PS 177 – Black Donald’s March

      Fàilte Loch Iall

      Pìobaireachd Dhòmhnaill Duibh

Primary Sources

Pioberachd Mhic Dhonuil O.12:14 (Vol.II, p.152)
J [Black Donald’s March: first 2 bars] Triple Time Slow J:17v.8
Joseph MacDonald’s treatise (c. 1760), folio 17v

AC Pioberach Dhomnuill Duibh, or Cameron’s Gathering AC.1
D1 Piobaireachd Dhomhnuill / Duibh Black Donald Balloch of the Isles March D1.22: 106
K1 Piobaireachd Dhomhnuill Dhuibh / Black Donald Balloch of the Isles’s March… K1.82: 192
SC Failt Loch ial SC.16
Angus MacKay, ‘Specimens of Canntareachd’ (c. 1854), no. 16

Notes on Gaelic Titles

Cruinneachadh Mhic Dhòmhnaill Duibh Cruinnach Mhic Dhonailduibh / Cameron of Locheil’s Gathering 1804; Camerons Gathering C2; The Cameron’s Gathering AC. Clan Cameron’s Gathering. This name is attached to two tunes: the current one and PS 162.

Fàilte Loch Iall Locheil’s March 1786; Failt Loch ial SC. Lochiel’s Salute. This was a Cameron name for the tune which was also claimed for Clan Donald. The version in AC is a transcription made by Alexander Campbell from a canntaireachd manuscript of Niel Macleod of Gesto. From it Campbell derived the setting which he published in Albyn’s Anthology entitled Pibroch of Donuil Dubh, with words by Walter Scott (A. Campbell, Albyn’s anthology; or, a select collection of the melodies and vocal poetry peculiar to Scotland and the Isles… Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 2 vols [1816-18], vol. i, pp. 82-89). Campbell also recorded for the first time the well known verse, Pioberach Dhomnall… Piob agus braddach air faich Inbhir-lochi. The 6/8 quickstep march, a ceòl beag form of the tune, is titled ‘Lochiel’s March’, variously spelled, in several sources. See F. Buisman, ‘Transformations of piobaireachd in 18th-century Music Collections’, edited by R. D. Cannon, to be published (n.d.). Mac Dhòmhnaill Duibh was the patronymic of Cameron of Lochiel, and the faiche at Inverlochy (cf Faicheachd Chlann Dòmhnaill, PS 227) was the traditional assembly ground of the Camerons. The name ‘Camerons Gathering’ was attached to another tune by Colin Campbell: PS 162.

Pìobaireachd (Mhic) Dhòmhnaill Duibh Pioberachd Mhic Dhonuil O; Piebroch Connel S; Pibroch gonnel S; Piobrachd Mhic Dhonail Dhuibh / Cameron’s Gathering 1785; Piobrachd Mhic Dhonail Dhuibh / Locheil’s March 1786; Cruinnach Mhic Dhonailduibh / Cameron of Locheil’s Gathering 1804; Pioberach Dhomnuill Duibh / Cameron’s Gathering AC; Pibroch of Donuil Dubh Albyn’s Anthology (vol. i, 1816, p. 90); Piobaireachd Dhomhnuill Duibh / Black Donald Balloch of the Isles March (and not Lochiel’s) to the first battle of Inverlochy 1427 D1; Piobaireachd Dhomhnuill Dhuibh / Black Donald Balloch of the Isles’s March… K1. Pibroch of (the son of) Donald Dubh. Conventionally Black Donald’s March, but evidently referring to Lochiel, the Cameron chief, whose patronymic was Mac Dhòmhnaill Duibh. Alan son of Donald Dubh, Captain of Clan Cameron, was appointed constable of Strome Castle and the lands of Kishorn in 1472 (K. Sanger, ‘Who was Black Donald?’ <>, 2017). The first three citations above are from violin arrangements of the pibroch – see F. Buisman (n.d.) – the fourth from the piano arrangement made by Alexander Campbell from MacLeod of Gesto’s canntaireachd version. Walter Scott changed Dubh to Dhu in the title of his poem (A. Campbell, ibid., vol i, 1816, p. 90). The pibroch is now always named ‘Black Donald’s March’, while the corresponding melody in quickstep form is named ‘Pibroch of Donald Dhu’ in various spellings, except when called ‘Lochiel’s March’ or equivalent. Its identification with the Camerons and Locheil cannot be applied to a specific period. It might be as old as the second Battle of Inverlochy (at which the Camerons were present) in 1645, but the evidence weighs heavily against this tune having anything to do with ‘Donald Balloch’, who fought at the first Battle of Inverlochy in 1431 but was  never referred to as ‘Donald Dubh’ (K. Sanger, ibid.). The words in parentheses – ‘(and not Lochiel’s)’ – are scratched out in almost all copies of D1, and omitted in editions from 1822 onward (R.D. Cannon and K. Sanger, Donald MacDonald’s collection of piobaireachd. Volume 1 (1820), The Piobaireachd Society [2006], p. 132).

Roderick Cannon (2009), rev. Barnaby Brown 2020

Archive Recordings

1950 Mary Morrison: song
1953 Alasdair Boyd: song
1953 Duncan Lamont: Highland bagpipe
1956 Mary Morrison: song
1960 Donald MacIntyre: song
1981 George Moss: practice chanter & discussion
1984 Unknown: Highland bagpipe

Other Material

2012 William Donaldson: Set Tunes Notes

2 thoughts on “PS 177 – Black Donald’s March”

  1. i’m new at this game of looking back at early sources, but i find they are difficult to use for guidance on how to play the tunes, and Black Donald’s March is a good example of that difficulty. some of the early sources don’t have embellishments. and they are in 6/8.
    John Burgess’s version on youtube is definitely not in 6/8 (at least to my ear), so how did he come up with his version.

  2. John MacDonald 1961 Nan MacKinnon 1958 Mary Lamont (Mrs Neil Lamont) 1958 Alasdair Boyd 1965

    How do we deal with the versions that are generally said to be “ceol beag”? If they are the same tunes, and have some vestigial set of variations? Some of them have become clearly a jig or tune with no trace of “cycle and motion”, but others seem to have partial or degraded versions of the cycles and motions presented by the full versions.

    I think we should include and investigate these variants, and not be blinkered into only seeing the “full on” pipe settings.

    e.g Anon fiddle, 1955

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