OT: 27 February 1926 – John Grant “Toarluath and Crunluath Movements”



The Oban Times, 27 February, 1926

Toarluath and Crunluath Movements

Edinburgh, 20 February, 1926

Sir,–In reply to Mr. Geo. S. MacLennan’s letter which appeared in to-day’s issue of the “Oban Times,” I have much pleasure in stating for his benefit that I was very well acquainted with his father, the late Lieut. John MacClellan, Edinburgh. He supped in my house on more than one occasion, and he returned the compliment more than once. He was a genial Highlander and a lover of piobaireachd. He told me with his own lips that he received piobaireachd from the same sources I and many others did, in the same form, with three melody A’s in the Toarluath on low A, and two melody A’s in the Crunluath on the A. These notes I take as examples. I have played Toarluath and Crunluath before him on more than one occasion, as I was taught, and he never said that it was wrongly played. On all the occasions that I met him, I never heard him play a note upon the pipes of the chanter.

On the Toarluath and Crunluath movements, we did not agree, because when he was preparing his book, “Piobaireachd As MacCrimmon Played It,” he cut out an A in the Toarluath and Crunluath, an act for which he could give no authority. Admitting then that Lieut. MacLennan was the first who wrote Toarluath and Crunluath cutting out an A in each, can his son give any authority other than individual taste for such an act? I understood from Lieut. MacLennan that up till about twenty or thirty years ago, he wrote Toarluath and Crunluath in his own MSS. in the same manner as Angus Mackay, who was a piobaireachd scholar and player, and whose work will keep his name and memory evergreen in pipers’ hearts. I had controversies in the “Oban Times” with Lieut. MacLennan, but whatever was written on either side was taken in good part by us both, and we were friends till the last.

I would refer Mr. Geo. S MacLennan to his father’s work, entitled “Piobaireachd as MacCrimmon Played It,” and there you will find the Crunluath written no less than fourteen times in exactly the same way as I write it. This his father intended to be played. If I am wrong in my assertions about the Crunluath, can Mr. G. S. MacLennan give an explanation for his father’s writing of this Crunluath. On pages 1, 3, 6 and 8 he will find the Crunluath written traditionally twice, twice, eight times and twice respectively on these pages. In all these instances Lieut. MacLennan gave the Crunluath movement in what is traditionally known as Crunluath a Mach; but let me state that there is no mach on low A. Nevertheless, we still require Mr. G. S. MacLennan’s explanation regarding these movements in question.

In the close of Mr. G. S. MacLennan’s letter, he says that the method of writing Toarluath and Crunluath as used by the Piobaireachd Society, etc., etc., is “more solid and much better piping then when played with the redundant low A.” Then, I take it that he agrees that the Toarluath and Crunluath, as written by Angus Mackay, can be played, but that he prefers to play these movements, making an ugly heavy G to cut out a beautiful low A. Individual taste is not sufficient authority for ruthlessly cutting out the A’s from the Toarluath and Crunluath movements.–I am, etc.,

John Grant

© Copyright Pipe Major John Grant - Designed for Dr. Alan Armstrong