The Oban Times, 3 September, 1927
“A Complete Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe”
It is interesting to find the beat he calls “Riludh” or “Iuludh” (Toarluath) contains the middle note regarding which there has been much controversy of recent years. He describes that beat as follows (the words in brackets being added by the writer of this review, to save the reader the necessity of fingering out the beat on the chanter)–
Riludh–consists of a number of Notes, beginning with opening the 1st and 7th fingers (the G cut to the A); then stop the 7th open the 4th, and, after again stopping it (the GDG grip), open the 7th and keep it so (thus sounding the disputed A) till you open the 3rd then stop it (the E cut to the A) still keeping the 7th open till you begin again.
This should surely settle the matter once and for all and it is to be hoped the piping Societies will face the position cheerfully and encourage their members to get ahead with serious work and not waste time disputing an obvious fact!
His “9th cutting” (a mach beat, followed by another note) is another case where his description does not entirely agree [with] his illustrated “holes,” but it is clear his intention is the full GDG grip (some beats clearly show the three note grip). In this case also, it is interesting to find the mach beat contains the middle note.
Dochan an Ludan.
Dochan an Ludan is the run-down from C etc. to low A through B, with a little finger and it is interesting to find the first note of such beats is the accented one, as was pointed out in a recent publication on piobaireachd, and not the A, as is commonly written to-day. “Barludh” is the beat from say a low A to high G with the grip EAFA and some of the fancy “cuttings” of the Crunluath Breabach nature (to use today’s terms) finish with “Barludh.” “Ludh an Chrodh” is the doubling of the D. In his “10th cutting” (Siubhal from A and G upwards) is cutting grace notes are E and D except where the previous themal note is E when the G cut is employed. To-day these cuts are G and D and not E and D! In the “Ludh Sleamhain 2d species,” it is interesting to find that cuts to the pair of E’s are G and F against the practice to-day of using two G cuts. There are many other interesting points which are best brought out by careful study of the work itself.
After dealing with the method of fingering the various beats and giving exercises upon them the author proceeds to the other sections of his work already referred to.
Statements are often made now-a-days, even by people of education, that piobaireachd is irregular in metre, and not governed by any of the natural laws of music. These ideas are largely responsible for the absence of rhythmic phrasing so common two-day, even with our best players, for there are really but very few who can be called good piobaireachd players, in spite of popular belief to the contrary. Even the Piobaireachd Society judges seem more disposed to award prizes to those whose mechanical execution, (fingering) is good, apart entirely as to whether or not their rhythmic phrasing is good, bad or indifferent. It is perhaps a fortunate thing for the future of piobaireachd that Joseph MacDonald’s work make it clear that the music is “regular.” It is not inappropriate to quote from his work. He says:–
The first Composers of Pipe Music having never heard of any other instrument or known any of the Rules ever invented of Music, except what was suggested to them by Nature and Genius; and here it may not be improper to discover the general Rule by which the original Composers of the Pipe Music, guided chiefly by the ear, taught and regulated the time, knowing nothing of Common or Triple Time, Crotchet or Quaver. This Rule may, with some propriety, be called The Rule of Thumb for it was by the four fingers of the left hand that all their time was measured and regulated, e.g., an Adagio in Common Time of such a style must not exceed, or fall short of, such a number of Fingers, otherwise it was not regular.
If the March was to be but a short Composition, the ground must be of so many Fingers, for Bars they had not heard of; if a gathering, commonly of such a number. If a Lament, if a March, etc., according to the occasion, it must consist of such a number; they were sure to have no odd number in any piece they designed to be regular. Their Adagio’s, when regular, commonly consisted of four Quarters. In each Quarter there were such a number of Fingers which we count as a Bar 2, 4, or 8, as the Quarters were long or short; or the Bar was subdivided into more Fingers according to their length, and thus the Adagio’s and Grounds counted upon their 4 fingers, and measured by their Ear, and when the Finger and Ear corresponded all was well.
The ordinary length of a Pipe Adagio being 16 Fingers, computed about 16 Bars, 4 in each Quarter. The regularity preserved only by the help of this Rule, in all their Compositions, is very surprising.
It could not in the least be wondered at though there should be little excressencies and deficiencies in the Time, by this method of Composition; but very few are to be found.
