July 31, 2001

Piper & Drummer Concludes Donaldson Set Tune Series

After three months, 18 tunes and 18 separate installments, Piper & Drummer Online has completed its groundbreaking series, “18 Tunes: an exploration of Piobaireachd” by Dr. William Donaldson.

The series, which examines the piobaireachds set for the major competitions in 2001, has been extremely well-received by the thousands of daily visitors to the site. The exclusive series is thought to be the only major contribution to piobaireachd research and publishing not administered by the Piobaireachd Society for over 100 years.

Piper & Drummer Online has made the 18 tunes series possible thanks to a rare combination of editorial vision and technical skill,” said Dr. Donaldson, a professor of history with Scotland’s Open University and long-time pupil of Robert Nicol, one of the famous “Bobs of Balmoral.” “I am delighted at the opportunity that the site has provided to bring attention to the richness of the earlier published and manuscript tradition.”

Dr. Donaldson’s series examined all 18 of the piobaireachds set for the Gold Medals and Senior competitions for this year’s Argyllshire gathering and Northern Meeting, the world’s most important piping competitions. His exhaustive research delved into manuscripts recently made public by the National Libraries of Scotland and the universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow.

“The William Donaldson series on Piper & Drummer Online just shows how much the Internet is changing the way piping (and music in general) is learned,” said Colin MacLellan, president of the Competing Pipers Association, and winner of both Gold Medals and the Silver Chanter. “As piobaireachd playing takes a step back from the grind of almost total standardization, along comes this series which points out to pipers the different settings and sources, presented in a scholarly and unbiased forum. I hope that the series will continue, and not just be confined to the annual list of set tunes. Congratulations are due to both Piper & Drummer Online and William Donaldson for making this work so available.”

Without the Internet, sharing this material would be impossible without prohibitively expensive print publishing. Producing the installements in Adobe Acrobat format allows all pipers to share in this important research at no charge.

“We are delighted and honoured to have been approached by Dr. Donaldson to publish this landmark series,” said Andrew Berthoff, editor and Webmaster of Piper & Drummer Online. “The site continues to go from strength to strength, and our readers can look forward to even more content and innovation in the future.”

Plans are already under way for a similar series on the 2002 set tunes, which is tentatively scheduled to begin this fall.


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