Two types of music are generally played on the piob mhor. The newer, more common type is the marching or dance music often played by pipe bands. This is known as light music,(or Ceol Beag) and consists primarily of Marches, Strathspeys, Reels, Hornpipes, Jigs and Airs. This was originally developed for the military. The older, less common type is the Piobaireachd, (Ceol Mhor) often known as the classical music of the pipes, which is much more tonal and less rhythmical. This is normally played solo and because of its haunting, evocative nature often takes the form of laments.
Historically each Scottish clan had its own piper to provide entertainment in times of peace and encouragment in battle. When the British army organized Scottish regiments they included pipers. Bagpipes were used in combat at least until the Second World War. Military pipe bands are now a popular part of many countries' armies.