His closing remark and his expressions “they designed to be regular” and “when regular” may be clung to by some of the stubborn ones, in support of their views, but there can be no doubt the few cases where “little excressencies and deficiencies” exist are not the work in any of the great Masters, and in any case irregularities such as three or four bars missing or three or four bars too many are not met. Such gross irregularities can be done only to mutilation since a tune was first composed, possibly players getting on wrong notes and not being able to complete their “finger” musically without additional bars, or the converse–getting on a wrong note and having to finished a “finger” before the proper time. His expressions “they designed to be regular” and “when regular” cannot be read, it is considered, to indicate that the old composers on occasions deliberately designed irregular compositions. They were too great natural musicians to go against the natural law of music.
The work is therefore a very strong refutation of the crude ideas existing in some quarters. To argue that because the old composers knew nothing of bars and modern staff notation (which, after all, is only a scientific method of recording a time) their music was not regular in metre and rhythm is to give little credit to the musical genius of such a master as Patrick Mor MacCrimmon. Indeed, such views are an insult to his memory. Once and for all let such ideas be cast aside and let us look for metre and rhythm in all tunes put forward for competition and for rhythm and phrasing in the playing of them, mere fingering not being deemed one of the principal points in piobaireachd playing.
Mr. Alex.MacDonald, Inverness.
Mr. Alex.MacDonald, Inverness, is very greatly to be commended for his courage in reprinting this valuable work, for such efforts are not usually remunerative, and he should receive support from far and wide, from all interested in our national music. Indeed it is the bounded duty of all interested in the music to support such efforts and thus enrich our knowledge of the ancient art and encourage its investigation. The publication of this work comes at a time when much interest is being taken in piobaireachd matters and it is sincerely to be hopes its lessons will not be lost and that a wider view of points in playing will be taken than is now apparent, and that many will be less inclined to the stubborn view that what they were taught is not open to any criticism.
Mr. MacDonald has written an excellent preface to the reprint and has added at the end of the book “Notes” drawing special attention to certain misprints, in the original. He has also given an excellent “Appendix” dealing with Bagpipe terms. These will prove most valuable to the student. The “Reprint” is very admirably printed by Aird & Coghill, 24 Douglas Street, Glasgow.
Orders for the desirable work should be sent to Mr. Alexander MacDonald, Glencona Inverness.
The Oban Times, 10 April 1909
A New Composer of Piobaireachd
In the ancient days the verbal notation or “canntaireachd” of the MacCrimmons preserved to posterity not a few eminent pieces of Ceòl Mòr, which otherwise would undoubtedly have been lost. In our time a new composer has arisen, who combines in a happy degree general musical culture with the special ability and enthusiasm required for the production of piobaireachd. When that old art has fallen on evil days, it is refreshing to know that such a man appears, whose heart is in the work, and his success has been so signally recognised.
We refer to Mr. John Grant, 21 Murieston Crescent, Edinburgh, the author and publisher of “The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd” which has recently appeared. Mr. Grant inherits the spirit of his fathers, who, in the romantic valley of the Spey, not only gave rise to a special branch of pipe music still popular, the strathspey, but have also embodied the spirit of steadfastness for all Celts and for all time in their clan slogan “Stand Fast Craigellachie.” On the banks of that smoothly gliding river, as if itself moved to some subtle melody, our author dwelt, in the vicinity of heath and corrie, he was nursed in the olden memories till the love of piobaireachd “haunted him like a passion.” In and around that district Mr. Grant, when quite a lad, carefully noted all the traditional and unpublished fragments of old music that he met with. His practice in this respect was a proof of his enthusiasm, and a good preparation for more ambitious flights of original composition. At this stage he used to walk over twenty miles twice a week to be instructed by a leading piper of that day. He early became a member of the pipe band of the third Battalion Seaforth Highlanders (volunteer), and his activity in this connection proved a source of incitement and emulation to his contemporaries there. His unwearied diligence in collecting the rarest and newest settings the tunes, enabled him in 1904 to submit to the Highland Society of London, through its President, the Marquis of Tullibardine, D.S.O., a collection of about eight hundred tunes, comprising piobaireachd, marches, strathspeys, reels and all other types of bagpipe music. On this colossal achievement our author received official recognition and approbation of the most encouraging nature. It is not to be wondered at that having acquired such an extensive knowledge of existing pipe music, and having been hailed and thanked from such an authoritative source, Mr. Grant should attain the loftier ambition of adapting his talents for some years to the well-nigh lost art of piobaireachd composition. And for the past five years our author has confined himself exclusively to this classical department of pipe music. He collected and copied out in full notation in number of piobaireachd tunes not in print, in a volume of over two hundred pages. From certain advantages in his professional work he has been enabled to cultivate the art of manuscript embellishment at the same time.
