How are the set tunes chosen?
The Music Committee is responsible for recommending the tunes to be played in the Silver and Gold Medal and in the Clasp and Senior Piobaireachd competitions at the Northern Meeting and the Argyllshire Gathering each year. The set tunes are normally also used for the Canadian Gold and Silver Medal and Irish Silver Medal competitions.
The aim is to select tunes of roughly equal ‘weight’ or ‘difficulty’ that will be challenging to competitors at the different levels and will also provide entertaining listening for audiences. Another aim is to explore the piobaireachd repertoire as extensively as possible over the years.
It is usual for the settings of the tunes to be chosen from the Piobaireachd Society and Kilberry collections, but from time to time other settings are prescribed. It is always made clear, however, that alternative settings are acceptable provided that there is good authority for them, that judges are advised in advance if they are to be played and that copies of the music are provided by the competitors.
The list of set tunes is published on the Piobaireachd Society’s website and in the piping press in the Spring of the year before they are due to be set so that competitors will be aware of them in good time.
Each year the judges on the Piobaireachd Society’s register hold two informal meetings in order to explore and discuss different styles and settings of the tunes. Brief notes from these seminars are published on the website also.
The set tunes are used widely throughout the world as the curriculum for study at piobaireachd workshops. The evidence is that a very wide range of tunes is played nowadays for which the setting of tunes must, in part, be responsible.