Published: November 30, 2010

Piping comes to M.I.T. for one night only; Donaldson to deliver lecture-recital Nov. 29th

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is renowned for training the world’s greatest scientists and producing Nobel laureates, but for one night in November Highland piping will be the focus when Dr. William Donaldson delivers a special lecture and recital for students and others wishing to attend.

Donaldson, the author of the seminal and controversial book, The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society 1750-1950, has been a visiting lecturer at MIT since 2009, helping to teach the institute’s “Folk Music of North America and the British Isles” course, which regularly invites eminent performers to give a talk/recital.

Donaldson’s 90-minute session, which is available to the public for free, is on November 29th at 7:30 pm at Killian Hall on M.I.T.’s Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus.

“I plan to use piping to challenge most of what people generally think about the traditional performing arts, namely that they are spontaneous, artless and anonymous, springing without premeditation from the hearts and minds of the people,” Donaldson said when asked about the content of his lecture.  “I’ll give examples of the light music tradition to illustrate something of its range, playing the musical illustrations myself, then go on to piobaireachd.”

Donaldson added that he plans to give an account of piobaireachd as a music, its structure and expressive idiom, and will play a few shorter tunes.

M.I.T. requires all students to take at least three Humanities, Arts and Social Science courses as part of their degree requirement.

William Donaldson was a pupil of Robert Nicol for some nine years, and was a lecturer with the Open University in the UK until assuming the role at M.I.T. His “Set Tunes Series” on pipes|drums, an analysis of more than 100 piobaireachds, is the largest online repository of free information on piobaireachd yet available.

Donaldson’s Set Tunes Series is scheduled to continue soon with Donaldson’s study of the tunes assigned to the 2011 lists assembled by the Piobaireachd Society for the major ceol mor events.

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