Play It Like You Sing It, Volume One: History, Culture, and Images


This book, the first volume in the Shears Collection of Bagpipe Music and Dance Culture, tells the story of the many families who maintained traditional Gaelic piping in Nova Scotia through history, culture, and images.

Out of print.

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  • Paperback
  • Published October 2018
  • 9 x 12 inches
  • 148 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-988747-02-6

The history of the Great Highland bagpipes in Nova Scotia began in the 1750s. Scottish and Highland piping traditions continued in Nova Scotia for over 250 years, through periods of immigration, community building, Confederation, economic out-migration, and two world wars. In Gaelic communities of the mainland and Cape Breton, throughout the 19th century bagpipe music was interwoven with fiddle music, Gaelic singing, and traditional and evolving dance traditions. A unique form of dance music emerged and flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, characterized by lively jigs and rousing strathspeys, reels, and quicksteps. Many of these tunes existed in multiple regional variations before the modern standardization of piping. Many also had corresponding Gaelic words known as puirt-á-beul or mouth music, which were often used to teach and transmit pipe music within in families and communities, as well as providing enjoyment in daily life.

Volume One: History, Culture, and Images tells the story of the many families and individuals who maintained this important aspect of Nova Scotia Gaelic culture despite adversity, through history, culture, and over 100 images of pipers and their instruments in 19th and 20th-century Nova Scotia.

Volume Two: The Music is sold separately.

Additional information

Weight .648 kg