OT: 19 July 1924 – H.S. Strafford “Oban Pipe Band’s Success”



The Oban Times, July 19, 1924

Oban Pipe Band’s Success

Dunoon, July 12, 1924

Sir,–The success of the Oban Pipe Band at the recent contest at Comrie is a source of gratification to those interested in piping throughout the County of Argyll. It is well-nigh twenty years since pipe band contests were introduced as a feature in Highland gatherings, since when, with the exception of the A. and S.H., no county band has figured among the prizewinners. As a matter of fact, to the best of my belief, no band in Argyllshire has competed in any of the numerous contests throughout the country.

The fact that Oban Band’s first appearance should result in their securing a first prize confirms my belief that the piping qualifications throughout the shire are second to none, could they only be brought together and trained in combination. What county should lead in the advancement of the national music if not Argyll? Recalling its history and traditions there can be no other answer.

I do not know for certain how many bands there are in the county apart from the regimental. I know of Oban, in her area, Campbelltown, Lochgoilhead, and Lochgilphead. I know also scores of young pipers in the Isles and along the coastline, who unfortunately are scattered too much to make combination easy. Can nothing be done in the way of a Piper’s Federation in the county whereby teaching can be provided and facilities for combination ensured?

This is surely a suggestion that might interest the lairds of local authorities, whoever else. When the time is ripe for a band contest confined to Argyll, suitable prizes and inducements will be forthcoming from the Cowal Gathering. –I am, etc.,

H. S. Strafford, Hon. Secretary

OT: 19 July 1924 – George G. Mackay “The Prince’s Salute”



The Oban Times, July 19, 1924

“The Prince’s Salute”

65 Harrison Road, Edinburgh. 10th July, 1924

Sir, in a previous letter I pointed out an error in this tune and outlined a simple method of beating it. That it has long evaded detection may be accounted for by the elusive and deceptive nature of the error, which takes the form of excessive notes in the Singling sections of the variations.

The correspondent signing himself “Crunluath” has inadvertently misquoted me. My contention is not that the “Princes Salute is wrong” but that it has “lost much of its attractiveness” which is rather different. There can be no doubt that it is wrong on the part referred to. It is quite a different matter in regard to the method of playing the “variations” following the “ground,” and also the proper phrasing of the “ground” itself.  These parts are certainly open to debate.

Your correspondent says he has tried the transposing of the notes in the “Toarluath ,” and that they “throw the whole tune out of gear.”  This is a somewhat startling result, as these “variations” are only the latter half of the “piece” ; it is also rather unfortunate in having precisely the opposite effect to that I had expected. Evidently I have not made myself sufficiently clear to “Crunluath” in my previous letter, and hearing that I have been equally obscure to others, I am allowing the tune to speak for itself.

Here is the first line in plain notes of the “Singling” of the “Toarluath” and also the corresponding line of the “Doubling,” the former being the part complained of as being out of order

AEDB GBGEDG AEDB  EBAFEA (Singling)
AEDB GB  GD    AEDB  EB   AE   (Doubling)

It will be seen that they do not agree, and that the superfluous notes are the third in the second and fourth bars, G in the former and A in the latter.

Here are the same lines as, in both, the composer intended them to be played

AEDB GBEDG AEDB EBFEA (Singling)
AEDB GBGD    AEDB EBAE (Doubling)

The circles denote quavers; all the others are crotchets.

It will be seen that the lines agreed perfectly and the composer has put a fine distinction between the two by a simple reversal. The one section reverts to the other quite naturally. “The Prince’s Salute,” like its beautiful confrere “The Landing in Moidart,” is a simple melody the structure of which is eight notes to each phrase, all the others being merely detail. It follows therefore that if any of the sections have nine of those notes in every phrase, it is not surprising to find part of the tune “out of gear.”

The urgency of having this absurd “[illegible]” removed from the piece may be gathered from the fact that it adversely affects, directly and indirectly, the greater portion of a long tune which will be repeatedly played to large audiences at Oban and other important Gatherings, as it is one of the three tunes selected for competition by the Piobaireachd Society, and on this account and in the interest of the music generally it is desirable that publicity be given to the matter in the “Oban Times.”

“Crunluath” refers to my statements as “mere assertions” and nothing more weighty than that, and asks my authority for making them. My reply is that even authorities (sic) must recognise facts, and the foregoing, like many other things I have discovered in piobaireachd, is fact and not fiction. –I am, etc.,

George MacKay
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