Andrew Bova

Identifying canons in competitive light music for the Great Highland Bagpipe, 1947–2015

Competitions for players of the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe are regarded by many pipers and enthusiasts as the pinnacle of the art form, though some pipers who participate in these competitions have identified a trend of repertoire stagnation within certain disciplines of competition. Focusing on the solo competitive 2/4 march, this article presents the premise and methodology used to study competitive solo and band piping. This article aims to present the groundwork for further research into canon formation within competitive piping by: identifying the methods by which musical canons are formed in genres outside bagpipe competitions; identifying how those methods may be compared and applied to the formation of canons of competitive bagpipe music; identifying the various canons of competitive bagpipe music between 1947 and 2015 by way of quantitative data collection and analysis; and comparing a canonical list of tunes against a list previously compiled by another scholar.

Keywords: Great Highland Bagpipe, canon formation, repertoire, competition, Ceòl Beag

The power wielded by the canon is enormous; its members are presumed best and thus most deserving of reiteration in performance, in scholarship, and in teaching (Marcia J. Citron).


In his 2005 doctoral dissertation, Scottish Competition Bagpipe Performance: Sound, Mode, and Aesthetics, author Simon McKerrell identifies what he considers the contemporary canon of competition 2/4 marches1 for the Great Highland Bagpipe2. Using this as a metric against which to compare my own canonical research in competitive light music, I have extended the temporality of this canon from circa 2005 to a 69-year period from 1947 to 2015. This paper identifies evidence to support the notion that there exists canons of repertoire in competitive piping, wherein there is an inclusivity and exclusivity of which tunes may or may not be played within certain genres of piping competition, rather than accepting the all-inclusive repertoire of tunes composed within a certain genre for competition. The paper also explores the identity of musical canons and the factors present in the formation of musical canons, describes parameters as they pertain to my research, explains the methodology used in this study, and presents a comparison of my canonical list of 2/4 marches with McKerrell’s. Analysis of this data focuses on my quantitative repertoire data, but all original work presented in this article is also informed by autoethnographic work. Finally, I conclude that there exists an acceptable canon of tunes within some genres of solo bagpipe competition, and use this as evidence to support further study into canons within competitive piping, including the solo strathspey and reel; hornpipe and jig; band march, strathspey, and reel (MSR); and band medley. This further study should not only explore where canons are found within these genres of competitive piping, but how and why they form.

McKerrell’s dissertation presents evidence of an accepted repertoire within competitive piping, but also the boundaries for what is deemed acceptable and how those boundaries may be broken, thus introducing new tunes into the competitive canon of accepted music (McKerrell, 2005, pp.293–296). This evidence comes from conversations with leading pipers, including Willie McCallum, who describes 40 or 50 marches as being played regularly (2005, p.195). This notion of a limited, and somewhat restricted, repertoire is supported by written evidence found in an issue of Piping Times from 1996, wherein William Gilmour writes:

Over the years the list of competition 2/4 marches has remained surprisingly short. The late John Garroway reckoned it was very unlikely that any further new ones would ever be composed. … In all forms of pipe music I am, what can be best described as a traditionalist. If it was good enough for Patrick Og, Angus MacKay, and Willie Ross, then it is more than good enough for me and I would not like to relax these rules for the 2/4 competition march established over the last 150 years to permit inferior tunes to enter the lists (Gilmour, 1996).

McKerrell also cites this evidence in his own dissertation as evidence of a canon of repertoire within competitive 2/4 march playing (McKerrell, 2005, pp.32–34). This idea that there is a list of acceptable tunes to play in competition is confirmed within my own research, for example by leading competitive piper Donald MacPhee, who, when asked about his own selection process for competitive light music, identified tunes that he described as ‘tried and tested’ as being the best for competitions. He also referenced competitors whom he respected, and their advice on what tunes he should and should not play in competition when he was starting out in senior competitions (MacPhee, 2017). This evidence points to the idea that there is inclusivity and exclusivity concerning acceptable repertoire for competitive solo piping, which supports the notion of a canon of tunes, featuring boundaries and rules for inclusion, rather than a repertoire which features all tunes that have been written.

