The Great Music: An introduction to ‘pibroch’

Wednesday 5 June 2019, 6.00pm - 7.30pm

Talk by Dr Decker Forrest of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

In the Museum of the Isles at Armadale Castle

Ceòl Mòr (literally, ‘great music’ in Scottish Gaelic) is the ceremonial music of the Highland bagpipe that flourished during the 17th and early 18th centuries in the Highlands and Islands. Conventionally referred to in English as ‘pibroch’ (from pìobaireachd, meaning ‘piping’ in general), this highly stylised music is a completely different proposition to the more usual marches, jigs, reels and other ‘small’ or ‘light’ music (ceòl beag).  Pibroch is a hugely important part of Scottish Gaelic culture but can be challenging for listeners unfamiliar with its complex forms.

In this talk, Dr Decker Forrest will provide a fascinating introduction to pibroch and its history. He will explain its musical structures, illustrating them with his own playing, and provide an insight into the music’s development over several hundred years. He will introduce the principle dynastic piping traditions, such as that of the famed MacCrimmons (pipers to the MacLeods of Dunvegan) as well as key figures including Donald MacDonald who is celebrated in Armadale Castle’s annual Donald MacDonald Cuach pibroch competition. There will also be an opportunity to see books and objects from the Museum of the Isles Archive relating to piping and traditional music.

Dr Decker Forrest is Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) in Gaelic and Traditional Music at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s National Centre for Gaelic language and Culture on the Isle of Skye. He is an accomplished solo piper and musician and was awarded a PhD from St Andrews University and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama for his research into the development and performance practice of ceòl beag in 2009. His research has also included the replication of an original Donald MacDonald chanter, which he used to record unique settings of pipe music set by MacDonald in the early 19th century.

The talk is free (donations welcome). Advance booking recommended to reserve a place, via Ticketsource.

The talk is part of Clan Donald Gaelic Arts Week, supported by EventScotland’s Scottish Clan Event Fund.