Raising the tone and changing the tune of a national instrument

Submitting Institution

University of the Highlands & Islands

Unit of Assessment

Modern Languages and Linguistics

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Curatorial and Related Studies, Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

This work, summarised in published form, has reshaped the history, musicology and sociology of the bagpipe as a high profile, popular and international musical instrument, enlarging understanding of a misunderstood and stereotyped phenomenon of the nation's culture. Outcomes of the work are changing the intellectual environment for research, teaching and the performer communities. Based on a collection held in the public domain and forensic evidence in database and CD form, `cultural capital' has been created for the nation and the knowledge is safeguarded for future generations and effectively propagated for research. Impact is also evident in international recognition of the work.

Underpinning research

Underpinning research extended over the REF eligible period 1993-2008, culminating in the book Bagpipes. A national collection of a national instrument and CD-ROM (National Museums Scotland 2008). Foundations had been laid in preliminary fieldwork to gauge levels of understanding and to test research questions in public spheres e.g. Edinburgh Festival Exhibition, `Pipes, Harps & Fiddles' (1976) and `Check-list' catalogue published by Edinburgh University (1983. ISBN 0 907635 09 1). This field of research was prompted by the need to challenge and expand both popular and specialist knowledge, and to promote interest, debate and further research into a musical culture and its sociology that had remained outside significant intellectual and musicological scrutiny. Data collection and analysis were the drivers for research which was based on the preliminary need to supply a musicology of the bagpipe as an international phenomenon in order to overturn prejudice and preconception. The primary source of a substantial collection of instruments and associated material — an `organology' — has never existed in the UK and had never been scrutinised because it was dispersed and `invisible' or ignored because it did not fit a stereotype. The early stages of the research and data collection resulted in the `Museum of Piping' in the National Piping Centre (1995) and publication of a SCRAN database (2003). These outputs put an organology for the bagpipe into the public domain and encouraged a new critical awareness of a multi-facetted instrument. The organology has now been supplemented by more data and these remain as `clean' data for continuing research and re-interpretation.

Between 1993 and 2008, the research was tested against every major European public museum and conservatoire collection, including specialist overseas collections such as the Crosby Brown Collection in the New York Met, the Musée des Instruments de Musique in Brussels, and collections in France and Spain. A sustained stream of outputs included lectures, broadcasts, exhibitions and demonstrations. Ongoing research was summarised in The Book of the Bagpipe (Appletree Press 1999, 80-pages, illustrated) written for a general readership, and formulated in a series of 32 specialist articles (to date, 2013), disseminating the research for peer-review in both scholarly and performer communities, while also maintaining a flow of 21 further published items to distil information verbally and graphically for the widest possible audience.

The subject itself (i.e. the musicology) advanced into different research pathways such as scrutiny of a varied and changing status for the instrument in Scotland (as opposed to a readily assumed autonomous and fixed `traditional' element in Scottish culture) and evident links to the bagpipe as international phenomenon in Ireland, Britain and `borrowing on' the wider Europe. Other research insights included the understanding of a more complex and nuanced surviving musical culture in Scotland and roots in both Gaelic tradition and the European Neo-Baroque. Between 2008 and 2013, the research was actively disseminated (in line with UHI community engagement) with Hugh Cheape and Decker Forrest giving lectures and performances in Skye and Raasay. This exemplifies a two-way process of knowledge exchange and community engagement.

References to the research

The 3 most relevant* were built on key elements of the underpinning research, that is, defining the Scottish bagpipe as a European phenomenon, the discovery of the creation of a new instrument in the Baroque era to serve European Baroque and Neo-baroque tastes for pastoral music, and the identification of long-term traits in a pan-Gaelic culture that supported the creation and survival of a `Great Highland Bagpipe' and endowed it with unique qualities. Each of these proposals was entirely original and based on fresh evidence, and has been subjected to critical review and further exploration in the other articles undernoted:

*1. Hugh Cheape, `The Early History of the Scottish Bagpipe', in Ellen Hickmann, Arnd Adje Both and Ricardo Eichmann (Editors), Studien zur Musikarchäologie V (Papers from the 4th Symposium of the International Study Group on Music Archaeology at Monastery Michaelstein, 19-26 September 2004) Rahden/Westf.: VML 2006, 447-461

*2. Hugh Cheape, `The Pastoral or New Bagpipe: piping and the neo-baroque', in The Galpin Society Journal No. LIX (2007-2008), 285-304

