Published: November 30, 2002

Third Donaldson Set Tune Series

We are pleased to announce the third, landmark series by Dr. William Donaldson of Aberdeen, Scotland, examining piobaireachds set for the major competitions in 2003. The new series will begin this week and conclude on April 4, 2003.

The unprecedented success of the first two series – “18 Tunes: an exploration of Piobaireachd” and “‘Entirely at the pleasure of the performer’: a further exploration of piobaireachd” – has opened the door to further objective study of settings previously unavailable to pipers.

Entitled “‘Beautiful and Melodious Airs’…An Exploration of Piobaireachd Series III,” Dr. Donaldson has again exhaustively researched numerous manuscripts currently available only through the collections of various Scottish universities and museums. The 2003 installments will also examine tunes set for both the Gold Medal and Silver Medal events.

“To vary the theme again I am including more manuscript examples, perhaps also helping folks see that they are not all in Sanskrit or runes,” said Dr. Donaldson. “I am also providing some comment on other tunes, with a brief introduction and major commentary and conclusions at the end.”

“Beautiful and melodious airs” refers to a quote that will be expanded upon in Dr. Donaldson’s Introduction to the series.

“We again delighted to continue to make piping history by publishing Dr. Donaldson’s truly groundbreaking work,” said Andrew Berthoff, editor. “By publishing this series we provide new alternative settings and ‘authority’ for many of the 2003 set tunes. Competitors now and in the future as a result will be better informed and have options well beyond the Piobaireachd Society and Kilberry settings for what they play in competition.”

The first installment of “‘Beautiful and Melodious Airs’…An Exploration of Piobaireachd Series III” will appear in the next few days, beginning with Dr. Donaldson’s introduction to the series. The series will run in the Features section. The past two series by Dr. Donaldson are available in the site’s archives.

William Donaldson is a lecturer in history with Scotland’s Open University and was for many years a pupil of Robert Nicol, one of the famed “Bobs of Balmoral.”

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