THIS is a descriptive bibliography of bagpipe music. My aim in compiling it has been to identify and locate all the music printed for each type of bagpipe played in the British Isles, to distinguish the various editions of each book, to ascertain dates and authorship, and to collect together any background information which might be of interest either to players or to music historians.

Many readers, including pipers, may be surprised at the extent and variety of this literature. Altogether there are some 126 titles, some of them multi-volume compendia. The dominant tradition is, of course, that of the Scottish Highland bagpipe, but the Northumbrian small pipe and the Irish Union pipe also have a substantial printed literature. The British Isles may indeed be called the home of bagpiping, for besides these three comparatively well-known instruments, others have flourished in the quite recent past, and one, the Irish ‘Brien Boru’ pipe, was invented only in this century. Also noteworthy is the revival of the Irish ‘war-pipe’ which, although actually the same instrument as the Scottish, has a distinctive musical tradition.

Equally remarkable perhaps is the long period of time covered. The instruments themselves are of ancient origin: the Highland bagpipe has come down almost unchanged from medieval times; the Northumbrian pipes can be traced back to the seventeenth century and the Irish Union pipes to the early eighteenth century. Printed music begins with the Irish in 1746, the Scottish in 1803 and the Northumbrian about 1805. Many interesting changes in the music, and in playing practice, can be traced through the successive instruction books and collections. It is probably true to say that the majority of the tunes played at the present day in each of the major traditions have actually been composed since the period of the introduction of written music, and this alone makes the printed literature well worth the attention of the student of folkmusic.

Hitherto the greatest difficulty in the way of studying the older music has been the scarcity of the books. Not surprisingly, bagpipe music books have mostly been published in rather small numbers and once out of print have quickly become very rare. Some now exist in only one copy, as far as I know, and possibly some have been lost altogether. Very few libraries have anything like a complete collection, though with the advent of the Xerox machine it has now become possible for librarians to fill the gaps in their holdings with photocopies. In this work I have given locations of all the books consulted (excepting only those which are in print at the present time), and I hope that librarians and others interested in music will be encouraged to gather a complete collection of bagpipe music under one roof for the first time.

A music book rarely tells much of its own history. Many of the books described here are undated; most have little if any prefatory text and some are anonymous. Worse still, some of them actually give wrong information, dates and other matter having simply been copied without change from some earlier edition of the same book. For dates we have then to rely on many pieces of evidence — publishers’ names and addresses as compared with those in street directories, trade directories and the like (even telephone directories in some cases); price lists and publishers’ catalogues; dates of events commemorated in tune titles; owners’ signatures and library accession dates; names and Army ranks of composers, and so on — details scarcely significant in themselves, but, together, often enough to fix a date within a year or two. Curiously enough it is sometimes easier to date an old book than a more recent one, and of all sources of information I have to say that in general the publishers themselves are the least reliable. More than once I have enquired of a publisher only to be told that he simply cannot remember when a particular work was first put on sale.

Almost equally important is the question of how long a particular book remained available, but this is even more difficult to establish. The clearest evidence is found when an out-of-print book is replaced by another from the same publisher incorporating much of the original music, as for example Angus MacKay’s collection (No. 310 in the bibliography), replaced by Book 5 of David Glen’s collection (316); but this is exceptional. Price lists and catalogues are again of value, when dated, but beyond these there is little to record. Some books have lasted a remarkable time. David Glen’s bagpipe Tutor (322), first published in 1881, is still in print, in perhaps its 25th edition, but the record for longevity is held by Donald MacDonald’s collection (306), published in 1828 and still available in 1932 with almost identical text.

The question, what constitutes a new ‘edition’ of a book, is a very vexed one among bibliographers,* and is particularly troublesome where music books are concerned. At one extreme, the term ‘edition’ may be restricted to a work in which the text has been substantially revised, or at least augmented with new material. A book using the same text may then be described as a new ‘issue’, and one printed from the same plates, or photographically copied from a previous printing, may be called a ‘reprint. Such distinctions work well for textual matter but they are unrealistic for music. Music in the period covered by this bibliography has generally been engraved on plates, either for printing direct on to the paper or for indirect printing by photolithography; or else photolithographed from hand-drawn scripts. The processes are expensive and extensive revision in later editions is not encouraged. Among collections of bagpipe music the most significant editorial changes from one printing to the next are likely to be additions of new music (the old remaining unchanged), changes in the titles of the music, or changes in the prefatory matter, though there are instances of music being significantly altered (e.g. 304, 308, 332) or re-engraved (101, 307). For my definition, I have gone to the opposite extreme and have classed as a new ‘edition’ any printing which I can distinguish in any way from its predecessors. The alterations may not necessarily involve the music at all; as for example when a work is taken over by one publisher from another. Frequent reprinting is however one of the measures of the popularity of a book and therefore of its probable influence, so these details seem worth recording in full. To support my definition I can point to some at least of the publishers who themselves tend to use the term ‘edition’ rather freely for any new printing, however little altered; but there is no uniformity in this matter, and I must admit that the term ‘edition’ for a work which has not, strictly speaking, been ‘edited’, is not happily chosen.

