OT: 10 April 1948 – Donald Main “Piobaireachd Music”



The Oban Times, 10 April, 1948

Piobaireachd Music

 Wester Dalcattaig House, Glenmoriston

2 April, 1918

Sir,–That all your readers, pipers included, may fully understand Sheriff Grant’s attack on me, let me explain that I am an Orthodox Scottish musician who spent 12 years in critical analysis of the theory of Celtic Piobaireachd in an attempt to deduce the methods of construction practised by the ancient composers. The findings of my research show the music to be a well-developed art form which can only properly be practised by the educated musician.

This is contrary to the belief of the sentimentalist, traditionalist school, of whom Sheriff Grant is head dictator. Thus the propaganda war.

The issue is quite clear: Either the MacCrimmons, and their fellow-composers were rude, half-savages making a crude uncivilised and unrhythmic din such as we hear from the military school of Piobaireachd to-day–and I, therefore, in the wrong; or those ancient composers were educated musicians with a highly intellectualised technique working in the medium of a highly stylized Sonata form–which I can prove to any person who cares to enquire.

Piobaireachd is a jewel of one old culture which has fallen, through the neglect of our music scholars.

It was in urgent need of a saviour who would restore it to its old glory and reset it in its honoured place in the hearts of the Scottish people. For in the decadent period the Great Highland Bagpipe fell from its place as a highly expressive musical instrument down to the level of a percussion instrument not much higher in aesthetic value than the drum.

I am honoured to undertake the work of restoring the dignity of Celtic Piobaireachd, which as a result of my work, will soon be the common property and common joy of all our people–not merely of a small coterie like Sheriff Grant and his circle of “champion” pipers.

Finally, let me say that I think Sheriff Grant’s call to pipers to protest to the B.B.C. against my programme, whether they heard it or not, must strike a deep feeling of repugnance in the heart of every intelligent person who reads it.

I am, etc.,

Donald Main

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