The Oban Times, 6 December, 1924
Scottish Pipers’ Association, Glasgow
The annual competition took place in the Pearce Institute, Govan, on Saturday last. Sir Iain Colquhoun, D.S.O., Rossdhu, presided, and he was supported by Mr. Percy Thomson, secretary, Highland Club; ex-Bailie Arch. Campbell, Mr. McKenzie, the Hotel, Lochboisdale; Mr. McGregor Murray, Inverness; Pipe-Major J. McDougall Gillies, president, Pipers’ Association; Pipe-Major J. Mckenzie, Govan; Pipe-Major Wm. Gray, Glasgow Police Pipe Band; acts-Pipe-Major A. Hutchison, Govan Police Pipe Band; Pipe-Major Shepherd, Eddleswood Pipe Band; Pipe-Major A. McPhedran, 5th H.L.I., Glasgow; Pipe-Major D. Gray, Singers’ Pipe Band; Pipe-Major J. Swanson, 9th H.L.I., ex-Pipe-Major D. McDougall, late 8th Scottish Rifles; ex-Pipe-Major Wm. McLean, Lochiel Camerons; Mr. James McLiver, Islay Association. The competitions were followed with interest by a large audience, and there were 62 pipers with 18 drummers.
The Prize Winners
These are as follows:–
Bagpipe Playing-March, confined to boys and girls, 16 years and younger (14 competitors)–1 (R. Henderson Silver Medal), Cameron Hutcheson, Dalmuir; 2. R. McDonald, Renton; 3. R. Cowie, Glasgow; 4, Miss Fitzpatrick, Partick.
Bagpipe Playing-Strathspey and Reel, confined to boys and girls, 16 years and under (16 competitors) – 1. (Handsome Sporran, presented by J. Murray), Cameron Hutcheson; 2. A. McLeod, Glasgow; 3. R. MacDonald; 3 [sic]. R. Cowie.
Piobaireachd Playing, open to amateurs– 1 (The Farquhar McRae Trophy and gold medal), H. McTavish, Glasgow; 2, A. McLeod; 3, Jas. McNicol, Islay; 4, Wm. Barry, Glasgow.
March, confined to members, amateurs–1 (The Cameron Cup and Skean Dhu), Mat. Sloan, Glasgow; 2 (silver medal), Alex. McNeill, do.; 3. R. Davidson, do.; 4, George Grant, Barrhead.
Strathspey and Reel, confined to members, (amateurs)– 1 (The Chisholm Cup and Practising Chanter, presented by Mr. D. McRae, Argyle Street), Neil McKechnie, Govan; 2 (silver medal), H McTavish; 3, M. Sloan; 4, A. MacNeill.
March (professionals)– 1, J. McDonald, Glasgow Police Pipe Band; 2, Angus Campbell, Glasgow; 3, ex-Pipe-Major John Mckenzie, Govan; 3, [sic] Philip Melville, Glasgow Police Pipe Band; 5, Hugh Kennedy, Tiree.
Strathspey in Reel– 1, J. McDonald, Uist; 2, Angus Campbell, Glasgow; 3, R. McDonald; 4, Philip Melville; 5, ex-Pipe-Major McKenzie.
Best Dressed Highlander (open)– 1, H. McTavish; 2, Pipe-Major A. McPhedran, 5th H.L.I., Glasgow; 3, Philip Melville; 4, Angus Morrison, Glasgow Police Pipe Band.
Drumming Contest (open)– 1, R. Adams, Millhall Pipe Band; 2,Laverty, 7th H.L.I., Glasgow; 3,Moir, Glasgow Police Pipe Band; 4, White, 6th H.L.I., Glasgow; 5, Ross, McLean Pipe Band.
In the drumming contest there was a great variety of beating. The first prize winner gave an excellent exhibition.
The judges for piping were ex-Pipe-Major John McDonald, 4th Camerons, Inverness; Ex-pipe-major Wm. Ross, 4th H.L.I., Hamilton; and Pipe-Major George McDonald, Millhall Pipe Band, Stirling.
The judge for drumming was Drum-Major H. Duff, 58th Cameronians, Glasgow.
