this. In every generation the most eminent pipers feel free to modify the accepted ways of playing to some extent, and to this day no piper or publisher has thought it worthwhile to collect and compare the different styles that have existed at any one time. This is just one reminder that pipe music, of this kind at least, is not ‘folk music’, if by that term we mean a tradition which requires to be artificially fostered from without. The lack of historical record, however frustrating to the scholar, reflects the vitality of the piping tradition in modern times.

  1. The Glen Families

Donald MacDonald died in 1840,37 and his sons had all died previously. Nothing more is heard of his firm, and the plates of his books passed into other hands. It is not clear that he had any successor, in the legal sense of the word, but in later years his place in the world of piping was taken by the firm of J. & R. Glen, established in 1827, and still trading today under the same name.

There were in fact two firms of the name of Glen, both prominent bagpipe makers and publishers, and it will be as well to recount their histories so far as they are known.

Thomas MacBean Glen and Alexander Glen were brothers, born at Inverkeithing, Fife, in 1804 and 1801 respectively.58 The first to set up in business was Thomas, who appeared in Edinburgh in 1827 as a ‘broker’ — i.e., second-hand dealer, probably in furniture — at 250 Cowgate. By 1828 he was at 337 Cowgate and in 1829 at 265 Cowgate,59 and he continued as a broker until 1832, but from 1833 to 1838 he became a ‘pipe and flute maker’. In 1838 his address changed to 2 North Bank Street, and finally from 1839 onwards he assumed the title of ‘musical instrument maker’ at that address. Thomas retired from business in 1866 and was succeeded jointly by his sons John (1833-1904) and Robert (1835-1911). In 1870 or 1871 the firm extended its premises, and the date is a landmark for the bibliographer, as the address thereupon changed from ‘2’ to ‘2 & 3’ North Bank Street. The last removal was in 1911, the year of the death of the second partner; the business was carried on under the same name at 497 Lawnmarket, first by John Glen’s son Thomas (1867-1951 ),48 then by Mr. Andrew Ross until 1978, and now by Mr. Gordon Stobo.

Alexander Glen does not figure in the Edinburgh Directory59 until 1834, when he too was established as a broker, first at 321 then at 250 Cowgate. Then he expanded his business, and from 1844 to 1846 he was at two addresses: as a furniture dealer at 250 Cowgate and as bagpipe maker’ at 30 West Register Street. By 1846 he was a bagpipe maker only, but still had the two addresses, and finally by 1847 he had left both premises and set up at 30 St. Andrew Square. He remained there until 1869, but from then until his death in 1873 his publications bore his private address, 16 Calton Hill. After his death he was succeeded by his son David (born 1850)48 at 8 Greenside Place. From 1911 the firm became David Glen & Sons, the new partners being Alexander (1878-1951) and David (d. 1958). The firm closed down in 1949 and became incorporated in J. & R. Glen,45 but the copyrights of published books, and the unsold stock, were acquired in 1951 by Mozart Allan, Glasgow.60

Thomas Glen made and repaired a wide variety of instruments besides the bagpipe.61 He is said to have invented a new instrument, the ‘serpentcleide’, a wooden version of the ophicleide; and to have introduced various improvements to the Highland bagpipe such as metal tube linings to prevent shrinkage in hot climates.62 There was also in those days an appreciable trade in other forms of bagpipe. An interesting example of the Highland small pipe’ — similar in general to the Northumbrian bagpipe, but with the Highland form of chanter — signed by him, is now in the Pitt-Rivers Museum at Oxford.63 Alexander Glen and his successors seem to have been more specialist; they always advertised simply as ‘bagpipe makers’, but even so this originally covered a wide variety of instruments. An Alexander Glen price list of 1847 offers ‘Lovat Reel pipes’ and ‘Highland miniature pipes’ as standard items, and in addition ‘Union or Lowcountry pipes of all descriptions made to order’. But his publications, and those of his son, were for the large Highland pipe only.

The Glen brothers entered into music publishing almost simultaneously, but actually Alexander was the first, with The Complete Tutor for the Highland bagpipe by William MacKay, published from Alexander’s address at 321 Cowgate, and dated 1840 (308-I). Only one copy of this little book survives, fortunately in very good condition, in the Glasgow University Library. The instructions are actually very brief, and are almost solely concerned with the general theory of music, while the tunes, 100 in number, are mostly notated in an extremely simple style, with an absolute minimum of grace notes. In most tunes, grace notes are used only in order to separate two notes of the same pitch, and while the grace notes actually written in for this purpose are generally the correct ones, the general effect of the settings is bare in the extreme, and it is inconceivable that they represent the playing technique of any reputable piper. The only exceptions are some tunes apparently copied from the two books of Donald MacDonald; these follow MacDonald exactly, apart from the occasional misprint.

Not much is known about William MacKay and his piping background. He is said to have come from the Reay country (like most other people surnamed MacKay). Another story is that he was a son of John MacKay of Raasay (and therefore a brother of Angus MacKay), but this his family denied’.64 He was certainly a good player. He is first heard of in 1811 when he won fourth prize at the Highland Society’s competition; he was the Pipe Major of the Inverness-shire Militia, having been only recently appointed.9 (The previous Pipe Major was one Norman MacPherson, second prize winner in 1809.)9 He won the second prize in 1816 and first prize in 1820.9 In 1820, 1823 and 1824 he received prizes for producing specimens of written pipe music, presumably piobaireachd, and it is noteworthy that on one occasion he was criticised for offering music which was deficient in the notation of grace notes.37 From 18209 to 1840 (or later) he was piper to the Celtic Society, a body established ‘mainly for the patronage of ancient Highland manner and customs, especially the use of “the Garb of Old Gaul”’65 and he composed a march, The Celtic Society of Scotland Quickstep, which was published several times.66 It was this Society, under the Presidency of Sir Walter Scott, and with General Stewart of Garth as ‘commanding officer’, which put on a Highland military display to celebrate King George IV’s visit to Edinburgh in 1822.65

Whatever his merits as a player, his book was a poor piece of work compared with the previous works of Donald MacDonald, and within a short time it was replaced by a new edition, totally revised by the now eminent Angus MacKay. Unfortunately no copy is known of the original printing of this revised edition, but copies of two later printings exist (308-VI, 308-VII). From the title pages of these we learn that the revision was carried out in 1843, but since they quote the date of William MacKay’s collection wrongly as 1841, not 1840, there may be some room for doubt about the 1843 date as well. But the method of revision is made perfectly clear. Angus MacKay retained most of the original tunes in the same order, and indeed on the same numbered pages, but he replaced a few, lengthened a few, and inserted full grace noting throughout. The printer re-used the same plates, merely engraving the new grace notes as best he could in the spaces between the melody notes, and sometimes striking in new grace notes on top of the old. The alterations can be seen quite clearly.