The volume in question is a charming illustration of the designers art, and is all hand copied and adorned from beginning to end. From this volume he proceeded to the writing of another volume, the largest collection of piobaireachd that has yet been put together. This MSS. volume is 17 by 23 inches. It is made on the newest principle of binding, the loose leaf, and admits of any tune being removed or inserted at will. The use of Celtic designs and ornamentations of olive green, violet, and other coloured inks, the skillful calligraphy in the masterly disposition and appearance of all the pages, remind one of the olden days when the art of the Celtic scribe was at its best. In this instance, indeed, may be seen whether culture and enthusiasm can do, not only for the recording but for the illumination of piobaireachd. When we consider that all this is done outside business hours the wonder grows, for this single volume alone might well represent the toil of many years.
In line with such a method of illumination Mr. Grant has also developed a way of writing clan piobaireachd in a form suitable for framing. The intention is that those interested in their own particular clan tunes may have them hung on walls, instead of secreting them away in some music folios, or concealing them in a cupboard. In this development our author has had single satisfaction. Tunes prepared in this way have been accepted by the King, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Connaught, and the King and Queen of Norway. Mr. Grant is the proud possessor of five royal letters of acceptance and thanks. Apart from musical worth these productions have the merit of rare calligraphy. Done in the ancient Celtic fashion, they bear heraldic designs and shields for mottos, family badges, and armorial bearings.
And now, finally, comes the crowning work of all. That is the original work, The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd. It is a production by the merit of which the author is willing that his reputation as a composer should stand or fall. It is unique as being the only original book of piobaireachd published by one man. It bears for a fitting frontispiece a splendid reproduction of the well-known and weird picture called “The Pibroch” by the late artist, Mr. Lockhart Bogle. The collection received the title “Royal” because the opening tune is a salute to his Majesty King Edward, who accepted the tune. Mr. Grant received the honour of special thanks from his Majesty for this inspiring composition. Another excellent tune in the collection is a Salute to the Piobaireachd Society. It seems to embody and express the patriotic zeal of that Society to resuscitate the practice of an ancient and noble art. The book contains six original tunes, all possessing musical merit of a high order, fine feeling and technical correctness, a very difficult feature in the composition of piobaireachd. We follow the career of this new composer with patriotic interest. Such men deserve our regard and respect. To conclude, it may be remarked that the favourite piece, according to the opinion of competent pipers, is the lament for her late Majesty, Queen Victoria. And it was only right that the best efforts of a fresh composer should be dedicated to a most fragrant and illustrious memory, even to the memory of her who endeared her name to every Highland heart by her preference for Highland customs and her devotion to and encouragement of the practice and preservation of the ancient art of piobaireachd.
Edinburgh Evening News, 1 August, 1942
Major John Macrae Killed
from The Oban Times of July 7th, 1909
The committee which organised the recognition of Major-General Thomason’s services to pipe music have every reason to feel gratified with the splendid response to their proposal, as the album, containing an illuminated address, with almost 800 signatures of admirers from all over the country, amply testified to the esteem in which the recipient is held.
The presentation was made at a public dinner held in the Union Hotel, Edinburgh, last Thursday, in honour of the occasion.
