Published: February 28, 2015

Will 100% authentic MacCrimmon tune be accepted?

every future piobaireachd composed by either Iain or Calum MacCrimmon would be, by rights, welcomed.

“‘Salute to Malcolm Roderick MacCrimmon’ is a really fine tune, and I couldn’t see any reason why it should not be added to any list of MacCrimmon compositions for competitions whether it be Skye or anywhere else,” said renowned piper, teacher and adjudicator Colin MacLellan, who first brought to light the notion of the tune being eligible as a MacCrimmon composition for the Skye events. “It would be a fresh and very welcome injection of modernity to the art of piobaireachd, which is desperately needed.”

Considering that the MacCrimmon lore is associated with music hundreds of years old, the new MacCrimmon composition could add a decidedly modern flavour to the distinguished Skye events. In recent years there has been a noticeable trend towards encouraging and embracing new composition in ceol mor, or at least tunes written in the last 100 years – considered “modern” by previous Piobaireachd Society standards.

“If MacCrimmon compositions are required to be set, this tune’s credentials are impeccable,” said piping scholar William Donaldson, author of The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society and the epic pipes|drums’ Set Tunes Series, “unlike a lot of  ‘MacCrimmon tunes’ widely accepted as being by members of the famous family, but attributed on very dubious grounds.”

A memorial cairn to the MacCrimmon dynasty of pipers exists in Boreraig, Skye, where the family purportedly ran a college of piping, though there is no actual written proof, only aural tradition to go by. Scotsman newspaper columnist Alistair Campsie famously attempted to destroy the MacCrimmon “history” in his 1980 book The MacCrimmon Legend: The Madness of Angus MacKay, which essentially contended that the family never existed as composing pipers, and instead were the result of the delusional imagination of Angus MacKay when he was committed to a mental asylum. The book and Campsie were pilloried by the piping establishment. A defamation lawsuit against the International Piper magazine published by Captain John MacLellan MBE contributed to the closure of the publication in 1982.


  1. This piobaireachd is deservedly in honour to a man who spent most of his life promoting and supporting the MacCrimmon legacy. His son Iain and grandson Calum have followed those steps in a most respectful, honourable and humble way. I am privileged to have spent time in the company of all three – socially and musically and feel that the acceptance of this tune should be very seriously considered.

    It took several years before a Canadian pipe band was able to break into the top five in world pipe band competition. This is testament to their innovation, talent and dedication to ‘keeping the music alive and meaningful’.

    I hope that the decision makers recognize their obligation to be relevant.

    Rod McLeod/Calgary Canada


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