At the close of prizes were presented by Mr. McKenzie, The Hotel, Lochboisdale. The judges for piping had their work cut out for them, as the piping was very keenly contested, especially in the piobaireachd event, for which there were 17 competitors. The four prize winners were very close as regards points. In the amateur events confined to members, a high standard of playing took place, the performances being up to professional standard. The juveniles’ playing was excellent, and the first prize winner gave a very good performance. The whole programme was smoothly carried out, thanks to the hard-working committee, consisting of Messrs James McIvor, H. Lothian, J. Turner, Hugh McIntyre, P. McIntyre, J. McBride, G. McDonald. Valuable help was also rented by Pipe-Major Wm. McLean, Lochiel Camerons, Mr. Callum, the secretary, and Mr. R. Mann. The President accorded a vote of thanks to the Chairman.
The Oban Times, 29 November, 1924
Pipe Music Of The Clans
Glenetive, 20th November, 1924
Sir,–As far as I am aware, the Clan McLean is the only clan that has published the music specially connected with them. Such a collection was compiled and published by the Clan McLean Society of Glasgow in 1900. My father, the late Henry Whyte (“Fionn”), collected the martial music of various clans, with their history and traditions, and a series under the heading “The Martial Music of The Clans” appeared in the columns of the “Celtic Monthly” and afterwards in book form. In this compilation he has endeavoured to indicate the musical collections where the tunes can be found. In all, he dealt with over three hundred tunes. If your correspondent applies to the Messrs. Alex. MacLaren & Sons, 360-362 Argyle Street, Glasgow, they may be able to secure copies of both works. –I am, etc.,
The Oban Times, 29 November, 1924
The Prince’s Salute
Johannesburg, 22nd October, 1924
Sir, –Your correspondent Mr. George MacKay, began my telling us that the tune had changed, and how the Taorluadh and Doubling ought really to be played. He admitted that he had no authority for his statements except his own opinion. Notwithstanding his admission he still confidently asserts that he is right in that everybody else is wrong.
I noticed some letters a while ago complaining of other tunes being misconstrued and misunderstood. From their general tone and the fact that they were signed “Bratach Bhan Clann Aoidh,” and dated from Edinburgh, I take them to be from the same Mr. MacKay. Now, if Mr. MacKay has set out to improve Piobaireachd generally, it would be as well to examine the whole matter further to see if his views are at all worthy of consideration. He is very strong against irregularity, and is wroth at the mere suggestion of it, although there is plenty of evidence to show that it has existed for a long time. For his views to carry any weight, he must be consistent; yet I have heard him play often, and certainly in many tunes I have heard him lengthen the bar with cadences. Further, he has kindly sent me a copy of the “Prince’s Salute” as he plays it, and there is no regularity in it. In the ground there are bars of the value of 9, 9 ½ and 10 quavers respectively, besides starting notes of the value of 2 quavers to each phrase, which he says are essential. This is a sample of what he calls regular metre, I suppose. In addition, the last note, G, in the second bar, and A in the fourth bar, is a crotchet instead of a quaver. What can any musician think of this, and what weight can the views of the author of it carry?
I am misconstrued as quoting Dr. Johnstone as an authority on Piobaireachd, when I mentioned him as a witness only. I am asked to account for the virgins and published style, but do not see that it is incumbent on me to do so. If the suggestion is of any use, what about the probability of there having been other enthusiasts with a mission to improve Piobaireachd, to their own satisfaction at any rate.
Why make confusion by unwarranted alteration? Mr. MacKay thinks he has discovered something in Piobaireachd; but it seems to be the same kind of discovery that the Pickwick club made when they found the stone on which the immortal Bill Stubbs had set his mark. –I am, etc.,
Call Of Pipes
Winding slowly through the house;
humming, chanting, brawling.
Crowing shrilly, like the grouse.
Dancing, lilting, stepping so,
Leaping, laughing, bawling
As the men and lassies go.
Strangely on a mystic note,
Stilling babes a’ squalling,
With sad songs, afar remote.
Fiercely rings the slogan shouts,
On tent years a’falling
Through the din of Death and rout.
Mr. M.S. Shaw, W.S., of Auchenleishm hon. treasurer; Dr. G. L. Malcolm Smith, Mr. K. Nigel Mackenzie, Mr. C.E.W. MacPherson, C.A.; Major Ian C. Stewart (Fasnacloich). Mr. A.F. Balfour Paul, M.C.; Mr. Eaun Macdiarmid, Mr. Francis M. Caird, Captain W.F. St. Clair, Mr. W. J. Officer, Mr. F. M. Richardson, Mr. T. Evershed Thomson, Mr. C.D. Mactaggart.
The following office-bearers were elected:–
Honorary Pipe-Major–Dr. J. C. Caird.