Captain Campbell of Kilberry presided over a company of about fifty gentlemen, which included the following–Major Stewart, Mr. James MacKillop, jun., Rev. Neil MacLeod Ross, Mr. D. E. MacDougall, Colonel Mackenzie Holden, Mr. James Bartholomew, advocate; Mr. Donald Shaw, S.S.C.; Mr. Menzies, Mr. John Macdermid, Dr. Alexander Carmichael, Dr. Skeoch Cumming, Dr. Bannatyne, Mr. Theodore Napier, Mr. David Crawford, Mr. David MacRitchie, Mr. James Grant, Mr. Wm. Mackay Tait, Mr. Somerled MacDonald, Mr. John Meckven, Mr. F. Bolteo, Mr. Kenneth MacLennan, Mr. Murdoch Macleod, Mr. John Macpherson, Mr. John Duncan, Mr. Bruce Allan, Mr. K. Whitton, Mr. James Sutherland, Mr. Wm Macleod, Mr. A.R. Macleod, Mr. Wm. Simpson, Mr. James Robertson, Mr. John Grant (author of “The Royal Pibroch”); Mr. John Dickson, Mr. Hugh Calder, Mr. John Gillies, Pipe-Major Duff, Pipe-Major Mathieson, Pipe-Major Barvie, and Lieut. Maclennan, Edinburgh, Hon. Secretary.
Apologies were received from Professor Mackinnon, Rev. J.W. Mackain of Ardnamurchan, Rev. Malcolm Maclennan, Edinburgh; Colonel Stewart of Ardvorlich, Captain Maclean of Pennycross, Captain and Mrs. Stewart of Fasnacloich, Mr. Alasdair Rob Forbes, Register House; Pipe-Majors Robert Meldrum, William Ross, G. S. Maclennan, Farquahar Macrae, Dun. Kerr, H.A. Flett, and the following champion pipers–Angus MacDonald, Morar; Colin Cameron, piper to the Duke of Fife; Ronald Mackenzie, piper to the Duke of Richmond and Gordon; and Alisdair Cameron, Achnacurry.
Be addressed to the general was as follows:–
Address to Major-General C. S. Thomason, R. E.
Sir,–We whose signatures are appended hereto desire to express to you our deep appreciation of, and to tender our sincere thanks for, the great work which you have accomplished in the interests of pipers and the music of the Great Highland Bagpipe.
Not only have you rescued from oblivion much of our national music, and placed on record a vast store of historical and traditional information which was rapidly being forgotten, but your enthusiasm, zeal, and example have been the means of reviving, encouraging, and preserving the interest taken in bagpipe music all over the world.
The extraordinary patience, time, and labour which you have devoted to your monumental work, “Ceol Mor,” have placed piobaireachd music on a footing which it has never held since the days of the MacCrimmons, and we can assure you that the fruits of your labours, and the results achieved by you, will ever be highly prized and valued by us, and also we feel sure, by many future generations.
The address was subscribed by pipers and others interested in piping all over the world, among whom the following names were conspicuous:–the Duchess of Sutherland, Lord Castletown, the Earl of Cassillis, MacLeod of MacLeod, Macintosh of Macintosh, MacPherson of Cluny, Captain Campbell of Kilberry, Maclean of Ardgour, Major Mathieson of Lewis, Capt. Macneil of Ugadale, Mr. H. L. MacDonald of Dunach, Mr. Arch. Menzies, Dr. Alex. Carmichael, Mr. Donald Shaw, Pres., Highland Pipers Society; Mr. James Mackillop, jun., and Mr. John Bartholomew, Scottish Pipers Society; Rev. Neil MaclLeod Ross, Dr. K. N. MacDonald, Mr. Theodore Napier, Mr. Somerled MacDonald, Mr. J. Douglas Ramsey, yr., of Banff; Mr. J. P. Grant, yr., of Rothiemurchus; Brigadier-General F. Campbell, D.S.O.; Mr. P. Cameron (Corrychollie); Captain and Mrs. Stewart of Fasnacloich; Miss Graham of Skipness, Ms. Elspeth Campbell, Glasgow; Mr. Archibald Campbell, Kilberry, Major K. M. Cameron, Mr. Walter Mackinnon, Mr. F.C.G. Campbell, Mr. H.C.B. Mackinnon, Lieut. Maclennan, Edinburgh; Lieut. Colonel Hugh Scott, Capt. Malcolm MacNeil, D.S.O.; Captain C. A. H. Maclean of Pennycross; Rev. J. F. Mackain, Mr. D.N. Nicol of Ardmarnoch; Mr. Alister C. Maclaren, Mr. J. D. Boswell, Mr. Angus S. Macnaughton, Mr. A. E. Parker, Mr. A.A. Chrystal, Mr. G. H. Hale, Mr. D. Bruce Allan, Mr. R. G. Monro, Capt. S. G. Crawford, D.S.O.; Mr. Lewis Gordon, Mr. J.M. Clavering, Mr. H.S. Dove, Mr. J.A. Christison, Mr. Skeoch Cumming, Mr. Duncan Cameron, Mr. George Brown, Mr. Charles Milne, Mr. Hew Fleet, Major A.D. Greenhill, Mr. James Grant, Mr. James R. Reid, Dr. Charles Bannatyne, Dr. D. J. Macauley, Mr. John Macdiarmid, Mr. David Crawford, Mr. J. MacNeill, Mr. A. E. MacColl, Mr. Roderick Campbell, Mr. Donald Carrie, Mr. John MacColl, Pipe-Majors Mackay, MacDougall, Gillies, MacDonald, Ross, Meldrum, Mathieson, Maclennan, MacLeod, Dunbar, S. Allan, Don. Sutherland, Mackie, Macrae, Thomson, Black, Baillie, New Zealand; Lemon, Vancouver; Dr. D. M. Campbell, Mr. T.K. Carmichael, Mr. J. Stephan, Canada; Lieut.-Colonel Menzies, and Mr.N.D. Campbell, Inverneill.