*3. Hugh Cheape, Bagpipes. A national collection of a national instrument. Edinburgh: NMS Enterprises Ltd — Publishing 2008, v+154 pages and CD-ROM. ISBN 978 1 905267 16 3

4. Hugh Cheape, `Traditional Origins of the Piping Dynasties', in Joshua Dickson (Editor), The Highland Bagpipe: Music, History and Tradition. Ashgate Publishing Limited (Ashgate popular and folk music series) 2009, Chapter 5, 97-126. ISBN 9780754666691

5. Michael Newton and Hugh Cheape, `"The keening of women and the roar of the pipe": from clàrsach to bagpipe, 1600-1782', in Ars Lyrica. Journal of the Lyrica Society for Word-Music Relations. Ars Lyrica Celtica. Harvard: Center For European Studies. Volume 17 (2008), 75-95

6. Hugh Cheape and Decker Forrest, `Taigh a' Phìobaire: The Piper's House and the music of the Mackays of Raasay', in Bealoideas. Iris an Chumainn le Bealoideas Eireann (The Journal of the Folklore of Ireland Society) Iml. 80 (2012), 163-182

Details of the impact

Impact is defined in the first instance by a critical demand for the outcomes of the research. Scholarly engagement with a new `musicology' is building awareness of material and ethnological evidence never before considered but now being widely cited. The benefit of assembling for the first time the material evidence for the Great Highland Bagpipe as national icon and drawing on the wealth of other bagpipe material in museum and musical collections worldwide is clear from critical response. The evidence in the public domain is allowing for mature reflection on `new' concepts such as Baroque and Neo-baroque musical traditions and the `invention' of instruments in France in the 17th century and in Britain and Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries. HE teaching now reflects awareness of the deeper significance of the bagpipe in Europe and as pan-European musical instrument, and is drawing on the evidence and parameters laid out by this research for exploring the sociology of the bagpipe as cultural stereotype in Scotland and elsewhere.

The data assembly, endorsed in the Museums & Galleries Commission's Review of Musical Instrument Collections (1993), earned the Anthony Baines Memorial Prize of the Galpin Society in 2009 for the `collection and authoritative published work'. The research led on to regular invitations to lecture and conduct seminars, for example, lecturing to the specialist American Musical Instrument and Galpin Societies, Musica Scotica and Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and annual research seminars in the School of Scottish Studies, as well as invitations to publish results. Average attendance figures at conference lectures and seminars have been in the region of 60. The published research is now being widely adopted in university reading lists eg. Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Sheffield (e.g. MA in World Music), UHI and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Cùrsa Ciùil, Glasgow and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland [RCS], and European and North American universities. A recent review from Glasgow University placed on Amazon includes plaudits: `wide consensus in academia ... balances accessibility with an academic approach ... interdisciplinary ... stimulating CD ... interactivity a mark of 21st century learning ... a book with an eye to the future'. A further review from University of East Anglia included `... a permanent and ground-breaking addition to our literature.'

Exhibitions were mounted in Edinburgh University Reid Music School and in the new National Piping Centre (1994-96) with annual visitor numbers of approximately 20,000. An early response to this research came with an invitation to contribute to the formation of the BA Scottish Music degrees in the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and to contribute to teaching. Hugh Cheape began a lecture series in 2001, which continues with up to 8 lectures annually in the `History & Repertoire' course to classes of 6-12 in each year of a three-year degree. The teaching has now been used for a performance suite for the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland (2012- 2103). The musicology database and book underpin the lecture series and supply learning materials in a subject notoriously poorly served by the secondary literature: `...mainstay of our reading lists on the BA Scottish Music .... essential successor to seminal works from 1970s-90s in that it sifts fact from fiction, grounded in evidence and material culture as opposed to the received wisdom of a 19th-20th century historiography' (Head of Scottish Music, RCS, August 2013).

