pipes|drums announces 14th Set Tunes Series by William Donaldson

Published: July 3, 2014
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Dr. William Donaldson

Since 2000, Dr. William Donaldson has worked with pipes|drums to create an annual analysis of the piobaireachds picked by the Piobaireachd Society for the major competitions, and continues the landmark Set Tunes Series – free to all readers of the magazine – again in 2014.

With close to 150 tunes, each meticulously presented in the various settings that preceded the Piobaireachd Society’s ongoing attempt to standardize the compositions, the 2014 Set Tunes Series numbers six tunes, as most of those set for the Senior, Gold Medal and Silver Medal competitions at the Argyllshire Gathering at Oban, Scotland, and the Northern Meeting at Inverness, Scotland, have already been presented.

The totality of the Set Tunes Series with multiple settings of each tune represents the largest single compendium of piobaireachd anywhere.

The tunes in this year’s series:

  • “Abercairney’s Salute”
  • “The Battle of Waterloo”
  • “The Big Spree”
  • “Lament for the Departure of King James”
  • “MacLeod of Raasay’s Salute”
  • “The Red Hand in the MacDonalds’ Arms”

A native of Aberdeen, Scotland, William Donaldson was a pupil for nine years with the legendary Robert Nicol. As a leading academic expert on Scots musical composition and song, Donaldson has published several works on Highland piping, including the seminal work, The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society, a critical study of the evolution of piobaireachd and the influence of a few aristocratic power-brokers to control the music for competition.

We launch the 2014 Set Tunes Series with a brief interview with William Donaldson.

pipes|drums: The Set Tunes Series is now in its fourteenth year. It’s one of the bigger collections with more than 150 tunes.

William Donaldson: Yes. It is a good start, but providing reliable, authentic scores only takes us so far. They have to be interpreted and played, realized with all the musical talent we know our current cohort of professional players possesses (obvious from the brilliant way they handle the light music). But there are obstacles to this, as we all know, mainly the . . .

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