Interpreting Authenticity, Asserting Authority: The Transmission of Piobaireachd in New Zealand
In New Zealand, the Highland bagpipe is associated with concepts of tradition, heritage and
ancestry. Piobaireachd (the ‘classical music’ and the traditional and authentic repertoire for this instrument) is a form of music central to the Scottish origins of Highland bagpiping, yet it
has also been performed in New Zealand for over 150 years. Given local history and geographic separation, the concept of ‘authenticity’ within this contemporary setting facilitated a study of
transmission and authority. Utilising the concept of ‘musicking’, and relying on interview and participant observation data, this paper explores the transmission of authenticity for piobaireachd in New Zealand. It highlights the transcultural relationship between Highland piping in New Zealand and Scotland as holding significant influence on the definition of authenticity.
This paper also calls for scholarship on Highland bagpiping (and other musics) to be contextualised in relation to perspective, time and place. It illustrates how understandings of the past (such as authenticity) are bound to social processes in the present, where temporal context and socio-political influences provide the past with contemporary meaning and value.