Canon formation in non-piping musical genres

The use of the term ‘canon’ has historically been applied to literature and text rather than music (Bohlman, 1988; Citron, 1990; Dowd et al., 2002; Kärjä, 2006). For example, Citron opens her article Gender, Professionalism and the Musical Canon by describing the function of canon in literature as ‘a basic tool in defining the scope of the discipline’ and that ‘works admitted to this prestigious group command deep respect and form the literary core perpetuated in English curricula’ (1990, p.102). Bohlman describes canon formation as ‘a dynamic link between text and context’ (1988, p.104). These authors’ insights into the benefits and methods of applying the idea of canon to music, alongside McKerrell’s inclusion of a canon of competitive 2/4 marches in his dissertation, sets the standard and proves that there is, in fact, usefulness in the identification and exploration of musical canons. However, the idea of musical canon is not new, as Citron points out that there is a historical difference in nomenclature for musicians: ‘For us “canon” is more or less equivalent with “standard repertoire”’ (1990, p.102). Citron’s article deals with classical music, and to that end the nomenclature will differ from that of traditional music, more specifically highland piping. That being said, there are multiple reasons the word ‘repertoire’ has entered the piping community’s nomenclature with increasing regularity—one being that pipers increasingly receive broader musical educations than in the past, within both piping and non-piping musical genres, and especially through university programmes, as well as collaborating ever more extensively with musicians of other genres.

These authors have also described how canons can be explained and defined. Citron describes a canon as ‘a loosely codified organism, broadly accepted, with some degree of flexibility on small exchanges or new members’ (1990, p.102). Antti-Ville Kärjä describes canon in a historical context, saying ‘…if history is about choosing those things that are worth telling, then canonization could be described as choosing those things that are worth repeating’ (2006, p.5). Citron agrees with this idea of repetition being central to the idea of the canon, describing the importance not only of an introductory performance, but of some following repetition of performance (1990, pp.107–108). Bohlman briefly addresses this idea, asking the question of whether or not canon is just a ‘flourish of popularity’ (1988, p.110), popularity indicating the aforementioned repetition. He also describes canon more akin to Citron, as a system of classification, specifically exploring the nature of inclusivity and exclusivity necessary when classifying traditions (Bohlman, 1988). Dowd et al. give an example of the notion of classification when discussing the difficulty for new classical composers to secure premiers for their work, saying ‘U.S. symphony orchestras tend to emphasize the familiar works of a few composers – the “classics”’ (2002, p.36). Here we see the classification and naming, whether conscious or unconscious, of a canon of music, ‘the classics’, as a collection of music which is both relatively small and well-known, as well as being the focus of repetition within performances. Dowd et al. consider the orchestral canon on a macro scale, then break that canon down into subcategories, arguably sub-canons, e.g. ‘the classics’. Studying previous scholarly use and understanding concerning the meaning of the word ‘canon’ defines the necessary homogeneity of interpretation moving forward.

