Produced by Altpibroch Club, this ebook is billed as the first complete guide to the earliest pibroch scores. An opening sentence of ” Piobaireachd is not what it has been described to you as a piper”, and a series of rules summarised by “If you cannot sing it, you cannot play it” set the tone, as does the rendition of Cill Chriosd in vigorous and rythmic style over the opening page, far from what is played today.
It looks at how pibroch, as an oral tradition, was multicoloured and fluid. How, by writing it down, and subsequently editing it, much has been lost, so that players today are maintaining rather than developing the music, assisted by the competition format. How, nonetheless, much has been gained, and how the early (primary) sources reflect best the diversity of the music at the time they were written. It confidently, and doubtless controversially, argues that an examination of the primary sources is essential for the player who wants to take more music from the tunes. It gives ideas on reading the sources, and practical exercises in how the various embellishments such as cadences, hiharins, echo beats, taorluath and crunluath movements may be learnt to be played as they appear in the early scores.
It is clearly written, beautifully produced, and often raises eyebrows. It is a most valuable addition to the existing literature on pibroch. It extends and informs the long-running debate about whether what is played now is the finest distillate of what went before, or merely the watered-down version.
The ebook format means that links to scores, recordings and videos are available. It is easily accessible, free, on Apple devices. A PDF “to be distributed freely” is available from Altpibroch.