OT: 18 December 1915 – J.P.M. [“The Bagpipe Scale”]



The Oban Times, 18 December, 1915

[The Bagpipe Scale]

Tain, 13 December, 1915

Sir,– The test proposed by “Feadan” in your last issue is hardly a fair one. It is true that by blowing hard enough the pitch of G can be heightened to G sharp, but “Feadan” forgets that the pitch of all the other chanter notes is also heightened, so that the relative distance between A and G natural is still the same, notwithstanding the player’ s “exuberance.”

With regard to the flexibility of G in “John Bain Mackenzie” and “Pibroch of Donald Dhu,” allow me to point out the G in these tunes is not a “mode” note, and that it has only the value of the “passing note.”

In “The Marchioness of Tullibardine” the first G in the second measure is a “passing note” and may be played on violin or piano either G or G sharp, many players preferring the latter, but all the G notes in the third part of the same measure our “mode” notes and must be played G natural.

Upper G on the chanter, in fact, does duty for two kinds of notes in “Ceol Min” and “Ceol Meadhanach,” but in “Ceol Mor” nothing of the kind occurs, so that in discussing the scale of an old instrument like the chanter, it is far better to stick to the old music, otherwise an understanding cannot be arrived at easily.–I am, etc.,

J. P. M.

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