Published: November 30, 2003

William Donaldson’s fourth Set Tunes series

We will once again bring to readers Dr. William Donaldson’s ground-breaking series on the piobaireachds set for the annual major competitions.

Entitled, “Pìobaireachd isn’t mysterious, difficult, or hard; it’s just music . . .,” a total of thirteen piobaireachds set for the Senior, Clasp, Gold Medal and Silver Medal competitions will be analyzed in-depth by Donaldson, the world’s leading pipe music historian.

Donaldson writes: “This fourth series will bring the total to over fifty tunes, in a variety of settings from the repertoire of musicians who devoted a lifetime to the art, including Donald MacDonald, Colin Campbell, Angus MacArthur, John MacGregor, Peter Reid, Angus MacKay, Donald MacPhee, Uilleam Ross, Ronald MacKenzie, C. S. Thomason, David Glen, John MacDougall Gillies, Colin Cameron, Robert Meldrum and John McLennan.”

The piobaireachds covered over the next four month’s exclusively on Piper & Drummer Online will be:

Senior Competitions

  • “In Praise of Morag”
  • “Lament for Donald Bàn MacCrimmon”
  • “Lament for the Children”

    (“Lament for MacLeod of Colbecks” and “Donald Gruamach’s March” are available in the 2001 Set Tunes series.)

    Gold Medal

  • “The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute”
  • “Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon”
  • “Beloved Scotland”
  • “The Battle of Bealach nam Brog”
  • “His Father’s Lament for Donald MacKenzie”

    (“Mary’s Praise” is available in the 2001 Set Tunes series.)

    Silver Medal

  • “Catherine’s Lament”
  • “The Lament for Donald of Laggan”
  • “Melbank’s Salute”
  • “The Little Spree”
  • “The Massacre of Glencoe”

    (“MacLeod’s Controversy” is available in the 2003 Set Tunes series.)

    “Electronic media enable the old reliable scores to be brought together in this way, creating an idiomatic context for almost any tune,” William Donaldson continues. “Equipped with this, piobaireachd ceases to be mysterious, difficult or hard: it’s just music. So it’s over to you, players and teachers.”

    “Perhaps nothing has been more important to piobaireachd scholarship in the last fifty years than William Donaldson’s ongoing series on the Set Tunes,” said Andrew Berthoff, editor. “The 2004 series continues the new piobaireachd enlightenment taking shape, where pipers welcome ‘new’ interpretations of ‘traditional’ tunes and judges are willing to accept them in competition. That Dr. Donaldson has again chosen us as the forum for his seminal work is extremely flattering.”

    The first installment of “Pìobaireachd isn’t mysterious, difficult, or hard; it’s just music…” will appear this month, beginning with Dr. Donaldson’s introduction to the series.

    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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