Books Every Piper Should Own and Study

The Book of the Bagpipe
by Hugh Cheape
ISBN:  10: 0809296802
The Book of the Bagpipe at Amazon

This is a beautiful little book that I find to be a leader in the history of bagpipes.  Mr. Cheape is the chief curator of The Museum Of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland.  Drawing upon his many resources, and with support from Roderick D. Cannon (author of The Highland Bagpipe and Its Music), The Book Of The Bagpipe follows the path of pipes starting in the mid-east some 4500-5000 years ago, lastly reaching Scotland in antiquity.  This book can be pleasingly read in a few hours and is packed with information and images.  I have previously owned two copies — I loaned these to other pipers and they did not get returned.  I like to think that it is because this is a great of a book.  Suffice to say, the third copy I have purchased is not leaving my home in any hands other than my own.

The Complete Pipers Handbook
by P/M Brett Tidswell
The Complete Pipers Handbook at

There are numerous books on the market teaching bagpipe maintenance, reed set-up, and tuning (etc) — and for me this is the Go To book on the matter.  The writing is insightful and efficient.  Personally my piping focuses on being musically creative whereas The Complete Pipers Handbook has writing that clearly orients it toward competitors, however the information of course remains applicable to both types of players.  It is also my feeling that this book was over-priced when I purchased my copy, and yet I feel that this book is invaluable — the tips, troubleshooting insight, and techniques for instrument operation — there is no end to the usefulness of this book.

The Highland Bagpipe and Its Music
by Roderick D. Cannon
ISBN:  10: 0859765490
The Highland Bagpipe and Its Music at Amazon

This is the new, updated edition of the classic “The Highland Bagpipe and Its Music”.  It is a definitive and critically acclaimed book giving the origins of Scottish bagpipes and piping history.  Mr. Cannon covers Ceol Mor, Ceol Beag, Piobaireachd, dance and martial music, music for competitions and music for pleasure, music for pipe bands, and also gives commentary on the state of today’s piping.  This is a foundational book and stands as the only comprehensive history of piping in print and has never been surpassed.

The Piper’s Primer
by Russ Spaulding
The Piper’s Primer at Amazon

So here is the most odd recommendation I can make out of any of these books …

I have not used this book.  I have been told by other piper friends who also instruct piping highly recommend this book.  Well, good enough for me!  I am also unclear if Mr. Spaulding’s book is still in print, but from what I’m told it would be well worth trying to get your piping-hands on a copy if you are a new player.

Rhythmic Fingerwork
by James McGillivray
Rhythmic Fingerwork at Amazon

This book is so important to piping, myself and other players/instructors nickname it “The Bible“.  The playing technique suggested through this book can help to fix every mistake, error, or bad habit that can come out of our fingers.  One word of caution — Do Not Get This As A ‘Teach Yourself Bagpipes’ Book — it is not that.  These techniques should be worked on with an instructor who understands them, teaches them, and uses them themselves.