The loyal and patriotic toasts having been honoured, the toast of the evening was proposed from the Chair.
The Chairman’s Tribute
The Chairman said they all knew they were assembled that evening to present an address to general Thomason. There are many reasons why an address should be presented to General Thomason. He was in every way worthy of receiving as much honour as his fellow-countrymen could do him. He was, as they knew, a Highlander born and bred. His father was the greatest Revenue Administrator that Northern India ever knew. When young he took to the profession which he (the Chairman) might be pardoned for saying was the best a young man could choose. He was at the very first blow struck against the rebels in the Indian Mutiny, and he served throughout the Mutiny. When the Mutiny concluded he engaged in the usual combination of civil and military duties which fell to the lot of an engineer officer in India. But to them who were Highlanders he had rendered other services which in their eyes seemed more important–he meant the service to the cause of “Ceol Mor.” The General, as he had told them in the preface of “Ceol Mor,” had always been a
Collector of Piobaireachd
music since his boyhood. He had already in his possession a large amount of manuscript music when the Mutiny broke out, but at the siege of Delhi it was all destroyed. That would have discouraged any ordinary person, but he set about the task of replacing the lost documents, and by degrees, by labour and pains, most of it was done. Throughout his whole career, he continued slowly and steadily the work of recording and setting the piobaireachd, and that in an Indian climate. He devoted the whole of the leisure hours of an engineer officer employed in the construction of canals and other works–and he would have very few leisure hours–but he employed these in the accurate study, writing down, and correcting of piobaireachd. He could picture General Thomason, while personally supervising the work of construction, sitting on the bank of a canal in the intense heat of an Indian sun, sounding his chanter and trying to record the correct notes, while the perspiration fell from him, and it was difficult for him to hold his pencil steadily. That was not an inaccurate picture of what must have been done. As far as he had heard, no assistance was given to General Thomason in the publication of “Ceol Mor”–he did not mean pecuniary assistance, but actual encouragement and assistance in working the thing. When “Ceol Mor” was published, one would have thought that when the publication came before the world of so valuable a work on pipe music, some interest in it would have been raised. It was not the case; the piping world was almost, so far as he remembered, entirely indifferent to what had now been proved to be the greatest impulse which had been given to “Ceol Mor” in their generation. Still, although no great step was taken, and no great encouragement given, a start was made, and some professional and other masters became interested, and whether from mere curiosity or not, some took to the study of the book, and the very slightest study convinced them that the so-called difficulties in understanding the “Ceol Mor” notation were exaggerated. It began to be talked about and written about, and as time went on the “Ceol Mor” in the abstract and in the concrete, as expressed in General Thomason’s book, had increased, and was still increasing. The neglect with which General Thomason’s work was treated when it was published did not exist now. It was
A Standard Work,
and would be a standard work as long as the Highlands remained. Others might improve it, but General Thomason had laid the foundation, and the mere fact of “Ceol Mor” having been published was the most important factor in the history of Highland music since the Act abolishing the Highland dress.
The Chairman made the presentation amid enthusiastic cheers, and the toast of General Thomason’s health was pledged with Highland honours, while the bagpipes played “Stand fast, Craigellachie.”
The Story of “Ceol Mor.”
