The history of the Great Highland bagpipes in Nova Scotia began in the 1750s. Scottish and Highland piping traditions continued in Nova Scotia for over 250 years, through periods of immigration, community building, Confederation, economic out-migration, and two world wars. In Gaelic communities of the mainland and Cape Breton, throughout the 19th century bagpipe music was interwoven with fiddle music, Gaelic singing, and traditional and evolving dance traditions. A unique form of dance music emerged and flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, characterized by lively jigs and rousing strathspeys, reels, and quicksteps. Many of these tunes existed in multiple regional variations before the modern standardization of piping. Many also had corresponding Gaelic words known as puirt-á-beul or mouth music, which were often used to teach and transmit pipe music within in families and communities, as well as providing enjoyment in daily life.
Volume Two of the Shears Collection presents bagpipe arrangements and their Gaelic words as they were played and sung in Nova Scotia. The bookcontains 230 settings of pipe tunes, 19 fiddle tune settings connected tothe piping tradition, and over 85 sets of port-á-beul lyrics. It is illustrated with 75 images of 19th and 20th-century Nova Scotian pipers.