Simultaneously with this revision, or perhaps very shortly afterwards, Alexander Glen issued a new book, The Piper’s Assistant (310), apparently under the sole authorship of Angus MacKay. This contained 86 pages and a total of 155 tunes, but the first 56 pages were nearly identical with the corresponding pages of the revised version of William MacKay. They were newly engraved, and in some cases slightly altered; but while the settings of the tunes were now Angus MacKay’s, the selection of tunes was still essentially William’s.

As in piobaireachd, MacKay’s settings are somewhat more rational than MacDonald’s: he uses fewer different types of grace note and applies them more systematically in relation to context. His tunes are still rather bare by modern standards (as are MacDonald’s), but a present-day piper could play them-over at sight without hesitation. In many other respects the Piper’s Assistant shows careful attention to detail. Practically every tune is named, and there are alphabetical indexes in both Gaelic and English. The preliminary exercises, although compressed into a single page, are fairly comprehensive; all the common doubling grace notes are given in the form of scales so that the learner can practise each one in every possible context. Nothing so comprehensive was to appear until David Glen published his Tutor in 1881. Even the title has an authoritative tone: ‘. . . by Angus MacKay, Piper to Her Majesty, Author of Clan Pibrachd etc. etc.’. The book was not copyright but the first edition was protected against piracy in a fashion unique among pipe music books. Each copy was apparently numbered by hand and signed MacKay’; the title page included two spaces with dotted lines for the purpose. The copy now in the National Library of Scotland is numbered 558, which argues a very large sale for a first edition.

Thomas Glen seems to have begun61 by acquiring the plates of Donald MacDonald’s Quicksteps, of which he brought out at least one edition (306-IV) under his own imprint, ‘sold by T. Glen, musical instrument maker 2 North Bank Street’. His first new work was also a tutor and collection of tunes (309). No complete copy is known, but I have seen a fragment of it in a private collection, and it can be securely dated to 1840 or later, since it contains a number of tunes clearly copied from the first edition of William MacKay. The second edition ‘In 2 vols. Inlarged’ (suggesting that the first edition was in only one volume?) fortunately survives complete. The exact dates of these books cannot yet be ascertained. The relationships between them are summarised in Figure 1, and the detailed evidence will be found at the appropriate places in the bibliography.


Figure 1. Early publications of the Glen families. The numbers at the head of each column, and preceding each item, refer to entries in the bibliography, which should be consulted for further details. The sign =>= denotes a reprinting with relatively little change in the text; the sign —>—denotes more or less extensive revision of, or addition to, the text; the sign –>– denotes evidence of copying of some part of the text from one book to the other. Entries surrounded by a dotted line denote books which are known to have existed but cannot now be traced. It will be seen that besides these entries, at least one edition of Donald MacDonald’s collection, two of William MacKay’s, and two of Angus MacKay’s, apparently remain to be discovered.

Thomas Glen does not appear to have published any other pipe music, though he did either publish or republish tutors for flute and violin.61 His sons John and Robert, however, shared with Alexander Robertson in bringing out the last edition of MacDonald’s piobaireachd, c. 1870; in 1880 they reprinted Niel MacLeod of Gesto’s canntaireachd book (305) and they continued MacDonald’s Quicksteps in response to a steady demand. Their own new pipe collection, Glen’s Collection for the Highland Bagpipe (315), was in effect a revised and expanded version of T. M. Glen’s book, containing nearly all the original tunes in more up to date settings.

Meanwhile Alexander Glen’s two publications must have been selling well, since by 1866 and 1872 they had reached their fifth and fourth editions respectively (Figure 1). In 1854 he added a new work, by John MacLachlan, (312). This consisted almost entirely of tunes previously unpublished, and on glancing through the titles one might suspect that he was tapping a new vein of tradition, from the Scottish Lowlands, for we find Adam Glen, Hallow Fair, Maggy Lauder, The Fyket, The Souters of Selkirk and other tunes of that ilk. But it seems unlikely that the author had inherited or collected these tunes from oral tradition; more likely he took them from readily available song and fiddle publications. There is a significant increase in the number of modern pipe compositions and no fewer than ten composers are mentioned by name, with 18 out of the 120 tunes. Then in 1860 came a collection apparently compiled by Alexander Glen himself, consisting almost entirely of new tunes by contemporary piper-composers (313).

Alexander Glen died in 1872, and his son David inherited four successful and reasonably up to date publications; but soon he embarked on a series of his own, larger than any yet seen. He eventually published four major works for the Highland pipe: a collection of marches etc., a tutor, a collection of piobaireachd with historical notes, and the ‘Edinburgh Collection’ combining piobaireachd and ceol beag together with a special collection for the Clan MacLean Society, and a one-volume collection of Irish music, to be described presently. The first three in particular were highly successful, so much so that a complete list of all the editions and reprints is still not possible. Details available at the present time will be found in the music bibliography proper; what follows here is an outline of Glen’s publishing career from 1876 to 1911.

He began modestly enough with David Glen’s Collection of Highland Bagpipe Music (316), two volumes of sixty tunes each, in 1876 and 1880. In the latter year he issued the first edition of his piobaireachd collection, in one volume of 25 tunes (321), and in 1881 David Glen’s Highland Bagpipe Tutor (322), a really substantial instruction manual, with 50 tunes appended, uniform in size with the Collection. This last was an immediate success. A new edition was required in 1883, and by 1886 the fourth was on sale. In this year also the first two volumes of the collection were reprinted, and production started in earnest with volumes 3 to 9, possibly 10, in quick succession down to 1892. The decade of the 1880s was perhaps Glen’s greatest period of prestige and influence. It was the time when his pipes were bought and played by almost all the professional players.67 (Fashions in chanters changed as rapidly then as they do now.) His collection of tunes was the largest in existence and his Tutor had achieved unprecedented sales. It is a measure of Glen’s confidence in his position that he next (c. 1893) undertook the reorganisation of both of his main collections. The exact date of his decision is not known, but there seems to have been a short time-lag between the appearance of book 10 of his collection and the appearance of part 11, which initiated the new policy. Hitherto each part had contained just 60 tunes, with the result that some had blank pages, at the end, possibly to be filled with advertising matter. Now the earlier parts began to be reissued under a new title with extra tunes filling the available space, and the new parts continued in the same format in quick succession to 1900. The Tutor was enlarged in the same way (to 52 tunes plus a pibroch) and thenceforth the whole work, of seventeen parts plus tutor, was offered as a one- or two-volume set, with a collective index totalling no fewer than 1100 tunes.

