The Oban Times, 16 June, 1923
Piobaireachd Classes in South Uist
After holding piping classes in Islay, Pipe-Major Ross proceeded to South Uist, where large and enthusiastic classes were held every evening from May 15th to June 8th. Pipe-Major Ross proved a most capable teacher. Accompanied by their friends the pupils assembled in Daliburgh School on the evening of June 7th and passed a most enjoyable evening in dancing and piping. Almost every man present was a piper. Mr. F. S. Mackenzie, hon. sec. of the South Uist Piobaireachd Society, presented Pipe-Major Ross, on behalf of the pipers attending his classes, with a wallet of Treasury notes, thanking him in the name of his pupils for the care and patience he had exercised in instructing them.
On June 8th a smoking concert was held in Daliburgh School, and Pipe-Major Ross was the guest of the evening. His entertainers were the members of the South Uist Piobaireachd Society, who wished to express how much they valued the honour of having the foremost piper in Scotland coming to instruct the youth of Uist. Rev. J. MacNeil, Daliburgh, occupied the chair.
Looking back, the Chairman said, to a period of about forty years ago, it appeared that piping would soon be a lost art. About that time there were three or four first-class pipers appearing at all the Highland Gatherings, but no young pipers were coming forward. Then the Piobaireachd Society was formed, and in time owing to the interests taken in piping by Mr. Simon Mackenzie, Lochboisdale; Mr. John McDonald, Askernish, and Father MacDougall, Daliburgh, the Piobaireachd Society was formed in South Uist. For a time they had been successful in securing the services of that king of pipers and instructors, Pipe-Major John MacDonald, for a few months every year, and the young pipers of Uist had just begun to make a name for themselves when the War broke out and the local Piobaireachd Society had to cease activation. The Society has been revived and owing to the kindness of the Scottish Piobaireachd Society they had been able to recommence their classes. Pipe-Major Ross had shown himself a worthy successor of Pipe-Major MacDonald as instructor in piping.
Mr. Neil MacMillan, Daliburgh, and Mr. Arch. McLennan, Lochboisdale, seconded the remarks of the Chairman.
Pipe-Major Ross replied, thanking the Chairman for his kind words. He said that he felt it easy to work in such a piping “atmosphere” and with that conviction that he was among friends.
The evening passed with selections on the bagpipes and reminiscences of old pipers and bygone contests with many a hint to young pipers interspersed. Too soon they had to say good-bye for Pipe-Major Ross was leaving Lochboisdale by steamer at midnight. The pleasure of having met Pipe-Major Ross is one which none of those present will ever forget.
The Oban Times, 9 June, 1923
The Desperate Battle
Points in Pibroch
Drumfearn, Isle of Skye, 30th May, 1923
Sit–In the rough mimic chant of the pipers, the ground [ed. first line only] of “The Desperate Battle” may be put thus:–
Hayi heehee hayi hiri hayi hay/hah brah
Hayi heehee hayi hiri hayi hay ho bro
Hayi heehee hayi hiri hayi hay hun drun
Hayi heehee hayi hiri hayi hay hun drun
The strange point is the identity of the third and fourth lines–or the repetition of the third line; and I think it is not only strange but unique. The first line ends in C, the second in B, and the third (and fourth) in A. The first three alone satisfy the ear as a complete unit; and the fourth looks like the meditative repetition by the piper of the previous line, mistaken by the noter for a part of the piece. The balance could also be restored by making the third line the same as the first (at least as far as the final note is concerned, this note, of course, being the critical one); but the rest of the tune points to the theory of mistaken repetition, as every variation is put into three phrases:–
Hahee trahee [sic] ho-ee ho-ee
Hahee hayee hahee hahee
Ho-ee hayee hahee ho-ee
Another puzzling point is the relation between the variations in the ground of “The Fingerlock.” In the second and third parts of the ground there is a most persistent run of the note E–eight bars in which E is the dominant note while in the variations (except one which is more or less of a freak) its place is taken by D–a dull note compared with the E. Is there an explanation?–
I am, etc.,