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Old and New World Highland Bagpiping

The work is the result of over thirty years of oral fieldwork among the last Gaels in Cape Breton, for whom piping fit unself-consciously into community life, as well as an exhaustive synthesis of Scottish archival and secondary sources. Reflecting the invaluable memories of now-deceased new world Gaelic lore-bearers, John Gibson shows that traditional community piping in both the old and new world Gaihealtachlan was, and for a long time remained, the same, exposing the distortions introduced by the tendency to interpret the written record from the perspective of modern, post-eighteenth-century bagpiping. Following up the argument in his previous book, Traditional Gaelic Bagpiping, 1745-1945, Gibson traces the shift from tradition to modernism in the old world through detailed genealogies, focusing on how the social function of the Scottish piper changed and step-dance piping progressively disappeared. Old and New World Highland Bagpiping will stir controversy and debate in the piping world while providing reminders of the value of oral history and the importance of describing cultural phenomena with great care and detail.
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Will stir controversy and debate in the piping world

About the Author

John G. Gibson, a scholar of Gaelic culture and ethnographer who lives in Judique, Nova Scotia, is also the author of Traditional Gaelic Bagpiping, 1745-1945 and The Back o' the Hill.


"Gibson's passion for the subject shines through on every page and there can be no denying his knowledge of the sources for piping history." David Waterhouse, University of Toronto "An excellent work, well researched, splendidly footnoted, a book anyone with an interest in the subject will find a 'must have.'" The Canadian Historical Review "John Gibson has provided in this new book an incredible wealth of information." Mario Champagne, Department of Music, Stanford University "Throughout Old and New World Highland Bagpiping, John Gibson emphasises and decodes the traditional Gaelic social and cultural relationships between many of the clans and families in Scotland and in Cape Breton. Gibson manages to do an exceptional job of this while incorporating his awareness of social differences between classes for each Gaelic Scot and their experiences with piping and pipers." Erin C.M. Grant, University of Guelph

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