Competitive Scottish bagpipe repertoire from 1947–2015 : convention, change, and innovation

  • Andrew Bova

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis examines the development of competitive Scottish bagpipe repertoire from 1947 through 2015, focusing on the concepts of convention, change, and innovation within the highest levels of light music competition. Research encompasses both solo and band competition, focusing on The Northern Meeting, The Argyllshire Gathering, The Glenfiddich Solo Piping Championships, The Uist and Barra Annual Invitational Piping Competition, and The World Pipe Band Championships. The inauguration of the modern iteration of The World Pipe Band Championships in 1947 serves as the starting point for this study. As a member of the communities in question, emic observation and reflexive exercises throughout the course of study have shaped my role as researcher and informed my own performance practice. Chapter three explores concepts fundamental to this thesis: tradition, convention, change, and innovation. Chapter four offers an introduction to repertoire data collection and the synthesis of quantitative data with interview evidence from key figures in the pipiing community. Chapters five, six, and seven explore the solo march, strathspey, and reel competition; the pipe band march, strathspey and reel competition; and the pipe band medley, respectively, focusing on the development of repertoire and community reflections on these competitions and the decision-making processes of competing pipers. Building on this analysis, chaper eight explores the concept of repertoire canons in competitive piping, both identifying areas where canons do and do not exist and listing the repertoire that comprises said canons. Chapter nine offers commentary on the organological development of the bagpipe within the specified time period, identified as having had a key impact on competitive practices through analysis of interview data. Finally, these findings are synthesised, identifying areas in which convention, change, and innovation have occurrred in competitive piping and the complex relationships that have influenced and driven the artform from 1947-2015.
Date of Award12 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorJoshua Dickson (Supervisor) & Alistair MacDonald (Supervisor)


  • Bagpipes
  • Competition
  • Traditional music
  • Pipe bands
  • Repertoire
  • Innovation

Access Status

  • Full text open

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