One of three world famous piping brothers raised in the isolated Gaelic- speaking community of Glenuig, Allan MacDonald started piping when he was nine and went on to pursue a competitive career which included winning the Inverness Clasp on two occasions. He was taught first by Pipe Major John MacKenzie, Campbeltown and then piobaireachd by Bob Nicol, Ballater and Roddy MacDonald, South Uist.
He soon, however, became ambivalent towards the competitive discipline of piping and was at the forefront of efforts to introduce alternative styles of playing light music in the 1970s and 80s. In the more classical genre of Ceol Mor, he set out to explore the extent to which modern styles of piobaireachd playing differ from those of the early 18th century.
This he did by re-uniting piobaireachd with Gaelic language rhythms in song, thereby placing the tunes in their original socio-linguistic context. His work is contained in an M.Litt thesis, completed at the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, in 1995.