Completed in the early 1940’s, John Grant intended his autobiography “Fo gheas mi Pìoba” (Under the Spell of the Pipes) as a preamble to “A Complete Tutor for the Highland Bagpipe.” The “Tutor” exists as a two-volume bound manuscript at Houghton Library, Harvard University, (see “References“) while the manuscripts of the Music Anthology he intended to place in an Appendix to the “Tutor” and this autobiography are owned privately by one of his descendants.
The autobiography is a delightful read. It covers the period 1896-1899, from Grant’s first bagpipe lesson to his appointment as Family Piper for William Stirling-Home-Drummond-Moray of Abercairny. Take a journey into the Moray countryside, a law office in Elgin, town picnics, a New Years Eve whiskey “watching,” and get a detailed look at how legendary Pipe Major Ronald MacKenzie, Piper to Richmond and Gordon, late of the Seaforth Highlanders, conducted his private lessons. Along the way Grant quotes in “Scots” dialect, and I have provided translations and other helpful guides in the footnotes.