Names of pibrochs in pre-1820 sources without music notation

This page contains literatim transcriptions from original documents. The Gaelic spellings and English translations gathered here are often surprising. I chose 1820 as a milestone because in that year Donald MacDonald’s book (D1) began to have a stabilising influence on what had until that point lacked any fixed reference.

The transcriptions are selective, including only tune titles and basic contextual information. I have carefully proofed the readings so that this page can serve as a reliable reference until such time as facsimile images become available online. When an identical spelling recurs, I have transcribed it once only and given the number of instances in square brackets (for example, the 1785 set tune recurs 24 times). Everything in square brackets is editorial.

So far, I have gathered one tune title from the Wardlaw MS and lists of tunes from 1778, 1783, 1785 and 1804. There are many more. If anyone could supply transcriptions of other early tune lists, or images with permission to publish Open Access, or would like to help with the costs of publishing high-resolution images, we would be delighted to hear from you. These documents contain fascinating information besides the tune titles and digitising them would form a valuable addition to the source material available to players and researchers of pibroch.

Barnaby Brown, 12 January 2016

1666-1690s The Wardlaw Manuscript

Location: NLS, MS.3658, p. 249

Wardlaw-p249-detail

Fuoris Pooge i spoge i Rhī. I got a kiss of the Kings hand  [PS 213]

1778 Western Fencibles Order Book

Location: Canna House Archive, Isle of Canna

Revel[le]
Glaisvair  [PS 132]
=================
The Troop
Boadachnabrigishin  [PS 2]
=================
Retreat
Gillychristie  [PS 170]
=================
Tatoo
MollachdephitMahary  [PS 67]
=================
Glasgow July 26th 1778

1783 Circumstantial Account

Location: NRS, GD248-27-2-49 (Seafield papers)

CIRCUMSTANTIAL Account of the Exhibition on the Highland Great Pipes, in Dunn’s Assembly Rooms, on Wednesday October 22. 1783.

Clanranald’s March [3 times: twice solo, once played by all 12 pipers] [PS 203]
Pibroch na Park  [PS 21]
Macgregor’s March  [PS 13]
Failt a Fryince [2 times]  [PS 173]
Macintosh’s Lament  [PS 200]
Coag na Skee  [PS 204]
Failt a Vainarich
Cowe Abercharnag  [PS 315]
Failt Abercharnag  [PS 186]

The musicians then marched round St Andrews Square, twelve in number, all playing the same piece, Clanranald’s March [PS 203]

1785 Plan of the Competition

Location: NLS, Acc. 7451, box 19, folder 3, item 1. Reproduced in Piping Times 19/6, p. 9.

In Dunn’s Assembly Room. / Ancient Martial Music. / Plan of the Competition for Prizes… 30th August, 1785.

Cean Drochaid Beg. Head of the Little Bridge, or the Cameron’s Gathering. [PS 169]
Failte a’ Phrionsai’. The Arrival or WelcomeA Salute. [24 times] [PS 173]
Failte Shir Sheumais. Sir James M‘Donald’s Welcome. [PS 210]
Cumhadh Mhic an Leathain. The M‘Lean’s Lament. [PS 78]
Glais-mheur. A favorite Piece. [3 times] [PS 132]
Moladh Mharai’. A Piece in praise of Mary, or the Laird of M‘Lachlan’s March. [PS 067]
Comhadh Mhic Chruimean. The Lamentation of Patrick More M‘Crimmon. [PS 137]
The Grants March. [PS 52]
Piobrachd Ereanach. An Irish Pibroch. [PS 31]
Failte Shir Dheorsa. In Praise of the Laird of Callandar. [PS 55]
Teachd am Phrionsai’ gu Muideard. The Landing in Moydart. [PS 115]
Leannan Dhonail Chruaimeich. Donald’s Love. [PS 102]
Leannan Ghioll Chruaimeich. The Stern Lad’s Sweetheart. [PS 102]
Piobrachd Sliabh an t Sora’. Sherriffmuir, a Pibroch. [PS 229]
Cumhadh Eoin Ghairbh. Lamentation of Rough John. [PS 78]
Siubhal Mhic Allain. Clanranald’s March. [2 times]  [PS 203]
Piobrachd Mhic Dhonail Dhuibh. Cameron’s Gathering. [PS 162]
Cumhadh an Aoin Mhic. Lamentation for an only Son. [PS 15]
Cean Drochaid Mhoir. Head of the Great Bridgea Pibroch. [PS 171]
Sliabh an t Sora’. Shirriffmuir. [PS 229]
Moladh Mharai’. In Praise of Mary.[PS 067]

1804 Plan of the Competition

Location: NRS, NRAS2177/Bundle 2086

Plan of the competition for prizes … 24 July 1804

Fhuair mi Pog do Laimh an Righ. I got a kiss of the King’s Hand. [PS 213]
Failte Phrionsa. The Prince’s Welcome. [PS 173]
Bhiorlain Chael Chorrach. M‘Lean of Coll’s March. [PS 11]
Failte Siosalach Straghlais. Chisholm’s Salute. [PS 073]
Leanan Mhic Dhonail Ghruamaich. Grim Donald’s Sweetheart. [PS 102]
Failte Baile Duneidin. Town of Edinburgh.
A Ghlais-Mheur. A favourite Piece. [PS 132]
Failte Bhoisdail. Macdonald of Boisdale’s Salute. [PS 095]
Cumha Phrionsa. The Prince’s Lament.
Failte Dheors’ Oig. Young Georg’s Salute to the Duke of Argyll. [PS 055]
Cruinnach Mhic Dhonailduibh. Cameron of Lochiel’s Gathering. [PS 177]
Leanan Mhic Dhonail Ghruamaich. Grim Donald’s Sweetheart. [PS 102]

To conclude with the whole Pipers Marching round the Stage, Playing Cogadh no Sith, “Peace or War,” [PS 204]

c. 1809 Spanish John’s Memoirs

John Macdonell of Scotus (Eòin Spàinteach, or ‘Spanish John’) composed his memoirs shortly before his death in 1810. These were printed by a now elusive Canadian periodical in the 1820s. In 1931, they were published by William Blackwood and Sons (reprinted 1993) as Spanish John: Being a narrative of the Early Life of Colonel John M‘Donnell of Scottos. Written by himself. In this book, on page 42, Spanish John recalls an event at Achnacarry in 1746 as follows:

Took some refreshing rest out of which we were awakened at break of day next morning by all the Highland Bagpipes playing the general, Cogga na si [PS 204], having been alarmed by their scouts, who reported that the Duke of Cumberland had sent a much superior force by three different routes to surround them…

Niall MacKenzie, “The Jacobites’ “General”: Spanish John’s Evidence for the History of Military Bagpiping,” Scottish Tradition Vol. 25 (2000), pp 3 and 7.