Moving beyond definitions and interpretations, the question of how canons are formed should be asked in order to give definition and context to the processes by which canons come to exist. A consistent theme across the authors studied for this paper is the influence of both internal and external factors on canon formation. According to Bohlman, ‘Folk music canons form as a result of the cultural choices of a community or group’ (1988, p.105). Internal choices reflect decisions of musical aesthetics and what the community considers to be culturally important, but also portrays external effects on the canon as internal decisions via the community’s decision to accept or reject these external effects. This is a clear acknowledgement that external factors can play a pivotal role in canon formation, although the community associated with the canon may likely claim power over these factors, regardless of whether that power is real or imagined. Kärjä describes external influences on popular music canon formation, including history and the effects of media, and describes canon formation in popular music as happening in the same way as Bohlman describes canon formation in folk music (Kärjä 2006). Citron explores the idea of internal and external forces on canon formation, exploring the issue of gender inequality in classical music (1990, p.103). She utilises the term coined by Lillian Robinson, a ‘counter canon’, and describes it as a canon of music composed entirely of works by women in opposition to the more mainstream canon of music composed largely by men. She goes on to describe a temporal nature to canon formation, including cultural norms and their effects. ‘Canon formation is complex and embraces a wide swathe of factors that rest on a dual chronological base: conditions and attitudes prevalent at the time of composition and those in force at present’ (1990, p.104). Finally, Dowd et al. (2002) describe the numerous factors which influence canon formation within classical music. These include financial constraints, the need to attract audiences, the introduction of the non-profit symphony orchestra by the social elite, and time constraints involved in musicians having to learn new material instead of material with which they are already familiar.

Bohlman adds another layer to his description of canon and canon formation—caveats about the intentions and possible negative side-effects of canon formation. ‘Few successful classification schemes’, he writes, ‘can avoid paring away some extraneous material from the repertoires they order’ (1988, p.50). He describes the issue of a possible ‘reductionist movement’ wherein claims are made that a repertoire is only truly represented by a limited selection of tunes or text. When it comes to the canon of competitive light music in piping, I do not think these two issues apply, because we are observing an already heavily regulated genre of music due to the rules, traditions, and cultural factors involved. However, a question of the relationship between recurrence and inclusion in the canon, as referenced earlier through Kärjä’s idea of the relationship between repetition and canonisation deserves attention, and could possibly be considered an example of this paring down or reductionist action. He also warns that a classification system can essentially replace a tradition, stating that a ‘surrogate tradition is the most extreme and insidious product of canon formation’ (Bohlman 1988, p.50). Worthy of consideration is the idea that the competitive MSR, both solo and band, is an example of a surrogate tradition, in which a large repertoire of marches, strathspeys, and reels are cast aside in favour of competition style tunes, and this accepted repertoire is further reduced to tunes deemed acceptable for competition by the piping community, resulting in the competition canon.

Bohlman concludes with a poignant statement: ‘At some levels, the discourse of classification therefore serves only to perpetuate old canons; at others, it forges new canons’ (1988, p.51). An argument can certainly be made in relation to the first half of that statement; the identification of a canon of competitive tunes could easily be used to restrict the music performed in competitions via the argument that the canon is established and should not be altered. However, I would argue that this is a fallacy in that canons, as stated above, are open to change, a point that I will return to in relation to the canon of competitive light music from 1947 to 2015. Bohlman supports this notion that canons are not set in stone, but open to change, when he posits that ‘because the social basis of a community is continuously in flux, the folk music canon is always in the process of forming and of responding creatively to new texts and changing contexts’ (1988, p.104). It should be considered that the perpetuation of an old canon is not necessarily or inherently bad; the identification and perpetuation of a canon can help preserve that living canon for future generations. Bohlman’s point that classification can forge new canons is perhaps more forward looking, hinting that the identification of boundaries can sometimes make breaking or moving away from those boundaries easier, and sometimes even enticing. The change and innovation involved therein can help cultures to grow, thrive, and in some instances even survive.

Canon formation in competitive bagpipe light music

The systems by which the formation of the competitive MSR canon occur, for both solo and bands, varies. In relation to the solo canon, McKerrell states: ‘I argue that this canon exists, firstly, because pipers are confident that the judges know these tunes and can judge when a piper has deviated from the accepted urtext, and secondly, because only certain tunes have the necessary modal traits that qualify them for competition’ (2005, p.192). This succinctly states two of the most influential and important factors in competitive light music canon formation: adjudicator preference and tune construction. McKerrell goes into detail regarding competitive 2/4 march construction in his dissertation, and as such it will not be discussed in this paper.