The piobaireachd collection was reorganised and enlarged: some time between 1895 and 1897 the original single volume was divided in two and a further five parts were added at short intervals down to 1907. It is said that Glen was assisted in this by Colin Cameron, piper to the Earl of Fife. He was a noted piobaireachd player, son of the great Donald Cameron who had been regarded by many as the supreme authority, at least after the death of his teacher, Angus MacKay. Nevertheless the collection did not get the credit it perhaps deserved, although not for want of care and attention’.67 Certainly the books do not seem to have been reprinted at any time subsequently, and copies of individual tunes, printed on single sheets at the same time as the collection proper, were still on sale only a few years ago. Perhaps the most permanently valuable feature was the volume of ‘Historic Notes’ by Henry Whyte, a work of reference still consulted. David Glen’s last major effort was, sad to say, his least successful. The Edinburgh Collection of Highland Bagpipe Music (333, c. 1903-1908) is an eleven-volume set similar in appearance to the previous series, containing 530 tunes, but far too many of them are inferior modern ones of no permanent value. A noteworthy feature is the inclusion of a considerable number of pibrochs, mostly given as ground only without variations. Possibly Glen was trying to popularise the higher branch of pipe music at a time when interest in it was at a low ebb; but if so he must have been disappointed, and none of the eleven parts achieved even a second printing.

But the comparative failure of the Edinburgh Collection should not be allowed to obscure Glen’s achievement as a whole. His influence was soon to be felt in the neglected realm of Irish pipe music; his earlier collection was a standard work and would remain so for another generation, while his Tutor has enjoyed an even longer run and is still in print today.

  1. The Glasgow Publishers

During the first half of the nineteenth century Edinburgh was the seat of the principal series of piobaireachd competitions, and of the two leading pipe makers; and all the earliest books of music were published there. It was not until the last quarter of the century that Glasgow began seriously to challenge the capital as principal centre of piping in Scotland.

The first Glasgow pipe maker to enter the publishing field was William Gunn. He was born either in 1788 or in 1798, but little is known of his early career. He won fifth prize in piobaireachd at Edinburgh in 1824,9 and competed again unsuccessfully in 1838;9 it is not known whether or with what success he competed at the various Highland Games that were beginning to be organised at that time. He composed at least one good pibroch, The Gunns’ Salute, published in 1876.68 His book (311), published in 1848, contains only ‘small music’; with 210 tunes it was the largest of its kind yet published. It would seem that a fair proportion of the tunes were already known to pipers in general, for like Donald MacDonald before him, Gunn felt obliged to justify the settings. He pointed out in his preface that his profession as pipe maker gave him every opportunity of hearing the versions of the different master players, so that, ‘If I am now found to differ from ordinary performance that difference is the result of mature deliberation, as more in accordance with musical composition adapted for the bagpipes.’

Apart from the second edition of Gunn’s book (1867), nothing more appeared in Glasgow until 1876 when Donald MacPhee issued his Selection of Music for the Bagpipe (317). MacPhee’s career is briefly outlined by Baptie.69 He was of Highland extraction, both his parents having come from Islay, but he himself was born at Coatbridge in 1841. At first he worked in the mines nearby, but he evidently showed a gift for music, first on the tin whistle, later the flute. Baptie does not say from whom he learned the pipes, but he became a most excellent player, winning many competitions, especially in strathspeys and reels. For some time he played for the Forbes brothers, a team of noted Highland dancers. About 1871 he set up as a pipe maker in West Nile Street, Glasgow, but soon moved to 17 Royal Arcade, from which address he published his books. The Selection, dated June 1876, was a substantial folio work containing 136 tunes. In later years, it was reissued by Logan & Co. (and continued by Patersons) as a two-volume set, with different title pages, in which form it is still well remembered. His other book (320) was a collection of pibrochs, likewise with instructions, anticipating David Glen’s similar work by one year. MacPhee evidently intended to continue with more piobaireachd volumes, but he died in the following year; his health had given way under the strain of running what was evidently a most successful business. The copyrights in MacPhee’s books were acquired by Logan and Co., Inverness, but the pipe-making business was continued at the West Nile Street premises by Peter Henderson.69

Next in point of time came Robert MacKinnon, another bagpipe maker. His date and place of birth are not known, but he was a prize winner at the Northern Meeting, Inverness in 1880, at which time his place of residence was 3 Brown Street, Glasgow,70 and he was then Pipe Major to the 105th Glasgow Highlanders.71 He seems to have set up in the pipe-making business in 1881 or 1882, at 12 Royal Arcade,71 and it was from this address that he published his collection of music (323) in 1884. It is a fine selection of well-established pieces, most of which have survived to the present day with little change.

In 1888 (according to Manson)72 came the first of many publications of Peter Henderson. No copy is known, but a later edition (323-II) consists of a collection of tunes preceded by instructions, presumably written by Henderson. But a different work which appeared in 1891 or thereabouts was a joint production, Henderson’s Bagpipe Tutor, with music by Henderson but instructions by Quartermaster MacKinnon, H.L.I.’ (325); and a later edition with similar text has similar title but ‘instructions by Captain MacKinnon’. This was William MacKinnon, who should not be confused with Robert MacKinnon just mentioned. Born in 1840, he is said to have been a pupil of William Gunn; he won the Gold Medal for piobaireachd at Inverness in 1866, was a Pipe Major in the 74th Regiment (Highland Light Infantry), later Quartermaster and Captain, and finally reached the rank of Major. He was a noted composer, his best known tune being The 74th’s Farewell to Edinburgh.73

A third book, Henderson’s Tutor for the Bagpipe and Collection of Music (329), appeared about 1900, with a different set of instructions written by Henderson himself. It may or may not have been reprinted — certainly I have not yet traced any later edition — but the instructional part went through several editions, being first incorporated into The Bagpipe Tutor as a replacement for William MacKinnon’s instructions; then into a new edition of Robert MacKinnon’s collection and finally into a new book with the old title of The Bagpipe Tutor. These rather complicated inter-relations are set out in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Publications of Robert MacKinnon and Peter Henderson. The numbers at the head of each column, and preceding each item, refer to entries in the bibliography, which should be consulted for further details. The sign —>— denotes a reprinting of the music text from one book to the next, sometimes however with substantial editions. The sign –>– denotes a reprinting of the instructional text from one book to the next, usually with some slight modifications. Entries surrounded by a dotted line denote books which are said to have existed but which cannot now be traced.