General Thomason was received with cheers when he rose to reply. He said they could not make him a K.C.M.G., but they had made him, in the capitals of the words, a K.C.M. of “Ceol Mor.” He could not tell them how much he appreciated the honour they had done him, and they could not have done it in a nicer way, or in a way in which he and his descendants after him would value it more. They could not think what pleasure it had given him and his family to know what they were doing that night. Seeing that he had the opportunity of addressing them, he would like to say something about “Ceol Mor.” Many people thought it was a great piece of presumption on his part to undertake such a task as constructing the “Ceol Mor.” He had a sincere love for the subject all through life, and he had no more idea of writing such a book then he had of flying. He came of a piping stock. His grandfather was a good piper, and he rubbed it well into him. He started the collection of piobaireachd, and he tried very hard in those days–in 1850–to get hold of copies of music, and when a copy of Mackay’s came into his hands he set to work and copied the whole book, and he tried to abbreviate the work, and that was the beginning of the “Ceol Mor” notation. He got a look at the family volume they all prizeed very much–MacDonald.s second unpublished volume. He was a pupil of old Sandy Cameron, and Sandy was very much taken with the book, but he did not think he could make very much of it. He (General Thomason) took his collection of piobaireachd out to India with him, but that collection, as Kilberry had told them, he lost on the day of the mutiny at Delhi. He felt that it had to be replaced somehow. Fortunately, he had a copy of Mackay’s book given to him and although he had nobody to play the pipes to him he set to work at this, and when he first came back on furlough after the mutiny he got a good deal of encouragement from different friends–from old Sandy Cameron amongst them. He could not play much, but he had the love of the thing, which was what they wanted. It was only when he came home in 1870-71 that he got his
First Real Chance.
He was in his old Highland home in Strathspey, and Donald Mackay, then piper to Ballindalloch, used to come over to him, and they held at the pibrochs from morning till night, and he did what he would never regret all his life–he took down the notes from Donald Mackay. It was owing to these notes especially that they had “Ceol Mor” to-day, because he got from Donald Mackay all the corrected music of old Donald Cameron, the greatest piper in his time, that was known. He set to work at this. He took his notes to India with him, and he never heard a tune on the pipes for years, but he had his chanter with him and all his notes. He never got anyone to listen to him–perhaps it was as well that he did not. Part of his work in India rather lent itself to the object he had in view. He was for two years at labour works, and had to go all round the coast studying not only the harbours, but the internal communications of the country, and they could not think the number of old Highlanders he used to meet on his travels and rejoice by his playing. He had some very serious stories of what happened in that way. He went on, always wanting to be at “Ceol Mor,” and to reduce all the notes he had into shipshape, but he did not get the opportunity until his work was over. The day after he retired from active service he began at “Ceol Mor.” He had no intention of writing such a book as he had done–he wanted simply to reduce to order the notes he had. He had found that almost all the pipers he had met had a curious idea that “Ceol Mor” was the music of prose and not of poetry. They could not think what it was to knock that out of people’s heads. If that had been the case, nobody could have corrected “Ceol Mor.” He found in Mackay;s book the lines marked, and he wondered it never occurred to Mackay to hit upon the next thing–the sections and phrases. That did not seem to have occurred to anybody, and it was
The Most Important Thing
of all. When he got that he found the music was capable of correction. They found part of a section or a second line destroying the rhythm, and if they corrected that they reduced chaos to order. The thing was as plain as they now saw it. Very often he found the corrections corroborated by what he found in the variations, and that was the first great step taken in the correction of “Ceol Mor.” General Thomason proceeded to narrate how he got the work accomplished. Fortunately, he was helped a good deal by the 2nd Highland Light Infantry. He made the acquaintance of Pipe-Major Patterson and Kenneth Cameron, the son of old Donald Cameron, and there never were such enthusiastic fellows–they never tired, and they got through everything. He came home, and became the purchaser of Mackay’s unpublished pibrochs. They belonged to Mr. Dove, who was a barrister. He tackled them in the same way. It was a pretty good collection. Having got so far, he thought to himself that this was all very well, but he was getting out of his depth. He had got a big book, and when he looked at it he found that to make it complete you must adopt some abbreviated system