OT: 29 April 1911 – Fionn “Review of “The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd – 2nd Ed.”



The Oban Times, 29 April, 1911

The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd

 Mr. John Grant’s “Royal Collection of Piobaireachd” has advanced to a second edition–a practical token of public appreciation, which is not always the reward of original workers in the Celtic field. In issuing this new edition, Mr. Grant has made substantial additions to the Collection as it first appeared, and the volume now contains some twenty-one tunes all associated, in the traditional manner, with royal personages and with leading Highlanders, as the Earl of Dunmore (Lament), Lord Archibald Campbell (Salute), Major MacRae-Gilstrap of Ballimore (Salute), Captain Campbell of Killberry (Salute), Captain Colin MacRae (Salute) etc. The toarluath and crunluath of fifteen of the new tunes have been written as they are played, Mr. Grant having adopted this innovation in the interest of accuracy. In his scholarly and poetic Introduction, the composer appears as a disciple of the MacCrimmon verbal notation.

“I contend,” he writes, “that the verbal notation is as distinct a heritage as Ceòl Mòr itself; in fact, it may be compared to the true casket in which the jewels are contained, and if I may be permitted the analogy, the gems when deposited in a foreign case are in danger of losing their brilliance and of suffering loss. Let us hope that when the resuscitation of ancient piobaireachd has made some progress, the next aim of patriotic Celts may be to revive the use and practice of the verbal notation of Boreraig. It is the native system; it is musically correct; each bar is one word; it is easily written and as easily remembered; it was the notation used by the masters; the undying memory of centuries of musical tradition is intertwined with it; and by its reinstated practice there might shine on our heads once more the splendor of the golden age of Piobaireachd.”

Whether a new Piobaireachd era be established through the medium of a musical system which has fallen into disuse, attractive as its secrets are, is a doubtful problem; meantime, it is honourable to Mr. Grant, that in the modern staff notation he has produced so fine a casket of Ceòl Mor, marked by all the characteristics of that noble music of the Gael. We need not despair of the future of piobaireachd if the impulse which has created this goodly volume survives and is diligently fostered, for the publication of modern tunes not only stimulates the gift of composition, but must keep aglow the national love for the old national music. For new work of quality there ought always to be room. Mr. Grant’s Collection is dedicated to the President and members of the Piobaireachd Society, and is supported by an influential body of patrons and subscribers. The titles of the compositions, the dedication, the prefaces, and the Introduction are set out in Gaelic and English. A striking frontispiece picturesque as it appears, by Lockhart Bogle called “the Pibroch” adorns the volume.– Published by John Grant, 21 Murieston Crescent, Edinburgh. Price, 5s.

[Oban Times designation that “F” [Fionn] was the author.

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