Jimmy McIntosh Piobaireachd Scholarship

Jimmy McIntosh’s influence in the Pittsburgh region is long lasting and undeniable. Recognizing his impact the Pittsburgh Piping Society is proud to help facilitate the Jimmy McIntosh Piobaireachd Scholarship.

Why a piobaireachd scholarship?

Portrait of Jimmy McIntosh

Jimmy devoted his life to teaching piobaireachd, and he conveyed the music as he was taught by Bob Brown and Bob Nicol, the “Bobs of Balmoral,” a tradition going back to the MacCrimmons of the Isle of Skye.

Many of Jimmy’s students have achieved great success,winning the top prizes in Scotland and North America. It was Jimmy’s wish to create a scholarship enabling promising pipers to learn from those he taught in the Balmoral Tradition, so they might continue to carry the torch that was handed to him by Brown and Nicol.

What is Piobaireachd?

Piobaireachd (Pibroch), or Ceol Mor, is a type of music unique to the Highland Bagpipe with its origins traced to the Scottish Highlands as far back as the 14th century. Unlike marches or dance music, piobaireachd has no beat to tap one’s foot, but rather consists of musical phrases or songs strung together much like a symphony with variations. Musical notation is unable to accurately portray the musical phrases of piobaireachd and the music has been preserved primarily through singing from teacher to student over centuries.

Piobaireachd has a unique musical structure and generally consists of distinct parts, namely, the ground followed by numerous variations. The ground consists of the song or melody of the composition and is subject to considerable musical interpretation. The major theme notes in the song of the ground are used as a basis for the variations. Each variation consists of the major theme notes of the ground with some form of embellishment. The progression from one variation to a second, third, fourth or more, demands increasingly complex embellishments.

While a good piper must be technically competent to play these embellishments throughout the variations, a great piper must be able to portray musical phrasing throughout these same variations.

Once the piper has played the ground and all the variations, they complete the performance by once again playing the ground.