Collection of Piobaireachd in the form of 'verbal music'

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published by James Hogg, Edinburgh, 1880

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Collection of Piobaireachd in the form of 'verbal music'

A printed book of bagpipe music entitled 'A Collection of Piobaireachd or Pipe Tunes Verbally Taught by the McCrummen Pipers of Skye', published for J. and R. Glen by James Hogg, Edinburgh, 1880. This is known as the 'Gesto' Collection.

Canntaireachd (Gaelic 'chanting' or 'singing') or piobaireachd in written form as opposed to musical notation, as recorded in the Gesto Collection. Part of a tune for the Great Highland Bagpipe published in 'A Collection of Pibaireachd or Pipe Tunes as verbally taught by the McCrummen Pipers in the Isle of Skye to their Apprentices, now published, as taken from John McCrummen, Piper to the Old Laird of MacLeod and his Grandson, the late General MacLeod of MacLeod', reprinted in Edinburgh in 1880 for J and R Glen, North Bank Street. This collection of 20 Highland bagpipe tunes in the spoken or sung form of canntaireachd was made by Captain Neil MacLeod of Gesto in Skye and first published in 1828. It is a record of what one of the last of the MacCrimmon pipers of Skye John MacCrimmon (1731-1822), known as Iain Dubh, sung or recited as piobaireachd. Another collection of canntaireachd was made at this time or in the 1790s by Colin Campbell in Argyllshire and 168 tunes survived in manuscript form. The rescuing and editing of this form of an oral tradition in Gaelic tended to reduce it to a strict system which it may never have been.

Captain Neil MacLeod of Gesto was born about 1770 and joined the British army in the 1790s, fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. He served under Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt and later acted as Recruiting Officer for the Highland Regiments. He was the last of a notable family of Skye tacksmen who lost their lands of Gesto in North Skye after a boundaries dispute with their chieftain, MacLeod of Macleod. Neil MacLeod of Gesto was a great authority on Highland music and was said to know all the music of piobaireachd and its history and traditions. Latterly he lived in Edinburgh where he spent most of his time researching in the national archives then stored in the cellars of the Parliament House; he came to be known as the 'parliament house ghost'. In 1828 he published his small book of 20 tunes in canntaireachd to illustrate the MacCrimmon 'system' of teaching and recalling bagpipe music.

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Online ID: 000-000-580-029-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  McCrummen Piobaireachd
Date: 1880 (date of publication)
What: Printed book of Piobaireachd music
Who: Gesto Collection (collection)
James Hogg (publisher)
McCrummen Pipers of Skye (pipers and piping teachers)
Where: Scotland, Edinburgh (place of publication)
Description: Printed book of Piobaireachd music published in 1880.
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