Honorary Secretary–Mr. John Methuen.
Honorary Treasurer–Mr. MacKenzie S. Shaw.
Committee–Colonel J.D. Boswell, Dr.G.L. Malcolm Smith, Mr. Euan Macdiarmid (hon. Pipe-Corporal), Mr. K. Nigel Mackenzie, Mr. Francis M. Caird.
The Committee’s report showed the total membership of the Society, including both honorary and ordinary members to be 296. A was held in the Albyn Rooms, 77 Queen Street, Edinburgh, on 29th February–Mr. John Bartholomew, O.B.E., of Glenorchard in the chair– and proved a great success. The company hundred thirty-six including two members of the Glasgow Highland Club. Mr. W.G. Burn Murdoch proposed “The Immortal Memory of MacCrimmon.” Pipe-major W. Ross played “MacCrimmon’s Lament” and “Macgregor’s Gathering.”
The annual competition was held on 19th April at the Drill Hall, Gilmore Place, Edinburgh. The judges were–for piping, Mr. Somerled MacDonald, Mr. W.L. Calderwood, Pipe-Major Reid, Shettleston, and Pipe-Major Mackenzie, K.O.S.B. and for dancing, Major Stirling, Major F.B. Mackinlay, and Mr. J.A. Gordon.
The society gave a Silver Star and £2 at the Argyllshire Gathering. It also gave a Silver Star to the Northern Meeting. Silver Stars were sent to South Uist and Barra Highland Gathering, the Skye Gathering, and the Mull Highland Meeting.
Two silver-mounted practising chanters were competed for at the Officers’ Training Corps Camp at Stobs, from the “Longmore Fund.” The Committee also decided to present at this camp 4 kilt pins as prizes for a competition in reel dancing for school teams, and a Sgian Dubh as a prize for individual dancing of Highland Fling.
A framed photograph of Lieut.-Colonel Neill D. Campbell was presented to the Society by Major Ian C. Stewart (Fasnacloich), and has been hung in the Club Room. A photograph of Mr. Frank Adam, who has done so much for the Society in the East, has also been placed on the wall.
An ornamental paper knife, gifted to the Society by the Scottish Society of Marlborough, New Zealand, was handed into the Hon. Secretary’s office on 11th June, by a member of that Society. The New Zealand Society propose that it be given as a prize for Piobaireachd in 1924, but as the competition was over, it is proposed to have a special competition for this prize on 7th January, 1925.
5 Clive Street, Calcutta, 21st October, 1924
Sir,–I have been expecting to see some detailed argument in support of, or against, Mr. George G. MacKay’s point regarding the Taorluath of this tune, but apparently no one is prepared to write on the subject! This is to be regretted, for much good is done by open discussion of points such as this.
Having given the matter considerable study I write, not to uphold Mr. MacKay’s views, but to disagree with them! In his letter in your issue of July 19th Mr. MacKay gives a table in support of his argument, but is that table correct? Why does he show “E D G” and “F E A” when the main note of each movement is represented by the middle letter (D and E) only? Surely he does not seriously contend that the G and A in these movements can be considered as main notes anymore than a capital E and F Cadency notes are? In my opinion the Taorluath Singling is best compared to the Ground. The following are the main notes, upper line–Ground, lower line–variation:
Taorluath- A E D B. G B G D. A E D B. E B A E.
