Pibroch Rhythm: Translating Early Gaelic
Bagpipe Music in the 21st Century

Robinson McClellan

Approved in Partial Completion of the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree
Yale School of Music, March 30, 2007

This research appears in an anthology of Highland Bagpipe scholarship in Ashgate's Popular and Folk Music Series (published October 2009). The new, much shorter version focuses exclusively on the question of rhythm, and includes many improvements based on the advice of Peter Cooke, Roderick Cannon, Barnaby Brown, Joshua Dickson, Allan MacDonald, and other experts in the field.

The version posted on this page is therefore not up to date; however, it includes topics not covered in the new version, such as pibroch's potential as a creative resource for classical composers.

To learn more about and/or purchase the new anthology, CLICK HERE.

Hear and read about the recent Pibroch Recital at Yale, featuring Matthew Welch

I welcome your feedback and suggestions. Thank you!
For more information please contact Robin McClellan via email

Read ABSTRACT online

Download FULL TEXT (PDF)





I do not yet have permission for online use of most of the audio samples in the study. Those I have permission for are below. The Donald MacPherson recordings are available from Siubhal.

The other recordings cited in the text are available from All Celtic Music or MusicScotland.com

To purchase the complete score for Chisholm's Piano Concerto, excerpted in Example 4-3 above (and for other useful resources of all kinds), visit The Scottish Music Centre

Musical Examples indicated below appear in the PDF above.

Audio Sample 2: Maol Donn - Donald MacPherson - excerpt
Musical Example 1-1

Audio Sample 4: The Big Spree - Donald MacPherson - excerpt
Example 2-3a

Audio Sample 11: Maol Donn - Donald MacPherson, whole theme (urlar) - excerpt of total
Example 3-2

I got a kiss of the King's hand - arr. Robinson McClellan, for 3 Oboes and English Horn
Example 4-2