Published: June 30, 2011

PiobSoc publishes second volume of Donald MacDonald

The 50 tunes that were originally published in 1826 by Donald MacDonald have been painstakingly collected and analyzed in a new publication from the Piobaireachd Society, the second book of the historical work. Put together by Roderick Cannon and Keith Sanger, the new volume was launched at the Donald MacDonald Cuaich competition in Ardvasar, Skye, on June 10th.

Donald MacDonald’s Collection of Piobaireachd Volume 2, manuscript (1826)  is the final pre-Angus MacKay source of piobaireachd to be put out, following 1994’s Compleat Theory of the Highland Bagpipe written by Joseph MacDonald in 1760, the 1820 MacGregor-MacArthur Manuscript of 1820, and the 2006 publication of an edited version of  Donald MacDonald’s book of  1820.  The new work of Donald MacDonald’s manuscript includes unpublished 50 tunes.

“The intensive work required for such a major publication started in 2006, although Roderick Cannon and Keith Sanger had been researching it before then,” said Piobaireachd Society President Jack Taylor. “All these collections, but perhaps this one most of all, are important for today’s piper because they show a style of piobaireachd which has largely disappeared.  Not only are the well known differences in cadences and echo beats present, but there are also many tunes with different variations.”

Taylor said that the new collection includes examples set for the 2011 senior competitions, including “The Vaunting,” “The Piper’s Warning to his Master” and “John Garve of Raasay’s Lament.” In addition there are versions of “Lament for the Old Sword,” “Lament for Alasdair Dheirg” and “The Glen is Mine.”

“The piper can now see clearly this style and decide whether to include these versions of the tunes in his or her repertoire,” Taylor added. “The tunes often take on a very character, which many find attractive.”

When asked to name a personal highlight of the collection, Jack Taylor chose a story of the manuscript’s origin and subsequent travels via India by James Grant,  a pupil of Donald MacDonald. “Grant happened to meet a couple called Thomason on his voyage to India, and whose daughter went on to marry a son of the Thomasons. They had a son, Charles Thomason, who fell heir to the manuscript and who used it as a major source  for  Ceol Mor, the biggest ever collection of Piobaireachd.”

The new work is priced at £30, and available from the Glasgow College of Piping or the National Piping Centre.

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