OT: 3 August 1929 – Somerled MacDonald “Joseph MacDonald and Pibroch Notation”



The Oban Times, 3 August, 1929

Joseph MacDonald and Pibroch Notation

Inverness, 24 July, 1929

Sir,–Here is roughly the system of notation in Pibroch as given to me by Alexander MacLennan, Inverness, about forty-five years ago.

In the ground and at the end of doublings of “Siubhal” and “Tripling” he played the heavy “Taorludh” (“Riludh.”) The ordinary “Taorludh” was played in the runnings as “Iuludh.” “Taorludh fosgailt” (such as appears in the variations of “Mary’s Praise”) was a cutting beat. “Taorludh-a-mach” was a striking beat having the same notes as “Riludh,” but played in different time–conforming to the principle of “Crunludh-a-mach” (the Bruces called these beats “Bualadh-a-mach.”) This was a simplified version of Joseph’s.

I am perhaps not strictly correct in saying that we have discarded the actual notes which make up the lower hand on “Crunludh-a-mach,” but we have discarded that principle of forming the notes in the ground. For example:–everyone forms that very common group of notes in the ground off the B thus:–G. B. G. D. G. B., and these are the notes which make up the lower hand of “Crunludh a mach” on B., and this is a striking beat. But we form our “Taorludh” (fosgailt) from these notes in the ground (of say “War or Peace,”) not by adding and E grace note and another B, but by inserting and E grace note before the last B–and that is the principle upon which we form our “Taorludh-a-mach.” Therefore if we formed our “Crunludh-a-mach” on that principle it would read, G. B. G. D. G. E. B. F. B. E., which would not sound very well.

But some, although they have discarded the extra A (in the ground) on the A beat, have not continued that principle in the rest of the Scale–others again are quite consistent on the Scale, except on D, while some have not discarded the strike at all in the ground and have in the “Taorludh-a-mach.” It is very perplexing.

The late Lieut. McLennan said the “Crunludh-a-mach” should be treated as a freak, and that the be on D in “Taorludh-a-mach” should be a cutting beat.

If that were done then I say the system would be consistent. But surely we must admit the possibility of to schools having been in existence, as far as notation goes.–I am, etc.,

Somerled MacDonald

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