Peter Henderson died in 1902, but the firm continued trading under the old name, as indeed it does today. The late John MacDougall Gillies, the noted piobaireachd player, took over as manager of the bagpipe-making side of the business,74 and it would be interesting to know the extent of his influence on the music publications.

It is probably fair to say that Henderson’s (and MacKinnon’s) books were the most advanced of their time as regards settings and grace note styles, and the general quality of the music. And the same care which is so evident in the texts was bestowed also on the physical make-up of the books. They were beautifully printed throughout, and the title pages (with one exception) elegantly designed. The number of editions on sale at the same time, confusing as it is to the historian, is a testimony to their rapid sales and to the general acceptance of Henderson’s methods in the early years of this century.

  1. The Nineteenth Century — a General View

By 1900 there had been a total of 25 books published for the Highland bagpipe, most of them in the last quarter of the century, and the tradition of the instrument had undergone a total and irreversible change. As late as 1850, according to one observer who was well qualified to know, few pipers could even read written music;75 but by 1900 the tradition inaugurated by Donald MacDonald had taken a firm hold and for the vast majority of pipers the printed page had become the principal means of dissemination of new music. The rapid increase in the amount of printed music corresponds with the rise in popularity of the instrument itself; pipe bands especially multiplied, both in the army and in civilian life, in Scotland and overseas. Viewing the whole series of books published between 1822 and 1900, various trends can be discerned, such as changes in fashions of grace noting, and occasional improvements in notation, but apart from these, it is tempting to draw a dividing line and say that about the year 1860 a fundamental change took place.

Before 1860 we have a group of books — MacDonald, Gunn, MacKay, MacLachlan — broadly similar in content. They contain mainly dance music, reels and jigs with a smaller proportion of strathspeys and other forms, interspersed with a growing number of quickstep marches. Marches as we know them today probably date from about the beginning of the century, and many of the earliest ones were simply dance tunes slightly adapted for the purpose. No doubt there had always been a fund of such tunes traditionally associated with the pipes, either composed by pipers or else borrowed from other sources so long ago that they had become fully naturalised to the bagpipe. By 1860, however, we notice a new element: besides more elaborate settings of the old tunes there are more and more completely new ones expressly designed for competition playing; and many of them are by known composers. A substantial number were eventually to become so popular as to achieve ‘traditional’ status — tunes like Balmoral Highlanders or Arniston Castle are nowadays reprinted as freely and as often as were, for example, The Black Mill or The Goat Herd in the early nineteenth century — but at the same time large numbers of comparatively worthless pieces were produced which are now completely forgotten. The fact that they were printed for general circulation did not ensure that they would be played. An immediate result was that books became out of date more quickly than before, and a good example of this is the seventeen-part collection of David Glen. The early numbers of that series were essentially modern replacements of older books and contained many tunes of proven merit, but by the time the seventeenth volume was reached, there was a dire shortage of material. In 1949, when the publishers closed down, the first part was in its seventh thousand, a high sale for a nineteenth-century book; others down to part 12 had been reprinted twice or more, but the remainder were still only in the second thousand. The same publisher’s Edinburgh Collection continued where the previous series left off and none of the eleven volumes achieved so much as a second impression.

The change from old to new is neatly exemplified by the collection of William Ross, who was piper to Queen Victoria from 1854 until his death in 1891.76 His book (314), first published in 1869, was a splendid folio containing both pibrochs and short tunes, the latter abstracted from a manuscript collection of some one thousand airs amassed and augmented during a period extending over the last thirty years, . . . from old Highland Pipers and other local sources’.77 Although Ross claimed that none had been published before ‘with the exception of a few marches, strathspeys and reels’, the first edition was nevertheless mainly traditional in character, most of the tunes being anonymous and undateable. But in 1876 and again in 1885 Ross revised and enlarged the book, each time deleting a number of tunes and replacing them with new plates, while also tacking on a substantial number at the end. And whereas out of 223 tunes published in 1869, only six are attributed to named composers, the corresponding figure for tunes newly inserted in 1876 and 1885 is 73 composers named out of 234 tunes, more than ten times the original proportion.

  1. The Later Piobaireachd Collections

The revolution in ceol beag was no doubt already under way by the time the corresponding changes became evident in the printed music. Some of the classic competition tunes were composed before 1860, and they must have circulated orally and in manuscript to some extent before they were published. But with piobaireachd it seems to have been otherwise: changes have been less striking, and often they can be traced to the influence of some new publication. This was never more evident than in 1900 when General C. S. Thomason published his epoch-making collection (326).

Thomason was an officer of the Indian Army, and a lifelong piping enthusiast.78 We have already seen how he acquired the manuscript of Donald MacDonald’s projected second volume of piobaireachd. It was with this and the various published collections that he began the hitherto unattempted project of a complete edition of tunes, collated from all available sources. It is said37 that at first he believed that piobaireachd was rapidly dying out in Scotland, and that his own collection was the sole repository of many tunes; but from the 1870’s onward he was able to call on the assistance of a number of professional players, including Donald MacKay, nephew of Angus. Even so, he did not gain access to the largest and most valuable of all manuscript sources, that of Angus MacKay himself, until after the work on Ceol Mor was well advanced.

Besides compiling and editing, Thomason set about printing the plates with his own hands, for, as he explained later, ‘my only chance of avoiding the many inaccuracies incidental to copying in any form lay in being my own draughtsman and trusting to Survey Officers for the printing of my headings and placing within my reach the appliances of photozincography’. The effort involved must have been immense, to say nothing of the expense, but it seems to have been justified. Considering the complexity of the notation, there are remarkably few misprints.

Thomason’s great achievement (without which indeed he could scarcely have contemplated the task) was to condense the notation of piobaireachd to such an extent that it was possible to lay out a whole tune on a single page, and to arrange the bar lines in such a way as to bring out the metrical structure of the tune. A pibroch arranged by Angus MacKay would occupy as many as half a dozen closely printed folio pages, each new variation starting just where the previous one left off: as though a collection of poems were to be printed in the manner of prose, with no breaks anywhere except for the titles. To achieve his condensation, Thomason codified all grace notes, turns and common expressions into an alphabet of symbols so rigorously systematic that at first glance the music is practically unreadable. A great deal of space was also saved by the use of double dots for repeats wherever possible, and various other symbols to indicate the complex permutations of phrase that characterise so many tunes. The extreme examples are those tunes which Thomason called ‘Primary Piobaireachd’, where all the editor had to do was to write two phrases, A and B, and then indicate by means of symbols that each was to be played four times in the order A A B, A B B, A B.