Adjudicator preference is likely the most important factor in contemporary repertoire selection for competition, and is a topic of conversation in the piping community, regularly featuring in publications and reviews of competitions. For example, Andrew Berthoff, of the online piping and drumming publication, Pipes|Drums, published a blog post addressing the perceived issue of pipe band adjudicators being closed-minded when it comes to repertoire selection. He also takes care to make the point that there are exceptions to this issue, but in calling them exceptions indicates that he believes this closed-mindedness is the case most of the time (Berthoff, 2016). While anecdotal evidence, it is indicative of a regular conversation in piping regarding the stagnation of competition MSRs, especially in pipe bands. The post was met with a modicum of opposition in the comments section, further indicating that this is an issue of consideration for pipers. McKerrell further supports the idea of adjudicator preference in his dissertation saying of his canon of competitive 2/4 marches: ‘One feature of this canon of tunes is age of composition, as the newer compositions tend not to be entered into the competitions for fear the judges will not know them’ (2005, pp.196–197).

Another factor, intertwined with adjudicator preference, but not overtly stated in McKerrell’s writing, is competitive drive. In the competition–performance paradigm of piping, the musical performance is not always the most important factor to the competitor. Sometimes, competitors play to win, and musical decisions become secondary to that goal.

Much as with symphony orchestras, where a number of conditions including fiscal constraints, time constraints and both audience and performer satisfaction, must be taken into account when considering canon formation, one must consider the multitude of conditions which affect the formation of the competitive canon of light music. Competitors often discuss adjudicator preference, but are not always faultless when it comes to the lack of change in the competitive repertoire of tunes. When opportunities are presented for pipers to perform music outside their normal repertoire, the opportunities are not always seized. For example, the Duncan Johnstone Memorial Piping Competition, held at The National Piping Centre in Glasgow, features a jig competition where competitors are required to submit three jigs composed or arranged by Duncan Johnstone. Every year, a contingent of the competitors who sign up for this competition fail to learn the new music required to compete in this competition and subsequently withdraw. Another example of pipers not fully taking advantage of the opportunity to introduce new music was the introduction of the freestyle solo piping competitions in the Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario in 2008. In this format, half of the jig competitions at highland games were replaced by a competition in which competitors were given a two- to four-minute time frame where they could perform a small medley of tunes. Some pipers opted to play a simple hornpipe and jig, although others did create short medleys which introduced repertoire unlikely to be heard in solo competition at that time. It is clear that musical construction and notions of tradition are not the only factors governing what repertoire enters the competition canon.


The parameter of the music observed in this paper is that of competitive light music, both solos and bands, at the highest level, from 1947 to 2015. On the macro-scale, the mid-twentieth century was chosen as a start date because previous scholarly work on this topic ends during this period (e.g. Donaldson, 2000; Forrest 2009). On the micro-scale of choosing a specific starting point, 1947 marked the inauguration of the World Pipe Band Championships (henceforth referred to as the World Championships or World’s) by the then Scottish Pipe Band Association3.

Solo repertoire has been drawn from the most prestigious solo piping light music competitions: The Argyllshire Gathering at Oban (henceforth referred to as Oban); The Northern Meeting at Inverness (Inverness); The Glenfiddich Piping Championship, formerly the Grant’s Championship (Glenfiddich); and the Uist and Barra Professional Piping Competition (Uist and Barra)4. For band competitions, nearly all data has been gathered from the Grade 1 World Pipe Band Championships, with a relatively small amount gathered from the Cowal Highland Games to supplement the data available regarding the World’s. These competitions are regarded in the piping community as elite contests, to which entry is restricted to those who have earned the privilege to compete. I have opted to solely research light music, omitting piobaireachd, the classical music of the bagpipe, from my work. The canonical, cultural, and historical issues involved differ so greatly from those of light music to merit separate study. Although my broader research involves the solo strathspey and reel, hornpipe and jig, as well as band MSRs and medleys, this paper focuses on the competitive solo 2/4 march both as a comparative study with Simon McKerrell’s work, and as support for further research into competitive piping canons.