Two previous bibliographies, by W. L. Manson (1901) and G. H. Askew (1932), provided the foundations of this work. Manson’s is a list of music for Scottish bagpipe only, appended to his book The Highland Bagpipe, its History, Literature and Music. Already the older books were very rare, and Manson noted that there were not many people who had anything like a full collection; yet his list is remarkably complete, and I have found only one title which he omitted (Thomas Glen’s collection, 309). His dates too are mainly accurate, though some are in error by a year or two. Manson says nothing about the sources of his information, but presumably he enquired of the various publishers. If so, he must surely have contacted John Glen, Thomas Glen’s son and successor in business, the leading authority on early Scottish music, and owner of probably the most comprehensive collection. In that case, however, it is difficult to account for the omission just mentioned.

Askew’s bibliography is wider in scope, for it covers books and articles about bagpipes as well as music, and it includes all countries. The Scottish music section incorporates Manson’s list with little change, but the rest is new material and especially valuable for the thorough coverage of Northumbrian pipe music. Apparently Askew intended to produce a second edition, and he kept up correspondence on the subject of old pipe music books for some years afterwards. In particular he got in touch with Mr. Seamus O Casaide, a noted bibliophile and enthusiast of Irish pipe music, and the correspondence, which is preserved, has been another useful source of information to me.

This is the place to mention some notable collections of music which are now publicly available. John Glen’s collection of Scottish music, which includes several unique copies of early pipe music books, is in the National Library of Scotland, the bequest of Lady Dorothea Ruggles-Brise (well known to Scottish pipers under her maiden name, Stewart-Murray). Other Scottish collections of importance include the Inglis and Murdoch Henderson collections at the National Library, the Wighton collection in the Dundee Public Library, and the collection of George Wilkie, the noted piobaireachd player, also at Dundee. Preeminent among Northumbrian collections is that of the late William A. Cocks, now housed, together with Mr. Cocks’ unique collection of bagpipes and music MSS, at the Black Gate Museum in the care of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This collection is now fully described in The Northumbrian Pipes and Their Music by E. A. Ramsay, a bibliographical F.L.A. thesis published by the Library Association, 1974. In Ireland the collection of Seamus O Casaide is one of the several important collections at the National Library, Dublin.

Many people have assisted me in this work. The staffs of the various libraries where I have worked have been invariably courteous and helpful, and I must particularly record my indebtedness to Miss M. P. Linton and Miss R. Wood of the National Library of Scotland, and Mrs. J. Beattie of the Black Gate Museum, Newcastle, for researches carried out on my behalf. I am grateful to the Library of Congress, Washington D.C, U.S.A., and to the Polish Academy of Sciences, Gdansk, for generous gifts of photocopied material. Mr. Andrew Ross, proprietor of J. & R. Glen, Edinburgh, gave much advice and information which I could never have got elsewhere. So too did Mr. Breandan Breathnach of the Department of Irish Folklore, University College, Dublin, and Mr. Simon Stokoe, whose remarkable private library includes the Askew and O Casaide correspondence. Many private collectors have given information or lent material, and though some have wished to remain anonymous I am pleased to be able to acknowledge the help of Mr. James Campbell, Mr. F. Cornish, Professor A. J. Haddow, Dr. D. R. Hannay, Mr. A. G. Kenneth, Captain J. A. Maclellan, Mr. S. MacNeill, Major R. E. Powell, the late Mr. J. E. Scott, Mr. W. Strachan, Dr. P. D. Terry, and Mr. D. Varella.


*These questions are discussed by D. W. Krummel in his Guide for Dating Early Published Music, (J. Boonin, Hackensack N.J., 1974) which unfortunately appeared too late for me to use in the present work. See also a review of Krummel’s book by P. W. Jones, in Music and Letters, vol. 57, p. 175 (1976); and for an earlier discussion, Hinrichsen’s Musical Year Book, 1961 (Hinrichsen, London, New York, 1961) containing papers read at a Joint Congress of the International Association of Music Libraries and the Galpin Society, at Cambridge, England, 1959.