Thomason did not publish the whole work at once; indeed there were so many preliminary publications (none of them apparently represented in any public library collection) that it will be a long time before any bibliographer is able to give a complete account of them. The earliest, probably in 1893, seems to have been a mere pamphlet setting out the Ceol Mor system of notation, with a few tunes added by way of illustration. Then there was a collection of fifty tunes, doubtless with the same introductory matter, which Manson says was published for private circulation only in 1895, although this or another edition of the same size was later offered for sale. The main collection appeared gradually in parts, perhaps in quite rapid succession; and in 1900 came the first edition in one volume, which is the one most generally known to pipers today.

The most striking feature of Ceol Mor is its small size. It is literally a pocket book, with pages smaller even than some of the pre-1870 Ceol Beg collections. The price was also very low: over 270 pibrochs for as little as 42s represented extraordinary value compared with the then current editions of Angus MacKay (61 tunes, 21s), David Glen (54 tunes, 14s) and others. Indeed for most serious players it was cheaper still, being offered on ‘special terms to professional pibroch players and pipers of British Regiments, including Auxiliary Forces’. Clearly Thomason wanted to put pibroch playing within the reach of every good player, and in the long run he succeeded, but the initial reception was disappointing. It must be admitted that the cramped notation, coupled with the poor condition of some of the zinc plates, already showing signs of wear in 1900, did not make for easy legibility. Thomason made much of his ‘new and easily acquired notation’, but it would take any player a good deal of study before he could confidently sight-read the new book.

We should perhaps hardly expect that David Glen, the only other publisher then actively engaged with piobaireachd, would receive the new book with enthusiasm. In fact he bitterly stigmatised it in one of the volumes of his Edinburgh Collection, where he set out the Ground of MacKenzie of Gairloch’s Salute in ordinary notation, and then added ‘An Example of Var. 1. As given in ‘Ceol Mor’, the ‘Standard’ of the Scottish Piobaireachd Society’. No further comment was thought necessary, it would seem, and certainly Thomason’s hieroglyphics look very obscure after the ordinary notation. Yet unwittingly Glen had conceded Thomason’s point, for although the Edinburgh Collection included a number of pibrochs, these were all severely truncated. Little more than the Ground and one variation could be accommodated on the oblong quarto page. Once the initial shock had passed, Ceol Mor inspired a new era in the appreciation of piobaireachd and, within a generation, it had been accepted into the tradition of written music. Every subsequent piobaireachd collection shows Thomason’s influence in one way or another. Thomason himself came to regret the complexity of his notational system, but once the work was launched it was of course too late to make any sweeping alteration. Revision and alteration of Ceol Mor did continue after 1900, but in a rather peculiar way. Various plates, mostly of duplicate tunes, were deleted and replaced by new versions and the process went on piecemeal for a number of years, as Thomason wrote:

The plates so corrected will be found marked with a (*), the printed page being backed by another page which may be either starred or unstarred. The object of this is the elimination of the incorrect leaf and the substitution of a corrected one, thus as it were, keeping Ceol Mor up to date . . .

Pageing and numbering given for these denote the position they would occupy in a second Edition, and the page numbering is marked by two stars. Of course the titles will not be found in the index of the First Edition, and they may be inserted at the option of the owner of the book.

Rarely indeed does an author deliberately recommend his readers to dismember his book, and one wonders how many people followed this extraordinary advice. Most of the copies now existing in libraries were purchased new at the time of first publication and have remained unaffected; it does not appear that any public library acquired any of the corrected leaves. Later editions incorporated all the new plates, together with notes and explanations of the revisions, from which the above extracts have been taken.

Two rather controversial works deserve notice: The Piobaireachd as MacCrimmon Played It and The Piobaireachd as performed in the Highlands for ages, till about the year 1808, both published by John MacLennan, in c. 1907 and 1925 respectively (337, and 351). MacLennan complained that pipers had lost the strong sense of rhythm and form which characterised the true pibroch style, and he published a number of well known tunes in settings which purported to give the true timings as originally played, without the excessively long rests and rubati which conventional writing demands. He also had ideas of his own concerning the Gaelic terminology of piobaireachd, and he introduced (or perhaps reasserted) ways of playing certain important movements in piobaireachd, contrary to Angus MacKay. In this last respect at least his ideas are now generally accepted, and no piper of standing will consent to play, for example, the so-called ‘redundant A’. But at first it was a controversial matter, and it continued to be argued (for example in the correspondence columns of the Oban Times) for many years afterwards.

Thomason had been the first editor to attempt a classification of piobaireachd into different metrical forms, and also the first to use versions from different sources in an effort to establish the most ‘correct’ settings. In two interesting volumes published in 1926 and 1929 G. F. Ross, another piping enthusiast resident in India, attempted to carry things further by printing different versions in parallel and using the established principles of form as a basis for emending the supposedly corrupt pieces (353, 354). Thomason had noticed that most pibrochs correspond to one of two metrical types, having bar arrangements 4, 4, 4, 4 or 6, 6, 4. Ross maintained that practically all exceptions to this rule had come about by corrupt transmission. Some of his emendations are well founded, but most are far too sweeping, and have fortunately been ignored by all professional players. An interesting feature of the two books is the inclusion of material supplied by Mr Simon Fraser, an old piper living in Australia. He was born in 1846; his father, born 1796, had been a pupil of Ian Dubh MacCrimmon (supplier of the tunes in Gesto’s book of 1828); and his paternal grandmother was a daughter of Charles MacArthur. But in spite of these impressive connections he seems not to have learned the pipes until after he reached Australia, where he was taught by Peter Bruce, another MacCrimmon pupil, from Glenelg. Through one source or another, Fraser was in possession of a number of unpublished tunes in canntaireachd, originally compiled by Captain Niel MacLeod, Gesto, and some of these are published in Ross’s books. Unfortunately Fraser was wont to surround his disclosures of authentic material with various and extravagant claims; among other things he proposed at least two interpretations of the MacCrimmon/Gesto canntaireachd system, hinted at alterations made by Gesto to conceal certain secrets from the general public, and referred to a book supposedly written by Gesto but ‘suppressed by the clergy’. ‘The whole matter indeed is incoherent,’ said Archibald Campbell, Kilberry, ‘as also is the correspondence Fraser conducted with several people regarding it.’79 Kilberry was a lawyer well versed in the art of interpreting documentary evidence but he was apt to under-value oral traditions. However, the present writer has nothing material to add and further speculation is deferred. What cannot be denied is that Fraser gave some excellent and otherwise unknown tunes,80 and he must have had a good deal of authentic information. A thorough examination of all the surviving letters and papers will be a worthwhile project.

