Produced by the Altpibroch Club, this ebook is billed as the first complete guide to the earliest pibroch scores (though the PS website lists them all).
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’ sets the tone – as does the rendition of Cill Chriosd over the opening page, far from what is played today.
The book looks at how pibroch, as an oral tradition, is multicoloured and fluid and claims that by writing it down, and subsequently editing it, much has been lost – though reverence is paid to the early scribes. There is no comment on this apparent contradiction. Nor is there on the oral tradition as handed down to the modern player.
Players today, it says, are maintaining rather than developing the music, assisted by the competition format.
It confidently and 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 on 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 does not say on whose authority this teaching is based.
The book is clearly written, beautifully produced and is critical of the Piobaireachd Society. 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.