The Piobaireachd Society
Patron HM The Queen


Dwelly Manuscript

Edward Dwelly (1864–1939) was an English lexicographer and genealogist. He created the authoritative dictionary of Scottish Gaelic, and his work has had an influence on Irish Gaelic lexicography. He also practised as a professional genealogist and published transcripts of many original docume...

Book Review: ‘A Noble Pursuit’ by Professor Alan Armstrong

'A Noble Pursuit' is the title of a recently published book by Alan Armstrong on the life letters and works of Pipe Major John Grant, writes Dr Jack Taylor. Pipe Major Grant was the subject of a paper at the Piobaireachd Society conference given by Professor Armstrong in 2012, and the websi...

2019 Conference Proceedings

The text and picture presentation of Jack Taylor's talk 'New Evidence about the Old Competitions' is now available to Piobaireachd Society members here. ...

Set Tunes 2020

The Piobaireachd Society recommends the following for competitions in 2020: A. SENIOR COMPETITIONS The Unjust Incarceration* - PS 2Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmon - PS 2, KPatrick Og MacCrimmon's Lament** - PS 3The Sound of the Waves against the Castle of Duntroon - PS 6, KNameless Cherede D...



When the Highlands and Islands of Scotland adopted the bagpipe, perhaps some seven hundred years ago, pipers began to develop it and its music to suit their needs and tastes.

What emerged was the instrument we know today as the Great Highland Bagpipe, and a form of music, piobaireachd (pronounced ‘pee-broch’).

Piobaireachd is unique to this instrument. It cannot be successfully reproduced on any other. (The name piobaireachd is literally ‘piping’ in Gaelic.)

This classical pipe music consists of a theme, known as the ground, or in Gaelic the urlar (‘oorlar’), and variations on this theme.

The theme can express joy, sadness, or sometimes, in the ‘gathering’ tunes, a peremptory warning or call to arms.

Variations on the theme usually progress to the ‘crunluath’ variation, where the piper’s fingers give a dazzling technical display of embellishments or gracenotes.

The Piobaireachd Society was founded in 1901 to encourage the playing teaching and study of this music.