This article’s consideration of the competitive canon begins with an already published canonical list of competitive tunes from McKerrell’s 2005 dissertation. After discovering evidence, both written and conversationally, that there was indeed a canon of acceptable repertoire for this genre, he compiled a list of tunes from his own experience as a competitor. Through discussions, attendance at competitions, and the published list of premier grade light music played at the Argyllshire Gathering in 2003, the list was expanded. He withdrew tunes from the list, especially pipe band-style tunes, which are either less suited to solo piping or simply not played in solo competitions. It results in what he describes as his ‘estimation of the current canon of 2/4 competition marches’—a total of 64 march tunes (McKerrell, 2005, pp.30–34, 192–197).

The method by which I created my list of 2/4 marches shared some similarities, but also featured a number of differences. Much like McKerrell, I collected data from published lists of repertoire for competition. However, the vast majority of my data came from the Piping Times, having inspected every edition for competition results and reviews, especially those results and reviews which contained repertoire data. Additional data was collected in an effort to fill in the data gaps found in the Piping Times, using sources including recordings of competitions, such as Glenfiddich CDs, archived live streams, and The World Pipe Band Championships recording series, both vinyl and CD. Articles in Piping Times that analysed repertoire from competitions were also used, along with results and repertoire data found from more recent years in online result postings, such as those from the website Pipes|Drums. I also updated my list by attending competitions and through conversation evidence, although I found that conversation evidence regarding repertoire submission did not always align with the collected qualitative data. A discussion of quantitative facts regarding canon and perception of canon by the competitive piping community is too extensive for this article, and will have to wait for discussion in a later publication. In essence, McKerrell and I worked our lists in reverse of each other; he began with qualitative data and refined it using quantitative data, whereas I began with quantitative data and refined it using qualitative data.

One of the key differences in our lists is the temporal aspect of the data. McKerrell explicitly states that his list reflects the canon current at the time of study; in other words, a canon of 2/4 competition marches circa 2005. In stark contrast to this, my list reflects the longer time period of 1947 to 2015. As a result, my data is not only presented as a whole, but is also broken into time periods: 1947–1969, 1970–1990, and 1990–2015. This breakdown allows an examination of the development of the canon over time, and aids in comparing and contrasting various time frames in competitive piping history. Through the comparative analysis of these time periods it becomes possible to witness Bohlman’s aforementioned notion of a ‘flourish of popularity’ in that tunes do not normally remain static in their popularity, but become more or less popular over time (Bohlman, 1988, p.110).

In spite of a strong alignment between my list of tunes and McKerrell’s, there are some potential pitfalls in the method by which I have collected my data which should be addressed for clarity, as well as the explanation of the reasoning and justification for their usage. In my repertoire data there are a number of gaps, sometimes stretching multiple years, where no repertoire information is available, despite consulting numerous sources. Frequently, competitive results are listed, but with no repertoire data attached. While these data gaps might be viewed as a flaw in my research, the repetition of tunes when data is available indicates that the core canon of music is not changing much, if at all. Additionally, recorded results presented without repertoire data, reveal an important part of the piping community’s culture, in that the community is sometimes more concerned with competitive results than music. It also, in reference to the canon, indicates a possible predictability of repertoire being performed.

As mentioned, the majority of my repertoire data comes from the results of competitions, meaning it does not always reflect music that was submitted but not chosen by the judges, or music that did not make the prize list. To that end, an argument could be made that my canonical list is more a canon of successful tunes than of a limited repertoire. However, my data contains examples of full lists of tunes submitted by competitors in various competitions, which align with data collected from results. Additionally, in reference to Bohlman’s idea of a possible reductionist approach in the paring away of repertoire, I have opted not to remove any tunes, no matter how infrequently they appear in my data, from the lists provided. This gives the best representation of the change in repertoire popularity over the three periods, allowing for the observance of tunes going from unpopular to popular, such as The Braes of Castle Grant, which goes from the least popular march group during the period 1947 to 1969, to being the most popular tune during the period 1970 to 1990.

