Some help from the past

It was my birthday yesterday. My wife gave me a present that is older than I am.

It is a little book by Seumas MacNeill called “Piobaireachd – Classical Music of the Highland Bagpipe”, and was written in 1964 as a companion to a BBC radio series. I curled up in a chair and read most of it last night. MacNeill explains the form of Piobaireachd comprehensively, but succinctly, and with a dry wit that makes the book fun to read. The book is also infused with MacNeill’s obvious enthusiasm for the music.

It is interesting to read what is also a snapshot of the state of piobaireachd some 40 years ago. Seumas MacNeill died in 1996, but I’m fairly certain he would have been happy with the way things are working out. Even here in Utah we now have an incipient piobaireachd organization – The Utah Piobaireachd Society – and, judging by the scope of discussions on the Bob Dunsire Forums, the future is healthy for the form.

This book is going to be very helpful to me. I thank my wife, and I thank Seumas.

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