The reputation of the data and supporting research earned a grant of £15,000 for the preparation of a `Resources for Learning Scotland' database for the bagpipe in SCRAN in 2003, with 550 assets. The methodology was further refined for the CD-ROM `Bagpipes. A national collection of a national instrument' as new musicology and organology database of 2,100 assets published in 2008. The formation of a category and object list systematically arranged supplied terminology for a `thesaurus' which was adopted for the terminology bank of the MDA [Museums Documentation Association] and published online with thesauri for UK museum collections. The research was awarded the degree of PhD by the University of Edinburgh in 2007. The book and CD were launched in the National Museums Scotland by the Minister of Culture, Media and Sport with international media coverage on publication in 2008-9 and including a pre-publication Guardian feature article, 19.04.08. It was then recommended by Alexander McCall Smith in the Christmas Scotsman. The book and CD were re-launched with a performance `event' in the Edinburgh Book Festival 2008. Approximately 200 attended. The book has sold out twice and is being reprinted, and together with the CD with data files, editorial information, sound files and graphics is being widely used by scholars, specialists and performers. The further development of discrete topics within the thesis and book since 2008 has led to invitations to address particular constituencies. For impact, these demonstrate reach in terms of diversity of audiences and outreach in terms of effective dissemination to local communities; for example, Hugh Cheape was asked to address the Conference of the Pìobaireachd Society in 2010, a specialist group of about 200, on the music of the Mackays of Raasay, and the same topic was then used for a performance-lecture in the National Piping Centre `Piping Live' Festivals in 2010 and 2011 and in the Island of Raasay on 29.06.13 This has led to a two-way process of knowledge exchange whereby specialist research is fed into communities in Skye and Raasay (as cradles of traditional Highland piping) and the knowledge base is strengthened in turn by contextual and collateral information assimilated from language and primary sources within the region.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  • www.nms.ac.uk/publishing for detail on marketing and reception of Bagpipes (2008), 74,000 words, print-run 1,250. Size of book and modest price of £15.99 made it an attractive buy for general readership. Initial print-run of 1,250 sold out, reprint of 750 nearing sell-out and reprint of 500 proposed.
  • www.appletree.ie for research synthesised for general readership in The History of the Bagpipe (Appletree Press 2009) with 5,000 print-run. This is a repackaged 80-page illustrated edition of The Book of the Bagpipe (Appletree Press 1999), £6.99, 5,000 print- run.
  • `Resources for Learning Scotland' database with 550 assets in SCRAN Project 0869, the online resource for educational use by the public, schools, FE and HE. See SCRAN User Comments on www.scran.ac.uk/info/usercomments.php e.g. `a world-class cultural resource', `a good teaching resource', `valuable for schools and public alike', `user-friendly', `a cornerstone of ICT developments', `no other resource like it'. Sample for annual `hits' on individual records in Project 0869 generated by subscribing users, 780 in 2005, 320 in 2013 (to date, June 2013).
  • http://www.nms.ac.uk/collections for recommendation of the full organology database of more than 2,100 assets, also available as CD-ROM and distributed on demand by the National Museums Scotland to museum collections databases worldwide and issued with the book. Discussed on BBC Radio Scotland `Pipeline' August 2008.
  • www.socantscot.org for the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Royal Society of Edinburgh (2009-10 syllabus), and other lectures and demonstrations including Musica Scotica (x2) www.musicascotica.org.uk
  • Principal and teaching staff in the National Piping Centre, for impact on the National Piping Centre lecture and demonstration programme and on the BA degree teaching and syllabus for the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland.
  • Favourable reviews e.g. `a fascinating book' (The Scotsman), `the first comprehensive survey', `careful scholarship', `worthy of honour', `his work on the pastoral pipes in particular is seminal', `thorough awareness of the Gaelic context, including a proper understanding of the terminology' (John Purser, Review of Scottish Culture 21 (2009)), `a consummate historian', `book of crucial importance ... beautifully presented', `a work of deep, informed challenging scholarship and ... key text for many years to come' (Gary West, Galpin Society Journal 62 (2009)). Recent Amazon review from Glasgow University: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bagpipes-National-Collection-Instrument/dp/1905267169/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1377631550&sr=8-2&keywords=bagpipes+a+national+collection
  • Anthony Baines Prize (2009) for outstanding contributions to organology. Citation: http://www.galpinsociety.org/Galpin_htm_files/Baines%20Prize%20Citation%202009.pdf
  • Invitation to join the Steering Group for the Edinburgh University HLF `Collecting Cultures' project 2008-2013, leading to new musicological database, catalogue and exhibition in the Edinburgh International Festival, August 2013. Contribution acknowledged in Project report to HLF, available from a named representative from Edinburgh University.
  • Measurable impact in citations e.g. Academia.edu — sample measurement of 22 keywords from 7 search engines in 30 days (January-February 2012), and Academia.edu Analytics Dashboard update sample, 18 March 2013, records 8 views from 3 countries in the preceding week.