This award is given to the pipe band in each category by the Pipers Society of Ontario for accumulating the most points at five designated Highland games over the summer season. Because of the size and prestigiousness of the competition at the Glengarry Highland Games, more points are awarded here than at other games.
All competitors must register with the Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario, where a 2018 Master Entry Form may be downloaded. Competitions include marches, strathspeys, reels, piobaireachd, jigs and hornpipes.
On Friday, Aug. 3, all amateur, grades 1 to 5, solo pipers and drummers (except bass & tenor) compete as will the Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal and Bar (Canada). On Saturday, Aug. 4, all professional solo pipers and drummers will compete as well as all tenor and bass drum contests.
Piob (Peeb) means Pipe; Piobaire (Peebair) means Piper; and Piobaireachd (Peeb-air-och - three syllables) means pipe/playing pipe music. Many people "simplify" the pronunciation by saying "Peebrock", probably from the spelling "Pibroch" which is seen in some Light music and songs. Though more accurately titled Ceol Mor (Cowal More) meaning Big (or Great) Music, the classical music of the Great Highland Bagpipe is commonly referred to as Piobaireachd. This is the music that summoned the clans to battle, celebrated victory and loss, commemorated murder and lamented the deaths of their heroes. In peaceful times, they played drinking tunes and piobaireachd of love.
The tunes consist of an opening slow theme called a 'Ground' (Gaelic Urlar). This is followed by several variations in melody and/or rhythm based upon the main theme notes, each with progressively more complex combinations of gracenotes (a gracenote is produced by opening and closing a hole with a finger very quickly on the chanter). Most tunes are of least 8 minutes in length and can last up to 15 to 20 minutes. The great masters of Piobaireachd were the MacCrimmon and MacArthur families of the Isle of Skye, and to these colleges, the clan chiefs sent their best pipers to perfect their art of piping.
Until 1982, winners of this Open Piobaireachd event for two or more times, were awarded Clasps in lieu of being granted additional Gold Medals. In 1982, with the approval of the Piobaireachd Society, a separate piobaireachd contest was established for those who had already earned the Gold Medal. The winner of this Gold Medallist Competition was then awarded a Gold Bar to the Medal. The first winner was P/M William Livingstone, Whitby, Ontario. Anyone who is awarded the Gold Medal is eligible to compete in the Gold Medallist Competition.