OT: 20 February 1915 – John Grant “The MacCrimmon Sol-Fa, or Canntaireachd”



The Oban Times, 20 February, 1915

The MacCrimmon Sol-Fa, or Canntaireachd

Edinburgh, 15 February, 1915

Sir,–I observed a letter in a recent issue from Mr. Fraser, Australia. It is quite obvious to all intelligent pipers in Scotland that Mr. Fraser is carrying on this correspondence under many difficulties. His predominant note is obstinate persistence, which proves him out and out to be theoretically unacquainted with piobaireachd in any shape or form.

He has given in his last letter a few syllables from the Gesto pamphlet, simply copied, which anyone can do. The syllables convey nothing to anyone. I have also received a letter from Mr. Fraser privately, in which he accuses me of many things, and says that I have received my “quietus respecting the immortal Gesto.” Mr. Fraser has himself received his quietus a full score times, both in respect of Gesto and Canntaireachd also, but apparently he cannot see it.

I will tell Mr. Fraser once more in plain English that Gesto never was a piper, and he was quite incapable of writing down piobaireachd in the MacCrimmon sol-fa notation. No one need trying to bluff people that Gesto is anything more than a man who wrote down matter of which he was entirely ignorant. Any man who says that Gesto played the pipes is a stranger to the truth.

Of all Mr. Fraser’s boasts of what he knows of piobaireachd, he has given the piping world no practical proof of his knowledge in the art. The only thing that I can gather from his correspondence is that he would like to be the sun, moon and stars in piping and piobaireachd!

In conclusion, Mr. Fraser, my candid and friendly advice to you is to put your preaching into practice. Show us some of your knowledge in black and white. The young piping world wants knowledge; if you possess it give it to them. Publish your work, which will decide your knowledge, and we will pay for our copy of it. We do not seek information for nothing. You have still to prove your ability in piobaireachd and its sol-fa notation canntaireachd. We are waiting patiently for your promised publication, and failing that, send the editor of “The Oban Times” the “Bells of Perth” in staff notation, in syllable and sol-fa, note against note. Then we in ancient Caledonia will award the true merit and her ability. –I am, etc.

John Grant

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