OT: 28 December 1929 – Piper’s Grip “Joseph MacDonald and Pibroch Notation – The ‘GDG’ Grip”



The Oban Times, 28 December, 1929

Joseph MacDonald and Pibroch Notation

The “GDG” Grip

28 November, 1929

Sir,–Referring to my letter on the above subject (which you were good enough to publish in two parts in your issues of 26th October and 2nd November) it may not be out of place to add to the details embodied in these articles.

Further evidence that the word “Iuludh” is not confined to represent only the closed Taobhludh beat (thus, perhaps, confirming the suggestion that the word is possibly a misprint), will be found on pages 31 and 33 of the “Theory.” Dealing with page 33 first, we find, in the middle of the page, reference to the 11th Table. This reference is to the effect that–

The three dividing notes must be cut so (that is in a swift manner) as that the least distinction of time betwixt the two notes (i.e. the two “big” notes) cannot be perceived. He also says–. . . The dividing notes must be cut with the most imperceptible quickness, which is not attended with any great difficulty as in effect, it is but one finger casting off another.

Now, in effect this is exactly what the GDG grip is, as it is performed by the movement of two fingers, one movement each, that is, the D cuts the low G into halves after that finger has been put down. This seems to explain his method in usually writing GD only; he means the use of these two fingers to indicate the full grip.

To turn now to page 31, we find that in the lower part of the page he points out that the pipe reel cuttings are often only a portion of certain full cuttings used in Pibroch. He gives examples of these “fractional cuttings.” On the top staff of his illustration are “the shakes as they appear when cut,” showing, in each case, the middle note. The lower line “contains them at large,” and they are parts of “Iuludh” as he makes clear. The first bar of the lower line consists of two A’s separated by-gd-, the second two B’s separated by-gd-, the third two C’s separated by -gdg-, the full grip! (The other beats are different “cuttings.”). Now this would seem to suggest, firstly, that the word “Iuludh” does not refer solely to the closed Taobhludh beat, and might, indeed, be equally applicable to a Mach beat, and, secondly, that the GDG grip is intended in the Iuludh beats on A and B as well as on C, as illustrated.

A further example of the omission of the second G in the writing of the grip is found in the 4th Table itself, the 4th example, the throw to D (from C). On page 7, explaining this movement, he says (the interpolations in brackets are the writer’s, to make the fingering clear to non-players).

The two middle fingers (of the lower hand, as C is being sounded) cast off the fore finger (thus bringing us to–CGD–: then it returns the same way) thus bringing us to–CGDG–; and casts off the two middle fingers (thus bringing us to–CGECG–; after which the forefinger rises and completes the Cutting.

This brings us to CgdgeD. In the table itself he shows only CgdeD, but his words clearly indicate that the second G is intended though omitted in this that illustration. The forefinger would not rise (by itself) and “return the same way” if two G’s were not played! And yet some people refer to the D throw with the grip as the new way of playing it!–I am, etc.,

Piper’s Grip

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