of notation, so that the music should be given, not only in lines, but in sections and phrases. He could not have done that without the “Ceol Mor” notation. They had no conception of the amount of writing and re-writing that that entailed. The abbreviations oftentimes required correction for many pages back. At last he came to the conclusion that if this work was to come to anything he must give what he had got, and leave it to other people to correct. He wished them to understand that when he issued that volume it was not done in any spirit of presumption, but to make as public as he could the collection he had, and he trusted to the pipers to help in correcting them and getting out a second edition, which would be most valuable of all. The help he received, especially from Colin Cameron and MacDougall Gillies, in correcting his notes, led a good deal to the simplification of his system. That was the story of “Ceol Mor.” There was another thing that helped him very much. In making these corrections he had always the idea that there dear old “Ceol Mor” was the music of Nature. He had often imagined the composer of one of their beautiful Urlar’s finding himself playing at the Linn, on which the bedroom window of his old Highland home looked out. Say the burn, now “burn Roy,” and probably Alt Ruadh to their forefathers, was in spate, bearing the full of the water into the Linn suggested to him what a beautiful accompaniment it was, and led to the composition of the “Toarluath.” Going along the burn side, above the fall where he spent many happy days as a boy, with gun on shoulder, he himself would find the nature of this accompaniment changing. For the booming of the fall, he would now have the varying notes of the burn, still in spate, rippling over boulders and shingle, the upper notes and trills of his chanter, so suggestive of the cries of the whaup, the pewit, and the seagulls flying overhead, and hence came the “Fosgailte.” Tracing the burn up to its source, he would pass a scanty fir wood near the top of the hill, where the strong winds know how to blow, and thus the “A Mach.” Arrived at the Corseallach spring, he would find himself at the spot where they always took their lunch when out on the hills, and where he had heard many a “Sgeulachd” from the Highland keepers and hill watchers. Were they astonished that he loved “Ceol Mor”? They were doing him honour for a very feeble work. The book wanted a second edition; but the basis was there. And what he should like would be that somebody else would
Join Him in His Old Work,
who could do the writing for him, and he could give everything else. Then they would have “Ceol Mor” reduced to as simple a form as he could imagine. He thanked them very much for the honour they had done him, and said he did not think they could have given him anything that would have been more appreciated than such an address is that.
Tir Nam Beann.
Mr. Archibald Menzies been proposed to toast, “Tir nam Beann,’s na Gleann, ‘s nan Gaisgaich.” Having expressed his great pleasure at having the opportunity, along with the other gentlemen, of doing honour to General Thomason, he said there never was a truer description of the grand old Highlands of Scotland than that comprised in the words of the toast, which meant “Land of the hills, and the glens, and the heroes.” After alluding to the Gaelic revival in Inverness, he dwelt upon the grandeur of Highland scenery, and upon the bravery of their Highland soldiers and sailors. He could go back to the days of Sir Colin Campbell, and down to the days of Sir Hector MacDonald, and between them there was a whole army of heroes who had fought for their country in the army. Referring to a personal aspect of the question, he said his grandfather, Major Archibald Menzies, as captain of the Grenadier Company of the 42nd Highlanders, was reputed to have, in the Battle of Waterloo, killed six Frenchmen before he fell wounded himself. There was no finer music than the music of the Highlands of Scotland–vocal music and pipe music. It was also grand upon the fiddle. They had no “Ceol Mor,” but they had “Ceol Mir.”
The toast was cordially honoured.
The other toasts were “Highland Music,” “Lieut. Maclennan” and “The Chairman.”
General Thomason’s Honour
The dinner to General Thomason in the Union Hotel last Thursday was in every way worthy of the occasion. The large and representative gathering from all parts of the country testified to the high esteem in which the gallant General was held, not only among adepts at pipe music, but among the whole community who have the preservation and advancement of the art of heart. The toast of the evening was proposed from the Chair in a most eulogistic speech by Captain Campbell of Kilberry, and was drunk with Highland honours. The other speeches were in every way complementary to the guest and his capable efforts on behalf of bagpipe music.
The Scotsman, 31 August, 1973
A pair of 12-bore sporting guns, by Boss & Co., realised £5400, and a set of Highland bagpipes, owned by Pipe Major John Grant of Edinburgh, together with manuscript pipe music by him went for £650.
The second part of the sale today consists of 172 pictures, 100 of which are by Scottish artists.