OT: 6 February 1926 – John Grant [“Toarluath and Crunluath Movements in Piobaireachd”]



The Oban Times, 6 February, 1926

[Toarluath and Crunluath Movements in Piobaireachd]

Edinburgh, 16 January, 1926

Sir,–In Mr. Gray’s letter of 16th January he says that he finds no proof in my last letter that Angus Mackay’s noting of the above movements is correct. I say again that the correct method of performing Toarluath and Crunluath movements does not depend upon written signs. These movements were handed down to us from the chanter and preserved in this way genuinely correct. I never used Angus Mackay’s notation as an authority. What I said was that Angus Mackay happened to have, on the whole, written these movements correctly, and as they ought to be played, and as they were traditionally performed. I only used Mackay’ s name and his work so that those interested might refer to a written sign. But all the same I also state that Angus Mackay was a greater authority and did more for ancient Piobaireachd, than any man living to-day.

Angus Mackay was not the only man who wrote Toarluath and Crunluath, and I can give Mr. Gray the names of a few more who wrote it the same way–Donald MacDonald and MacPhee, of the old school. Of the modern man who wrote in like manner I can vouch for the late John MacDougall Gillies (I possess his writing of it in his own hand). Colin Cameron wrote it in the same way, and I possess his writing. The late Major-General C. G. Thomason wrote the same thing, and the late Lieutenant John MacLennan also. Then, why did these men write one thing and play another? I don’t say, nor do I believe, that they did any other than believe that they wrote it correctly.

As Mr. Gray brought in the Piobaireachd Society, certainly I had to deal with his remarks. The Piobaireachd Society’s findings convey to us no proof in this matter, and certainly the secret of performing Toarluath and Crunluath is lost to that Society. The old and correct method lived before the Society was formed. I cannot help what statements the Piobaireachd Society make, or on whose authority they make them, but if they cannot play Toarluath and Crunluath, say on the note low A as found in Mackay, McPhee, and Ross (the late Queen’s piper, I mean) then they cannot play these movements correctly.

Finally, Mr. Gray says “If Mr. Grant still wishes to confute, I would prefer that he would do so on the pipes at a place where he can be heard by all, and thus display his skill in Piobaireachd.” I am neither afraid nor ashamed to play a Piobaireachd upon the pipes before any man, but in this case, I am only called upon to play the Toarluath and Crunluath movements in the correct manner. It is, therefore, for me to choose the time, place, and method of doing so.

Instead of Mr. Gray putting forward proof of his statements or method of playing the Toarluath and Crunluath movements, he leaves the point and has brought forward no proof that his method of playing the movements in question is correct. Let him leave unnecessary points out, and we may yet agree upon one of the most important points in Piobaireachd.–I am, etc.,

John Grant

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