An innovative use of oral history that challenges accepted accounts of traditional bagpiping.
Old and New World Highland Bagpiping provides a comprehensive biographical and genealogical account of pipers and piping in highland Scotland and Gaelic Cape Breton.
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 Gàihealtachlan 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.