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MacDougall's Gathering

Historical commentry by Ron MacLeod

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MacDougall's Gathering

In the 1700's and into the mid-1800s MacDougalls maintained a Piping School called The Piper’s Croft near Oban. It is possible that MacDougall's Gathering was composed by a MacDougall of that period. However, there is uncertainty about which MacDougall and, also, uncertainty about the tune's name – a question being, was it originally called a Salute as has been suggested?

Given the history of the Clan, it is possible that the tune goes back much further in time, possibly 200 or 300 years earlier. It seems the tune was nameless and that it was resurrected and named by someone, maybe one of the fine MacDougall piper⁄composers of the Piper’s Croft would have been a likely candidate for that task.

With the opening notes, one can imagine oneself on a castle turret calling the Clan to the Chieftain. Face south and sound a quick call on the pipe, then west, then north, then east and then launch into the ground of the tune. That opening statement certainly speaks the language of a true Gathering when given a particular emphasis.

Andrew Wright once expressed the view that MacDougall's Gathering is a fine example of a piper's piece. That unlike a number of piobaireachd that originated in the folk songs of the time, MacDougall's Gathering is a free–form composition created for the bagpipe alone.

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