Traditional Gaelic Bagpiping, 1745-1945

Traditional Gaelic Bagpiping, 1745-1945

Traditional Gaelic Bagpiping, 1745-1945

Traditional Gaelic Bagpiping, 1745-1945

Synopsis

A thought-provoking study into the decline of bagpiping in Scotland and its survival in the New World. Refuting widely accepted opinions that was effectively banned in Scotland by the Disarming Act of 1746, John S. Gibson presents new perspectives on the decline of Gaelic piping and Gaelic society prior to the Highland diaspora. He reveals that traditional dance bagpiping continued to at least the mid-nineteenth century and suggests that the Clearances was one of the main reasons for the decline of piping. Following the path of Scottish emigrants, he traces the history of bagpiping in the New World and uncovers examples of late eighteenth-century traditional bagpiping and dance in Gaelic Cape Breton, arguing that these anachronistic cultural forms provide a vital link to the vanished folk music and culture of the Scottish Highlanders.

Excerpt

I have always been interested in Scottish Gaelic society, and this book is an effort to present, from a Gaelic point of view, what is known about Highland Gaelic community bagpiping and bagpipers over the two and a half centuries since 1745. Most refinements to modern piping and to the small existing core of modern piping scholarship have occurred largely in ignorance of the foundations of the art and its history, which are to be found in the traditional world of Gaelic instrumental music and dance in the late eighteenth century. The almost extinct piping of Gaelic Nova Scotia presents the only example of rustic bagpipe music in combination with the traditional dance of the Gael in the second half of the eighteenth century. This old-style piping is undergoing its first revival, albeit under altered social and intellectual conditions.

In any study of the Highland bagpipe it is important to regard the fixed scale gappings of the Highland bagpipe chanter as essentially Scotch Gaelic, any variants reflecting either community preferences or the makers’ incompetences or eccentricities. The fiddle, with its infinite flexibility, has always offered Gaelic-speaking Scots the opportunity to express, deliberately or accidentally, different scale spacings. The bagpipe, as long as it was a popular instrument, guaranteed the conservatism of Scotch Gaelic scale concept and presents scholars with an invaluable perception of an ancient musical notion.

Conducting comparative studies of bagpipe chanters over the years has remained beyond my scope. However, Col MacLean Sinclair, who owned the pipe chanter that is thought to have belonged to Iain Dall (Blind John) MacKay, the Blind Piper of Gairloch (who died around 1756 aged over nine-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.