The canon of the solo competition 2/4 march

My list of 2/4 marches contains a total of 74 tunes. It is logical that my list would be larger than McKerrell’s, given the extended time period of my study. Of importance, though, is the similarity between our two lists; 56 tunes appear on both lists. In other words, only eight tunes appear in McKerrell’s list that do not appear in mine, and 18 tunes appear in my list which do not appear in his. Of the tunes which appear in McKerrell’s list but not my own, some are debatable as to whether they should be included, due to their nature of being played more by bands than by soloists. These include The Clan MacRae Society and The Conundrum. Similarly, the tunes Donald Cameron and Balmoral Highlanders both appear in my list but are tunes more often heard played by bands rather than soloists. However, they do appear in the repertoire data, so have been left in. Interestingly, Balmoral Highlanders, typically a band tune, did feature somewhat prominently as a solo tune from 1970 to 1990, but clearly fell out of favour with soloists as it does not appear in my data after that5.

An example of the temporal effect on the data comes from the appearance of the tune David Ross in my list, but not McKerrell’s. David Ross is an obvious tune to include in a list of competition 2/4 marches today, but knowing that McKerrell’s list was published in 2005 it makes sense that David Ross would not be included. The tune only appears in my data twice, once in 1999 when Roddy MacLeod, MBE, took 3rd place at the Inverness Former Winners MSR, and most notably in 2007, when Alasdair Gillies won the Oban Former Winners MSR playing the tune.

Below are the three lists containing what I argue to be representative of the canon of the solo competition 2/4 march during the three periods I have identified in my research.

Lists of canon
Lists of canon
Lists of canon

Given the similarities between McKerrell’s and my own methodology and data, I posit that my canonical lists of tunes for the solo march, strathspey, and reel as well as the band march, strathspey, and reel are representative of the canon from 1947 to 2015. My data for the solo hornpipe and jig is far less comprehensive than that of the solo MSR, likely a function of the MSR being held in higher esteem than the hornpipe and jig competitions, and therefore subject to more thorough attention amongst commentators and competition record keepers. A parallel may be drawn between the disparity in repertoire information between the hornpipe and jig and MSR, and the MSR and piobaireachd. Piobaireachd is generally regarded as the pinnacle of solo piping above the MSR, and so may receive more attention on that basis. However, it could also be that recording piobaireachd repertoire is easier as there is only one tune to record instead of three, or possibly six, as is the case with an MSR. With regards to the hornpipe and jig, the repertoire indicates more change and introduction of new music than in the MSR, indicating a far more fluid repertoire of tunes. This fluidity of repertoire could be another reason for the disparity in repertoire information between the hornpipe and jig and MSR, in that there is a greater chance that the person recording the repertoire would be less likely to know the tunes being performed. To that end, my list of hornpipe and jig repertoire is both considerably smaller and more fluid, thus I cannot call my list of tunes for this genre a canon. Likewise, in the pipe band medley competition, the regular introduction of new music, albeit in an established format and with far better documentation than the solo hornpipe and jig, leads me to believe that a canon of repertoire for this genre is far more fluid and difficult to classify.


Within solo MSR competition for the Great Highland Bagpipe, there exists a canon of acceptable repertoire that can be performed. This canon is a living tradition, which on occasion allows entry of new music into its ranks, but more heavily features a rotation of tune popularity within itself. By extending the temporality of previous research it is possible to not only create a more holistic view of the canon of repertoire in various genres of competitive piping, but to observe an ebb and flow of tune popularity within the canon. Further analysis of the repertoire is necessary to understand not only what was played but why it was played, involving further exploration of interview data in conjunction with quantitative repertoire data to create a more holistic approach to the analysis of trends in competitive piping from 1947 to 2015. Additionally, this analysis should extend to the solo strathspey and reel and hornpipe and jig, as well as the band MSR and medley, followed by a comparative study of these various genres. Detailed study of the data presented within this article, as well as the solo strathspey and reel, solo hornpipe and jig, band MSR, and band medley will be published in my final PhD dissertation.