If the tune is played as suggested, recognising that the cadences should be played crisply as mere “twists” to the D and E, and not really interfering with the time, there is, in my opinion, not much to find fault with!Mr. MacKay has referred to the Ground and there are many will agree with him that revision is necessary. Taking Glen’s version as one of the best written as a basis for discussion and viewing it in the light of the Taorluath just discussed, what seems apparent? First that the opening E in the first bar, if not the E which sounds before any player breaks into his tune, should be a cadency grace note, the first A a semi-quaver and the second a dotted quaver; second, that the opening E in the second bar should also be a cadency grace note and there should be three low G’s, the first and third dotted quavers. We should then find the main notes of the melody are as above given and agree with the Taorluath, allowing for the reversal referred to above. (Corresponding bars throughout the tune would of course be similarly altered). –I am, etc.,
Sir, For the past twenty years the Highland Pipers’ Society has been foremost in providing facilities in the Scottish Capital for the cultivation of the arts of piping and dancing, and one is glad to know that it still continues its good work with unabated vigour. During the ensuing session, the meeting-place will be the C. F. Church Hall in Lothian Road, and already two very successful gatherings have been held there. Nowhere else in Scotland could an admirer of the Piob Mhor be as certain of meeting of an evening with so many notable players as well as citizens, old and young, desirous of fostering the study of pipe music at Highland dancing. Here professional players world-wide we now mingle with a crowd of enthusiastic amateurs, and it is no uncommon occurrence to witness several of the leading prize-winners of the Northern Meeting, Argyllshire, Cowal, Braemar, and other important Highland piping competitions taking part in band selections and marching, side-by-side, with youthful budding champions, who are proud to claim friendship with such “masters” and of having the opportunity of emulating their style. Following on these band performances, strathspeys, reels, sword and other Highland dances are engaged in, with much skill and purpose by a large number of the juvenile members–all neatly clad in Highland costume; and on occasions, for their special benefit, exhibitions are given by some of Scotland’s best dancers, such as Mr. J. A. Gordon and Mr. Sidney A. Black. It should be mentioned that not a few of these juveniles have taken place at the principal Gatherings in Scotland, and it is with no small pride they wear their handsome medals, which, amongst their own class, are just as much cherished as any V. C. in the Army. It is to the credit of the Society that they have been the means of bringing to the front not only young pipers, but, also so many aspiring dancers.
One of the most attractive features of the society’s meetings is the first-rate solo piping selections so I’m grudgingly rendered by its most skilled performers. At the meetings already help the session, there were present the famous Pipe-Major William Ross, Pipe-Major James Sutherland, Pipe-Major J. O. Duff, Mr. William MacLeod, Mr. A. M. Calder and Mr. Malcolm Johnston, the Hon. Secretary, and their contributions, including piobaireachd, marches, strathspeys and reels were much enjoyed. The Society’s Pipe-Major (Mr. John McDonald), the Hon. Treasurer (Mr. Peter Roberts), and the Hon. Secretary (Mr. Malcolm Johnston, 35 Bellevue Road, Edinburgh), still continue to give their best services to the Society.
Mr. Burn Murdoch and Mr. R. D. Black continue as hon. chief and chieftain respectively, and Mr. MacIntosh of Mr. H. MacDonald Shield, S. S. C., as vice-presidents. Both the latter were present at the opening meeting, which was briefly addressed by the president, Mr. Donald Shaw S.S.C., who has so successfully directed the working of the Society since it was founded. Mr. Shaw has been elected president for twenty years in succession–possibly a unique record office in any Highland organisation.–I am, etc.
Sir,–perhaps never before have we had such a keen competition among pipers at the leading Highland gatherings, including such notable events as the Gains at Oban, For William, Inverness, Portree, Aberfeldy, Pitlochry, Bridge of Allan, Braemar,Glenisla, and the famous Cowal Gathering, which the energetic secretary, Mr. H. S. Strafford, has been so popular. The piping competitions at these gatherings attract the leading pipers of the country such as Pipe-Major John MacDonald, Inverness; Pipe-Major William Ross, Edinburgh; Pipe-Major R. Reid, Glasgow; Pipe-Major Duff, Edinburgh; Piper Calder, Edinburgh; George Yardley, Cambuslang; G. S. McLennan, Aberdeen, and his brother, Pipe-Major McLennan, Fort George.
For the past thirty years Pipe-Major Ross has been a most consistent and successful competitor. It will be seen from the prize lists that he is easily ahead of the others as regards the number of prizes. Along with a friend I paid a visit to Ross in Edinburgh and we saw his large collection of stars, clasps and gold medals, and also the Cowal Shield which he won five times. During our visit Pipe-Major Ross showed as a small silver badge which he said he prized more than all the other valuable trophies. This badge was the first prize he won and he secured it at a competition in his native village of Beauly before joining the Scots Guards. Pipe-Major Ross is a very successful teacher of pipe music, and many of his pupils have won prizes. The Prince of Wales was one of his pupils.
The older school of pipers who competed in the days of John McColl and Angus McRae will be glad to learn that John Wilson of Callander has fully recovered from his recent illness and is now teaching classes in Edinburgh. Wilson was among the pipers who attended the Paris Exhibition of 1887. At his best he was prominent in the prize list.
With regard for athletics, Kenneth McRae was one of the finest all-round athletes in Scotland. Knox, the famous Canadian pole-vaulter, holds all the records for that event at Highland games in Scotland, while D. Gillespie, Islay, is a first-class putter but a second-rate hammer-thrower. –I am, etc.,