OT: 19 October 1912 – John Grant – “The Piobaireachd Society’s Music”



The Oban Times, 19 October, 1912

The Piobaireachd Society’s Music

42 Elmfield Avenue, Aberdeen, 9 October, 1912

Sir,–Your correspondent, Mr. John MacLennan, says that the Piobaireachd Society is a strong, influential, and intellectual body of men, and I agree with him in this respect. Mr. MacLennan also says that the Piobaireachd Society would crush him in a moment, if there was any opportunity to do so. Sir, there is no need to do so, but now we arrive at the climax of our controversy. Mr. MacLennan would crush me in a moment and tear my statements to shreds, as he boasted of doing–if he was capable of carrying this out. Mr. MacLennan is putting the evil day off, and resting on his oars.

Your correspondent has departed altogether from the subject of our controversy, and made an attack upon me which will not add success to his tactics in the eyes of your readers. I have not been writing about myself or my book of piobaireachd, nor have I been writing about Mr. MacLennan, but his remarks in your last issue lead me to say that it is not Mr. MacLennan’s place to judge the capacity of my abilities or capabilities. If Mr. MacLennan is prepared to undergo a proper test, so am I. If a test was carried out under proper lines, then we will find men who will be able to judge both our merits; but it is beneath my dignity to judge myself, as Mr. MacLennan judges himself in your last issue.

Mr. MacLennan says that “The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd” cannot be called piobaireachd. This is very strange, especially in view of the fact that when Mr. MacLennan acknowledged receipt of my book he then said it was piobaireachd. Your correspondent speaks of going through a school of music. It will be remembered that a short time ago Mr. MacLennan published a book entitled “The Piobaireachd As MacCrimmon Played It,” and dictated strange rules to the piping world. In that book he attempted to lay down laws not known in piobaireachd. But this same book serves another valuable purpose, i.e., it is the means of measuring Mr. MacLennan’s meagre knowledge of the art which he professes to know so much about. From the title of Mr. MacLennan’s book, he intends it to be piobaireachd, but when we open it, alas! We see the massacred fragments of what was once “Ceol Mor.” On further examination we ask ourselves is “Martyrdom” a piobaireachd? Is “Lord Lovat’s Slow March” a piobaireachd? Is the “Abercairny Highlanders” a piobaireachd? Is “Blair Drummond’s Strathspey” a piobaireachd? Is the “Cameronian Rant Reel” a piobaireachd? When Mr. MacLennan goes through the school of music again, and learns the difference between “Ceol Mor” and “Ceol Aotrom,” then I will listen to his logic.

Mr. MacLennan concludes his letter in your last issue indicating the motto “Never do to-day what you can put off till to-morrow,” for a good reason. In conclusion, I can assure your readers that the Piobaireachd Society have never asked my help, or the assistance of anyone else, to uphold their book. On my part it is purely spontaneous. On the other hand, they have never asked Mr. MacLennan’s opinion on their work. Thus the readers of “The Oban Times” will be anxious to know why Mr. MacLennan is the only man who finds fault with the Piobaireachd Society’s book, and cannot prove the statements.–I am, etc.,

John Grant

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