OT: 9 October 1915 – Simon Fraser



The Oban Times, 9 October, 1915

No. 6 Verner Street, South Geelong, Australia, 2 August, 1915

Sir,–I had just received the issue of your valuable paper containing Mr. Grant’s reply to my last letter, and by the same mail a letter from Mr. Duncan MacDonald, Bordland House, Dunlop, Ayrshire, Scotland, who says:

“I believe in my heart you are perfectly right in your argument against Mr. Grant. I will remember about 52 years ago of knowing an old man named Alexander Macaskill, who was for man in Captain Neil MacLeod’s employment, and I often heard him say repeatedly that Gesto could play both the bagpipes and violin, and that he often heard him play them, and he used to teach a number of others to play them.”

This is further proof that Gesto being a piper.

I also saw in your valuable paper a very able letter from Mr. Bruce, saying there is plenty of evidence that Gesto could play and teach the pipes.

I will now pass over all reference to myself and my feelings by Mr. Grant, and keep to the main points in this controversy, which are these: Could Gesto play the pipes? Could he teach others to play them? And are the beats in Gesto’s published book of 1828 genuine MacCrimmon Notation? Mr. Grant says they are not MacCrimmon Notation, also that Gesto could neither teach play the pipes.

I pointed out in my last letter, I think, that Mr. Grant is the only person who seems to believe so. All others that I have seen or spoken to on the subject differ from Mr. Grant. All the evidence that Mr. Grant has is from a letter written to “Fionn” by Alasdair Ruadh.

I would point out that Mr. Grant is not very consistent as to the whole of this letter. He is greatly taken up with the statement–”But did not play himself,” but does not take too kindly to the following one, viz.–” He knew, I believe, almost every piobaireachd in existence–their names, their composers, their origin and the causes for composing them.” When he gets to the statement Mr. Grant is very skeptical–”He had a large manuscript collection of MacCrimmon piobaireachds, as noted by themselves,” etc.

In a letter to “The Oban Times” 20th May, 1912, Mr. Grant writes–

“Dr. Bannatyne says Captain MacLeod had a collection of 200 tunes. This has often been written, but never proved; all that we can say with safety, from what we have seen, is that he had 21, and to say that some of the 200 were written by Patrick is sheer nonsense,” etc.

In conclusion, I have much pleasure in informing Mr. Grant that this valuable manuscript book of genuine MacCrimmon music is still in existence, and it may be forwarded on to Dr. Bannatyne very soon for his perusal, as I am fully convinced that he is the best and most reliable authority on the MacCrimmon Notation in Scotland.–I am, etc.,

Simon Fraser

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