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The Compleat Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe was written about 1760 by Joseph MacDonald, who came from Durness in Sutherland. It deals with the classical pipe music known as piobaireachd, a highly stylised form which at one time was taught in traditional piping colleges in the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland.
Joseph MacDonald was the first piper to endeavour to put his knowledge in writing. He gives instructions for playing the instrument, and a wealth of unique background information, including a large number of Gaelic technical terms. Much of what he writes confirms the continuity of tradition from his time to the present day, but he also describes playing styles which have otherwise been lost or modified.
Joseph's work is presented here accurately and completely for the first time. This edition includes a photographic facsimile, transcription and commentary. All the music examples are given both in their original notation and in edited versions using the conventions of present day pipe music. Introductory chapters describe the historical background, and give an overview of Joseph MacDonald's style of playing.
This book received the Glenfiddich Living Scotland Award in 1993. The Award Scheme is designed to encourage the conservation of Scotland's heritage in its widest sense.