December 31, 2010

Donaldson’s landmark 10th Set Tunes Series returns to p|d

After a one-year hiatus due to mainly an “own-choice” year, Dr. William Donaldson’s Set Tunes Series will return to pipes|drums for a tenth installment beginning in early 2011. Already at more than 125 tunes, Donaldson’s Set Tunes Series is the most extensive collective analysis of piobaireachd available.

The 2011 Set Tunes Series will focus on the piobaireachds prescribed by the Piobaireachd Society for next year’s Clasp and Senior; Gold Medal; and Silver Medal competitions at the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting. Fourteen pieces comprise the 2011 Series, several of which are updates and revisions to previously analyzed tunes:

“The Battle of Auldearn” #1

“The Battle of Sherrifmuir”

“Finlay’s Lament”

“Glengarry’s March” (revision)

“The Glen is Mine” (revision)

“Keppoch’s March”

“Lochnell’s Lament”

“MacDonald’s or Duntroon’s Salute”

“MacKenzie of Applecross’s Salute”

“The Menzies’ Salute” (revision)

“Mrs. Smith’s Salute”

“Porst Ullare”

“Queen Anne’s Lament”

“War or Peace”

As with previous installments, each tune will have an accompanying MP3 audio file of Donaldson personally illustrating the composition. The series is completely free to all readers of pipes|drums.

William Donaldson is the author of the seminal and controversial book, The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society 1750-1950, has been a visiting lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2009, helping to teach M.I.T.’s “Folk Music of North America and the British Isles” course. Donaldson is one of the world’s authorities on Scottish folk music. He was a pupil of Robert Nicol for nine years, and was a lecturer with the Open University in the UK until assuming his new role at M.I.T.

The Set Tunes Series began in 2001 after William Donaldson approached the online magazine with the concept of providing his extensive analysis of piobaireachd based on exhaustive study of ceol mor manuscripts housed in the National Libraries of Scotland and the universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow that were made accessible to the public in the late 1990s.

Donaldson recognized the power of the Internet and the work of pipes|drums to extend access to the diversity of piobaireachd settings that go beyond the standardized settings adopted by the Piobaireachd Society.

“Dr. William Donaldson’s Set Tunes Series should be treasured by all piobaireachd players and enthusiasts,” said pipes|drums editor Andrew Berthoff. “It is a continuing honour to bring this prodigious work to all of our readers.”


  1. I thought at first an own choice” year meant that Willie himself had made the choice not to comment…that’s my naivete and gullibility wrapped up in a package Anyway

  2. I can hardly wait for this! I really like the Dr.’s interpretation of The Battle Of The Castle Strome” from past instalments…can’t get it out of my head!! Well worth the “read and listen”!”



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