The much more conservative publications of the Piobaireachd Society have so far had more influence than any others. The Society was founded in 1903, but, according to one founder-member, ‘its activities were hampered in its earlier years by disagreements about its policy’.37 The first series of publications (334) was not a success and was not reprinted, but after the first world war the Society got into its stride, and the second series (352), begun in 1925, has set a new standard of editorship. The different manuscripts and other sources have been collated, but instead of trying to arrive at a single eclectic version of each tune, the editors have usually selected one version as the basis of their printed text, while at the same time giving information in footnotes to enable the reader to reconstruct the more important alternatives for himself. The printed setting most often derives from Angus MacKay, either directly from his manuscript or published book, or indirectly through the playing practice of some recognised contemporary teacher. This is the first serious attempt at textual criticism applied to pipe music, the editor’s avowed intention being ‘to enable pipers of higher intelligence to choose for themselves the settings which they consider correct’. Thus we can now see in the variant readings the kind of latitude which the great pipers of the past were prepared to allow themselves in forming their own personal styles. At present all players are agreed as to settings, and every last grace note is held sacred. Indeed no other policy would have been feasible until recently, for as contact with the MacCrimmons, the MacArthurs, and other composers has receded into the past, the danger that the main stream of tradition will be frittered away into innumerable personal idiosyncrasies has constantly increased. But now that virtually all that can be known has been committed to writing, there is scope for the intelligent musician, studying the documents, to rediscover the styles of the past. We may never fully recover the old styles of playing — of MacDonald, MacArthur, MacGregor, and MacCrimmon — but something of each of these schools lives on in the manuscripts, and if players’ curiosity can once be aroused, there is real hope of a revival.

Another beneficial result of the study of the old records is the recovery of a number of excellent tunes which had dropped out of the oral tradition altogether. By a careful study of these records (with attention to tradition and judicious use of the generally accepted grace note forms) it has been possible to revive some of these in a convincing way. Rory MacLeod’s Lament, played from the canntaireachd by a modern expert, may or may not be as Colin Campbell had it in mind when he wrote it down in 1800, but at least we can say that we are hearing it as we would have done if it had been handed down through the school of Angus MacKay.

When the Piobaireachd Society editors began their work they assumed that the most effective means of communications between pipers was still the spoken word (i.e. canntaireachd). The printed text was simply an aide-memoire, and for this reason it was not felt necessary to reproduce on paper the exact effect of the music, with all its subtle shades of timing. Campbell of Kilberry, in his book (367), which is virtually an anthology from the Society’s collection, makes this perfectly clear: ‘the music is not necessarily . . . even intelligible to the non-piobaireachd player: call it pipers’ jargon and the writer will not complain’.37 Many pipers until recently would have gone further and condemned written music altogether as completely misleading. As recently as twenty years ago an old piper interviewed on the BBC complained that ‘it was a sad day when the piobaireachd was imprisoned in bars’. Some efforts are now being made to break through the artificial barriers imposed by a too rigid adherence to conventional time signatures. A recent series edited by Dr. Roderick Ross under the title Binneas is Boreraig (378) gives pibrochs in a rather unorthodox notation, using among other things a three-line stave instead of the usual five lines, and different colours to distinguish the variations. But the really significant innovation is that bar lines, time signatures and rests are dropped entirely, and every note is given as nearly as possible the value it has in actual performance. The settings are based on tape recordings of the tunes as played by the late Malcolm MacPherson, one of the foremost players of our time, and a companion series of gramophone records has been issued.

  1. Ceol Beag — Modern Developments

Perhaps the most striking change one notices on scanning through the collections of the last sixty years is the increasingly ‘professional’ attitude of the amateur players. A nineteenth-century collection like Ross’s contains tunes to suit every class of player; some are elaborate competition tunes but most are straightforward marches, strathspeys and reels, grace-noted rather sparsely and irregularly by today’s standards. The change is probably due to the continued prestige of competitions: as the number of pipers has increased, more and more have tried to emulate the styles of the master players. Old tunes are constantly being revised and reset and, as far as the literature is concerned, the result is a steady turnover of new publications suited to each generation.

At the same time it is probably fair to say that standards of composition have risen as well. The late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century books now seem overloaded with turgid and similar tunes, which but for the accident of printing would not have survived. But the last fifty years have seen a conscious effort to raise the quality of the general repertoire, and books have been published specifically for that purpose. A forerunner of these books was the Cowal Collection of Modern Highland Bagpipe Music (335), a most enjoyable work which must have seemed (c. 1905) like a breath of fresh air in the rather heavy atmosphere of most contemporary collections. Not the least impressive feature is the fact that all the tunes were written by residents of Cowal (i.e. Dunoon, Argyll), and although no composers are mentioned individually, it is easy to sense the influence of one man in particular — John MacLellan, D.C.M., formerly a piper in the Highland Light Infantry. Among his many enduring compositions are The Burning Sands of Egypt (later adopted for the song Road to the Isles),81 Magersfontein, The Heroes of Vittoria, and Lochanside. These last three airs belong to a genre not previously very well represented in pipe music — that is, the marching air in 3/4 time, a medium-paced tune with a ‘rolling’ gait, almost restful in comparison with the nervous dance-like rhythm of the quickstep march, though still much swifter in tempo than the slow march or lament. It has often been pointed out that folk-music in general has little to offer between the two extremes of dance tempo and slow (vocal) air, but so far as the Highland pipe is concerned much has been done to fill this gap, by John MacLellan, George MacLennan, William Lawrie and other composers.

Another step in the same direction was taken by the brothers John and Archibald Campbell, editors of The Kilberry Book of Ceol Meadhonach (339), published by Henderson in 1908. These authors set out to define a new category of pipe music, the term ceol meadhonach (literally ‘middle music’) being used to describe ‘such tunes as are neither constructed to the measure of Piobaireachd, nor adapted to the quick march or dance’ — in other words slow airs and tunes of the type just mentioned. A few of the tunes in the Kilberry Book were pipe tunes of long standing, but most were newly adapted, mainly from Gaelic songs, and some have since entered the standard repertoire. In some cases the editors themselves composed additional strains to a tune already known. Apart from its musical value (though long out of print it is still greatly prized by pipers), the Kilberry Book has the great virtue from the historian’s point of view of providing notes on the origin of many of the tunes, and of specifying to what extent the airs have had to be modified to suit the limitations of the pipe chanter.

