The Piobaireachd Society recommends the following lists of tunes for competitions in 2019. Check below for comments on the tunes. Ronald MacShannon, the Music Committee member responsible for co-ordinating the selections, has issued these tunes: 


The Finger Lock PS 1, K
The Bells of Perth PS 2, K
Donald Gruamach’s March PS 2, K
Scarce of Fishing PS 3, K
The Daughter’s Lament PS 6, K
Lament for the Union PS 6, K
Lament for John MacDonald, Inverness PS 20th Century Ceol Mor
The Edinburgh Piobaireachd, Complete Compositions of Ceol Mor

Competitors will submit four of the above tunes, one of which they will be required to play.


The End of the Great Bridge PS 2, K
The Blind Piper’s Obstinacy PS 3, K
The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute PS 5, K
The Old Men of the Shells * PS 7, K
The Rout of Glenfruin PS 8, K
Lachlan MacNeill Campbell of Kintarbert’s Fancy PS 8, K
The Battle of Bealach nam Brog PS 9
MacLeod of MacLeod’s Lament PS 15, K

Competitors will submit four of the above tunes, one of which they will be required to play.
* There are two settings of this tune in PS Book 7 and a third in Kilberry. Competitors should make it clear to judges which setting they are to play.

[wds id=”6″]


The Bicker PS 4, K
The Battle of Strome PS 5
The Massacre of Glencoe (#) PS 6, K
Tulloch Ard PS 6, K
The MacKays’ Banner (#) PS 7, K
Salute to Donald PS 8, K
Marquis of Argyll’s Salute PS 10
The MacGregor’s Salute (#) PS 10

Competitors will submit four of the above tunes, one of which they will be required to play.
For the purposes of the Silver Medal competitions, tunes marked (#) require crunluaths a mach.

PS = Piobaireachd Society Collection K = Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor

Competitors are not restricted to settings in the Piobaireachd Society Collection and Kilberry Book. Those who wish to play alternative settings should submit legible scores, indicating the origins of the settings, to competition organisers along with their tune selections.

Altogether different tunes known by the same or similar names will not be accepted as alternatives.

This announcement is without prejudice to any arrangements made by the Argyllshire Gathering or the Northern Meeting.

The Editor writes: As a member of the Music Committee, I am in a position to confirm to readers the lengths that are gone to to satisfy client groups affected (to use the modern jargon) by the above lists. Not least of these is the audience who pay good money to come and hear the competitions at Oban and Inverness. Variety, melody, familiarity are all important to listeners. They want to be challenged yes, but perhaps not too much. The music must conform to what they understand as piobaireachd, what the tradition understands as piobaireachd. That is why when we step outside the parameters our tradition bearers have left us empty seats abound.

There must be a challenge too for the performers. Grading the tunes, making sure they are  aligned to the skill and experience of the contestants is vital. Standards have risen, but have they risen that much that we should list say, MacDougall’s Gathering for the Silver Medal? I don’t think so. But then it is not that long ago that the great P/M Donald MacLeod won the Clasp playing Salute to Donald – yet here we find it set for Silver.

And how do you inspire the top players to give their utmost for the ultimate prizes, the Senior Piobaireachd and Clasp? Length, technical demand, and novelty – but not for its own sake. Any new tune must have depth and worth; depth and worth such as we encounter with Captain John MacLellan’s Edinburgh Piobaireachd or Donald MacLeod’s Lament for John MacDonald of Inverness. Pleasing it is indeed to see these relatively ‘new’, ‘modern’ pieces making the lists. How they will fair against Donald Gruamach and Scarce of Fishing is fascinating to speculate.

Putative Gold Medallists will rejoice; these are all tunes they should know. And that’s my advice. Come September, unless you are blessed enough to take the 2018 double, knuckle down to learning all eight (you may know a few already) and then after New Year home in on the four you think may  take you to glory. Whatever happens your effort won’t be wasted.

Isn’t this the lesson of ceol mor: medal or no, playing great music is always it’s own reward.

[wds id=”10″]