Pìobaireachd Society conference

Yesterday I was at the Birnam Hotel in Dunkeld, to address the Pìobaireachd Society‘s annual conference on the subject of “clàrsach ceòl mór”.

I was delighted and honoured to be asked by the Society to give this presentation on my work.

In this video, you can’t see the slides I projected onto the screen, so here’s a PDF of the slides.

Instead of trying to make any kind of historical claim for the harp origins of pibroch, I decided that I would talk about my own personal journey, starting with the medieval harps in the museums in Ireland and Scotland, commissioning replicas, working out plausible stringing and tunings, and playing techniques, and searching for repertory appropriate to the instrument.

I also talked about the development of the idea that pibroch originated with, or was connected to, the medieval Gaelic courtly music of the clàrsach or Gaelic harp.

I illustrated the talk with performances on the replica Queen Mary harp, playing Denis O’Hampsey’s set of Burns March, some fragments of Caniad San Silin out of Robert ap Huw’s manuscript, and finally giving a complete performance of one of the pibrochs attributed to Raghnall Mac Ailean Òig, and featured on my CD Tarbh.

Charging the electric car at the Ecotricity fast charging station, at Kinross services.
Charging the electric car at the Ecotricity fast charging station, Kinross.

I had a wonderful day; the sky was clear blue and the spring sunshine streamed down onto the Perthshire hills and woods. I had a lovely drive up there (though I narrowly avoided disaster, getting to Kinross services for a recharge with only 6 miles remaining on the clock!)

It was good to catch up with Keith Sanger, and I had a good talk with Barnaby Brown about presentation style, and reconstructing ancient lyres, amongst other things.  I was also very pleased to finally meet David Hester, who runs the Alt Pibroch Club, an online community for research and experimental performance of this repertory.

I got there in time to see David’s presentation, which was very interesting and thought-provoking. Barnaby was filming all the presentations so hopefully you’ll be able to see David’s talk online soon.

4 thoughts on “Pìobaireachd Society conference”

  1. Youtube would not accept this video for upload, for some obscure technical reason. So I have put the video on archive.org instead. I hope you can play it here on this page. Let me know if you have any problems with this new video option.

  2. Really enjoyed your presentation, so glad it was on YouTube, perhaps I missed it, but you said Burns March was one of three tunes essential to beginners, what are the other two? I was excited to see that O’farrell’s collection for the Uilleann pipes has Byrns March, and I’m hoping he has the other two as well. Thanks again!! Fascinating stuff, the possible link between the double tenor drone on old Irish and Scottish pipes to a harp makes so much sense to me!!

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