  1. Competition 2/4 marches are highly ornamented marches written in 2/4 time, comprised of four to eight eight-bar repeated sections, used in piping competitions.[]
  2. The Great Highland Bagpipe is a type of bagpipe native to Scotland, primarily associated with the Gaelic-speaking Highlands and Islands region to Scotland’s north and west.[]
  3. This replaced the Cowal Highland Gathering, which served as the World Championships stretching back to 1906, as the official World Championships. To be clear, the Cowal Gathering continued after 1947, and continues as a prestigious competition to this day, but no longer hosts the world title. For the purposes of keeping this research concise I have opted solely to research pipe bands during the era of the modern iteration of the World Pipe Band Championships beginning in 1947.[]
  4. An argument could be made that the Uist and Barra is not of the same competitive standing as the first three competitions listed, and that if it is included so also should other invitational competitions. The Uist and Barra was included due to its standing as a premier invitational competition, its inclusion of a hornpipe and jig competition, the ability for competitors to submit tunes of their own choice with no repertoire restrictions other than those of normal competitions, and most importantly an abundance of repertoire information available from this competition.[]
  5. For more information on the differences between band and solo 2/4 march construction see McKerrell’s dissertation (2005, pp.227–232).[]


I would like to thank Professor Joshua Dickson and Professor Alistair MacDonald of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for their encouragement and support in the production of this article. I would also like to thank the libraries of The National Piping Centre and The College of Piping for graciously granting me access to their facilities and the information contained therein.


  • Berthoff, A., 2016. Oldies. Pipes|Drums Blogpipe, [blog] 28 October. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 March 2017].
  • Bohlman, P., 1988. The study of folk music in the modern world, Folkloristics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Citron, M., 1990. Gender, Professionalism and the Musical Canon. The Journal of Musicology 8 1, pp.102–117. <>.
  • Dickson, J. (Ed.), 2009. The Highland bagpipe: music, history, tradition, Ashgate popular and folk music series. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Donaldson, W., 2008. The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society, 1750–1950. Edinburgh: John Donald.
  • Dowd, T., Liddle, K., Lupo, K., Borden, A., 2002. Organizing the musical canon: the repertoires of major U.S. symphony orchestras, 1842 to 1969. Poetics 30, pp.35–61. <>.
  • Forrest, J.D, 2009. Ceol Beag: the development and performance practice of the “Small Music” of the Highland Bagpipe (c.1820–1966). Glasgow: Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
  • Gilmour, W., 1996. What makes a 2/4 March a Competition 2/4 March?. Piping Times, 48(9), pp.27–29.
  • Kärjä, A., 2006. A Prescribed Alternative Mainstream: Popular Music and Canon Formation. Popular Music 25, pp.3–19.
  • MacPhee, D., 2017. Interview with Donald MacPhee. Interviewed by Andrew Bova. The National Piping Centre Library 19 March 2017.
  • McKerrell, S.A., 2005. Scottish competition bagpipe performance: sound, mode and aesthetics (Thesis). The University of St Andrews.
  • Piping Times, various, 1948–2015.
  • pipes|drums, 2008. PPBSO votes to lengthen medleys; new “freestyle” professional piping event [online] Available at <> [accessed 3 August 2017].
  • West, G., 2014. Voicing Scotland: folk, culture, nation. Edinburgh: Luath Press Limited.

ANDREW BOVA holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Music degree in Scottish bagpiping, both awarded by Carnegie Mellon University. He currently attends the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as a PhD candidate researching competitive piping from 1947 to 2015, with a particular interest in the ideas of convention, change, and innovation. In the context of his research, Andrew is a participant observer, being both a solo competitor and member of Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band.