Knowing a tune is good. Knowing a set is better. Being able to play a good sounding set that also lets you check the tuning on your pipes is the best. Having a good tune, or set, that allows you to make sure everything sounds correct, but you can also use to entertain, kills two birds with one stone and gives your repertoire depth.
During the later part of the 1800’s there was a belief among many bagpipers that Piobaireachd, or classical bagpipe music, was close to being lost. One of the music's greatest supporters, and one of the founding members of the Piobaireachd Society, was Major-General C.S. Thomason. He spent much of his life studying, collecting, and finally publishing a major work on piobaireachd, Ceol Mor.
The origins of piobaireachd extend back to at least the late 1500s. The MacCrimmons of Skye are credited with creating the basic ideas and structure of the form. One of the more influential of the MacCrimmons was Donald Mor MacCrimmon.
Regal. Stately. Majestic. It’s one of the biggest bagpipe tunes ever, behind only "Amazing Grace" and perhaps "Scotland the Brave." "Highland Cathedral" is – or should be – in every piper’s repertoire. But how much do you know about this tune? Time and again I’ll see it listed in programs as "Highland Cathedral" – traditional Scottish bagpipe tune. But that’s wrong.