The Master Piper (2011 Edition) (book)
The first edition of William Dixon’s 1733 manuscript of Border pipe tunes was published in 1995, and confirmed what Border piping enthusiasts had long suspected: a sophisticated piping tradition with its own distinctive voice had flourished in the 18th century in the Border country. Here, remarkably, was a first-hand account of that tradition.
“Beyond all reasonable doubt, this is the oldest known manuscript of bagpipe music. Need I say more? It’s one of the great discoveries of the century. It takes the history of Border piping back by two or three generations and gives us a whole new way of playing the bagpipes. But don’t just take my word for it: play the tunes, learn them, and see how well they ‘lie under the fingers’. It’s the real thing.......”
— Roderick D Cannon, Music Editor, The Piobaireachd Society, November 1995
William Dixon’s repertoire is the only known ‘horse’s mouth’ record of Border piping from a time when, and a place where, the tradition was at its peak. It furnishes a firm foundation, not only for a revival of that tradition, but also for its revitalisation.
Custom-made for nine-note chanters, the tunes have been enthusiastically taken up by players of Border pipes and Scottish smallpipes and by many other pipers, as well as diverse fiddlers, blowers, squeezers and pluckers. Matt Seattle’s presentation, at once scholarly and entertaining, sets the music in context and provides an entry point into a deep appreciation of the Border piper’s art and its unique place in the traditional music spectrum. All of which is simply another way of saying “play and enjoy!”
For the 2011 edition the presentation has been thoroughly revised, the text overhauled and much additional information included, the book growing from 100 to 134 pages. Longer acquaintance with William Dixon’s music has reinforced the sense that this is pipe music of another order. The long awaited third edition aims to make the music more accessible to the general reader, and to further explore some of its secrets for those who wish to go deeper.