The composition of new tunes has been stimulated from time to time by competitions, especially at the Cowal Gathering, Dunoon. Selections of the best tunes submitted from among a very large number of entries were published shortly before and shortly after the first world war, and again in 1932. This last book (356) is entitled Fourth Cowal Collection . . ., the book of c. 1905 presumably being regarded as the first of the series (though it was not based on a competition, nor published by the Cowal Highland Gathering Committee). A Fifth Cowal Collection (376) is in print at the time of writing, comprising mainly tunes extracted from the previous books.

No survey of bagpipe literature can omit the growing number of books designed specifically for the use of pipe bands. Pipe playing in concert can be traced back at least to the time of the Napoleonic Wars, and the pipe and drum band (perhaps inspired by the drum and fife band) was well established by the time of the Crimea.82 But for a long time afterwards the solo performance continued to be looked upon as the essential form of piping, whether it were piobaireachd, dance music, or the artificial competition piece. The problems of securing coherent settings (to say nothing of a standard pitch) must have been formidable in the days when most pipers joined the Army fully qualified, having learned in the traditions of their native places. But today the reverse is true: most pipers now get their initial training in a military or civilian pipe band, and only later graduate to solo music. Pipe band manuals contain much the same cross-section of pipe music as other books, but there is naturally greater emphasis on marches and slow marches, while the reels, strathspeys and other dance tunes will be found to have been carefully selected as being those suitable for playing en masse with rather fewer of the difficult competition settings. The earliest publication of this kind was the Bagpipe and Drum Tutor, ‘specially compiled for bands’ by Pipe Major William Gray and Drum Major Seton, both of the Glasgow Police (347). First published in 1922 by the authors themselves, it was very soon re-issued by Patersons; and a supplementary collection of pipe tunes and drum settings was likewise published by the same authors in 1925, and re-issued by Patersons some time prior to 1932 (349). In 1934 and 1937 appeared the two volumes of the Army Manual of Bagpipe Tunes and Drum Beatings (359), and in 1936 the Standard Settings of Pipe Music of the Seaforth Highlanders (363). The Army Manual was specifically designed for massed pipe bands and concentrated on the simplest and most widely played tunes; a welcome step towards rationalisation was the fact that when the Seaforth book appeared, such tunes as were common to it and to the first Army Manual were given identical settings; and likewise the second part of the Army Manual followed the settings of the Seaforth book ‘as far as possible’. But however praiseworthy the attempt to secure uniformity may be, it cannot be said to have succeeded as yet. For one thing, the technique of piping continues to advance, and for another, there are too many divergent settings of favourite tunes, firmly established as part of the traditions of the respective Regiments. The Standard Settings of the Scots Guards (374), first published in 1954, and already many times re-issued, gives more elaborate versions of many of the tunes in the pre-war books, and so likewise does the Queen’s Own Highlanders’ collection (385, 1963). The latter book supersedes the Seaforths’ collection, the Seaforth and Cameron Highlanders having amalgamated in 1961.

Published music for drums also began with the Gray and Seton books, and since then drum settings have been included in a good many books. Tutors for drums with particular reference to pipe bands have been written by Drum Major Winter83 and Drum Major Seton,84 and a good account of all aspects of pipe band music is given in the official Tutor and Text Book of the Scottish Pipe Band Association (384). The enormous development in drum technique over the last fifty years or so has been perhaps the most spectacular of all changes that have come over the world of piping; and for anyone wishing to trace this development, it is a pity that so little has been published until relatively recently. Like the pipers of old, drummers were at first able to pass on their traditional settings by example and word of mouth; but the modern corps of drums is virtually an orchestra, and written music is becoming essential to coordinate the many different parts simultaneously played.

Of special interest has been the growth in interest in the Highland bagpipe in countries overseas. The ‘Scot abroad’ has been a familiar figure for centuries past, and the cause of piping owes much to emigres like Joseph MacDonald and General Thomason. But also in many parts of the world there are now flourishing pipe bands and a growing number of native-born pipers capable of holding their own in solo competition with the Scots at home. The Empire Book of Pipe Tunes, compiled by J. D. Ross-Watt (360; two volumes, 1934 and 1936) contains a very curious selection of tunes from all parts of the world, although it was actually published by Patersons in London. Pipe Major John Wilson, long resident in Canada and a leading figure in the trans-Atlantic piping community, published his first book in Edinburgh in 1937 (364), and two others in Toronto in 1957 and 1966 (375, 388). From the United States we have a slim manual of instructions (379) for pipe bands, by Lewis W. Davidson, who until his death not many years ago held the position of Bagpipe Director at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. There have been several books published for pipers in Brittany, where the Scottish form of bagpipe is now played alongside the historic biniou kozh; and the most recent foreign publication known to the present writer (387) is the most exotic of all: compiled by Mogens Zieler of the Copenhagen Pipers’ Club, it contains a number of standard Scottish pieces, some interesting arrangements of Danish folk tunes, and also Gwerz Maro Pontkalleg — described as the ‘Melodie funèbre d’un Marquis et Genéral de Fouesnant’ — a 6/8 slow march with Scottish-style grace notes, published under its Breton title in a book otherwise written entirely in Danish. Meanwhile at home the flow of new tunes, new settings and new books continues unabated and with such momentum that one can hardly doubt that the next two centuries of Highland piping will be as eventful and creative as the last.


1. For accounts of bagpipes played in all countries, both now and in the past, see especially A. Baines, Bagpipes, Oxford, 2nd ed., 1973; and J. H. van der Meer, Typologie der Sackpfeife’, in Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, 123-146 (Nurnburg, 1964).

2. ‘Account of the Competitions for the Prizes given by the Highland Society … to the best performers on the Great Highland Bagpipe’, in A. MacKay, Ancient Piobaireachd, (No. 307 below), pp. 15-22.


3. A collection of ancient Scots music for the violin harpsichord or German-flute, never before printed consisting of ports salutations marches or pibrachs. by Daniel Dow. Edinburgh, n.d. [ c. 1771?].

4. J. Glen, The Glen Collection of Scottish Dance Music, Edinburgh, 1895, p. ix.

5. See, however, R. D. Cannon, The Battle of Harlaw, a lost piobaireachd’, in Piping Times (Glasgow), September 1974.

6. A. Campbell, The Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor (No. 367 below). Introduction, pp. 6-19.

7. Alexander Campbell, Albyn’s Anthology, or a select collection of the Melodies and vocal poetry peculiar to Scotland and the Isles, Edinburgh, 2 vols., 1816 and 1818.

8. Campbell’s manuscript copy of ‘Piobaireachd Dhomhnuill Duibh’ still survives, however (Edinburgh University Ms. La. 52, ff. 172-176); and his copy of ‘MacGregor’s Gathering’ existed at least in the eighteen-nineties, for it is quoted in part in an article by ‘C.M.P.’ in the Celtic Monthly, vol. 3, p. 79.

(a). First number of the Celtic Melodies, being a collection of original slow Highland airs, pipe-reels, and cainnteareachd, never before published, selected and arranged by a Highlander. Edinburgh, R. Purdie, n.d. [c. 1823].

(b). A Selection of Celtic Melodies, consisting of original slow Highland airs, pipe-reels, and cainnteareachd, never before published, selected and arranged by a Highlander. Edinburgh, R. Purdie, n.d. [c. 1830].

cit., [1830], p. 22.

MacDonald, Preface to A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs (No. 301 below).

See preface to J. MacDonald, A Compleat Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe, (No. 302 below).

A. MacDonald, The Joseph MacDonald “Theory”‘, in The Scots Magazine, Vol. 60, pp. 210-5 (1953).

Edinburgh University MS. La. Ill, p. 804.

G. Dalyell, Musical Memoirs of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1849, p. 4.

For further details, see the bibliography.

C. Langwill, An Index of Musical Wind Instrument Makers, Edinburgh, 1962.

MacGregor, ‘John MacDonald — an adherent of Prince Charles’, in The Celtic Magazine, 3, pp. 462-6 (1878).

MacDonald, A Collection of Quicksteps etc. (No. 306-1), preface.

Pennant, A Tour of Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides, Chester, 1774.

D. Cannon, ‘The Glen Family’ in Piping Times (Glasgow), Vol. 21, No. 11 (August 1969).

The approximate cost of production of a folio music book like MacDonald’s piobaireachd collection can be gauged from the following figures drawn up by Alexander Campbell, author of Albyn’s Anthology (1816-18), and preserved among other papers of his in Edinburgh University Library (MS. La. 51, f. 340 R). The costs are for 100 copies of a volume consisting of 100 pages:


Pewter for plates                         £20-0-0

Engraving do                                20-0-0

Printing for 100 copies                     9-7-0

Printing do                                    10-0-0

Half binding in boards 1/6 each          7-10-0

Design for frontispiece                       5-5-0

Engraving do                                  21-0-0



MacDonald’s book has no frontispiece but it has 130 printed and engraved pages including the title. Taking Campbell’s figures pro rata, this would give a total of £88 approximately for an edition of 100 copies, or £70 for 50 copies. So if MacDonald ordered 100 copies and sold only half, at the published price of £l 1s, he would have lost about £35. We have no records of MacDonald’s financial dealings, so any conclusion can only be guesswork — but to put the figure into perspective, let us note that in the early nineteenth century the earnings of skilled craftsmen such as carpenters would be around £1 10s per week (J. Burnett, Plenty and Want, Pelican Books, 1968, p. 50).

A. MacLellan, in Piping Times, March 1966.

Campbell, Introduction to Piobaireachd Society Book 10 (No. 352 below).

A facsimile of Logan’s signature appears in C. N. MacIntyre North, The Book of the Club of True Highlanders, 2nd edition, London, 1891, vol. i, Plate III (facing page [v]). The handwriting seems to be the same and confirms that Logan laid claim to authorship of the passages mentioned.

For a recent review of this question see P. Cooke, ‘Changing styles in pibroch playing. Cadence E’s and beats on A’, The International Piper, 1, No. 2, pp. 12-14; vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 11-13 (June-July 1978).

D. Brown and S. Stratton, British Musical Biography, Birmingham, 1897.

Post Office Directory for Edinburgh and Leith. Each issue of the Directory runs from Whit Sunday of one year to Whit Sunday of the next.

Private communication.

The evidence of the commercial directories is supplemented by a most valuable original document, one of the firm’s early account books. Compiled first by Thomas Glen, then by his son John, it records purchases of goods and materials over the period 1838-c. 1852. By far the greatest volume of trade seems to have been in band instruments other than bagpipes. Reference to bagpipes begins in 1840 with purchases from Donald MacDonald. Then in December of that year a lathe is bought from John Glen and used to make ’12 small chainters’ for sale in the shop. Some transcripts from the book are given in the Appendix to this Bibliography, pp. 65-6.

G. Farmer, A History of Music in Scotland, London, 1947, p. 410.

Baines, cit., p. 128.

Unsigned ‘notice’ in Piping Times (Glasgow), June 1972.

65 L.G. Lockhart, Memoirs of Sir Walter Scott, London, 1900, Vol. III, pp. 433-5.

e.g. in D. MacDonald, Quicksteps (No. 306), W. MacKay, Complete Tutor (No. 308), A. MacKay, Piper’s Assistant (No. 310).

Piping Times (Glasgow), February 1969.

Ross, Pipe Music, 2nd edition (No. 314-II below).

Baptie, Musical Scotland, Past and Present, Paisley, 1894.

Report in the Inverness Courier, quoted in the Piping Times, September 1955.

Glasgow Post Office

L. Manson, The Highland Bagpipe, its History, Literature and Music, Paisley, 1901.

Piping Times, January 1973.

Piping Times, July 1969.

Glen, Early Scottish Melodies, Edinburgh, 1900, p. 91.

Piping Times, December 1974.

Ross, Collection (No. 314), Preface.

The story of the composition of the song, by Kenneth MacLeod, and the choice of tune, is told by Alastair MacGregor in The Enchanted Isles, London, 1967, p. 191.

Piping Times, November 1968.

See, e.g., ‘Lord Lovat’s Lament’, in Piobaireachd Society Collection (new series, No. 352 below), Book 9.

Fionn’ (i.e. H. Whyte), note on ‘Major General C. S. Thomason, R.E., Bengal’, in Celtic Monthly, IV. (February 1896), p. 81.

Murray, Piping in the Army’ (Lecture given at the Piobaireachd Society Conference, Middleton Hall, Gorebridge, March 1975).

I have not seen a copy of this book but it was mentioned in booksellers’lists c. 1961.

Mozart Allan’s Pipe Band Drum Tutor (Fifty years behind the drum) by Drum Major John Seton, D.C.M., B.E.M. (ex. Glasgow City Police Pipe Band). Mozart Allan, 84 Carlton Place, Glasgow, C.5, n.d. See also The Gaelic Collection of Drum Settings compiled by Willie Paterson (Clan MacRae) and Alec McCormick (Glasgow Police), John E. Dallas & Sons Ltd., London E.C.2, 1951; and Drum Major Wilson Young’s Pipe Band Drum Tutor, Part 1, 1972 (reprinted 1975), Part 2, 1977, R. G. Hardie & Co., Glasgow.