The Northern Scot, 15 April 1911
The second edition of the “Royal Collection of Piobaireachd” has just been issued by Mr. John Grant, Edinburgh, and is a production of which any Highlander might be proud, not to speak of any Highland piper. Mr. Grant is well known as the composer of great merit, and we noticed that the King has been pleased to accept to special compositions entitled: “King George Fifth’ s Salute,” and “Lament for King Edward Seventh.” This is an honour which Mr. Grant naturally values very highly. The Gaelic translations given in this issue have never before appeared in a book of bagpipe music. It is a matter worthy of special notice is that the “toarluath and crunluath” variations appear as they have been written for the first time in the history of piobaireachd exactly as they are played. By timing those variations as Mr. Grant has done the piobaireachd, which is written from end-to-end in the same time is a perfect tune, and the only means by which the theme can be followed entirely in all the variations. The tunes contained in the volume are of the highest order and have all been accepted personally by those to whom they are dedicated, who have expressed themselves as highly pleased with the melodies.
The People’s Journal, 15 April 1911
Lovers of Highland music will welcome the publication of the second edition of “The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd” issued and published by Mr. John Grant, Edinburgh. Every loyal pipers should possess a copy in this the coronation year, because it contains a new “Salute to King George Fifth.” No Highland celebration will be complete without the stately and beautiful piobaireachd. It has been graciously accepted by his Majesty. A reproduction of the Royal letter is given in the volume. Another attractive feature is a frontispiece “the Pibroch” reproduced from the painting of a famous artist, and depicting a Highlander playing the bagpipe with poetic ecstasy. It is of special interest to pipers to know that the toarluath and crunluath variations of the tunes are written for the first time in the history of piobaireachd exactly as they are played. By timing these variations as Mr. Grant has done, a piobaireachd which is written from end-to-end in the same time, is a tune perfect in construction, and follows the theme in spirit and sympathy. The tunes are all of the very highest order, and have been accepted personally by those to whom they are dedicated. It is interesting to note that Mr. Grant was requested to appear before the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton to play his Grace’s Salute, and was awarded their complete praise of satisfaction with the melody. Their Grace’s instructed the author to prepare a copy of the Salute in illuminated Celtic design in form for framing, which was accordingly done and sent to Hamilton Palace in an oak and gilt frame for preservation. This new edition is worthy of the widest publicity. It will be welcomed by the old pipers, and to the rising men it should prove a means of inspiration and education in the art of ancient piobaireachd.
Oban Times, 7 April 1911
The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd
Two years ago a book of original pipe music entitled “The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd was published by Mr. John Grant, Edinburgh. A the time of its first appearance the book was most favourably reviewed in the press and was cordially received by the public. Now a second and enlarged edition has appeared. There are fifteen additional and original tunes with Gaelic renderings of Prefaces and of the extended introduction.
The motive of the work is the revival of the ancient art of piobaireachd composition. There is an effort made to conserve the merits of this musical form of expression; the gladness of those who rejoice, as at the coming-of-age or marriage of the chief is here no less effectively represented then the grief of those who mourn the loss of the departed, while the martial spirit of the clansman is roused by an appeal conveyed an appropriate melodies.
The separate tunes are respectively dedicated to individuals to whom a copy of the respective tunes have been presented in illuminated form. The tunes have also been entered and protected at Stationers Hall. The work is entitled “the Royal Collection of Piobaireachd” because it contains several Royal tunes by special acceptance. Others have been accepted by Highland Chieftains and members of the Scottish nobility to whom it was customary in the olden days to dedicate tunes on special occasions. The composer has rendered those tunes in some instances in presence of those to whom they were dedicated who heartily expressed their appreciation, and rejoiced that their name should once more be associated with the revival of an ancient and neglected art.
There is one element and merit which are to be particularly observed, that is the fertility of the imagination that can create so many new melodies in the stir and bustle of a great city. If even in the olden times it was considered to be mysterious to produce fresh harmonies in the environment of corry and mountain and glen, with the sounds and suggestions of nature on every hand how much harder must it be to create original music in the distracted and confined surroundings of city life. The ancient composers developed their themes to the voice of the purling brook, or in the “rapture of the lonely shore.” But the author this volume has produced his work in his leisure moments in the task of a mercantile evocation, his attention being often absorbed in occupations which are not congenial to the development of a musical theme.
The work combines in itself an exposition of Highland musical art with Prefaces and Introduction in the Gaelic language. This is a new feature in books of piobaireachd. It is a welcome feature, especially in these days when so many efforts are put forth to preserve the old tongue.
In spite of the distinguished list of patrons contained in the end of the volume, the undertaking of such a magnificent scale was certainly a financial risk, but it is gratifying to think that the confidence and enterprise of the author are likely to be justified in this respect as in every other. The reviewer thinks such enterprise should be an effective call to those who are interested in piobaireachd to combine their efforts in order to encourage and preserve the noble and ancient art.
Another feature is the improved method (as we consider) of writing the toarluath and crunluath variations. Each movement or group of notes in these variations have really the value of a crotchet. There is usually more value assigned to each movement in the method that hitherto has been, and in books a piobaireachd, but Mr. Grant has widely departed from that misleading custom. Misleading especially to beginners. Instead of following the confused style in vogue he has given its exact musical value to every movement so that the real theme of the piece can be followed even in the variations from beginning to end. This is a striking novelty but it is one which does a new light on ancient piobaireachd, and introduces order and beauty, where formally there was undoubted confusion. Anyone who understands the relation between the ground of a piobaireachd and its toarluath and crunluath variations must honestly confess that he has been often provoked by and amazed at the perversity with which writers of such music have long adhered to an incorrect and fallacious method; and the measure of correctness which performers retained was certainly not found from books of piobaireachd in the past, but from tradition merely. This shows how tenacious an error may be, especially when sanctioned by conservative performers, who hereto an error just because others did so before them.
Finally the volume is bound in Royal blue with gilt title page and gilt-edged, and is one of the handsomest that has appeared in the history of piobaireachd. The title is surmounted with the crown, the emblem of Royal recognition. In this instance the modern accessories of printing and workmanship have been lavished to the utmost upon the presentation of piobaireachd in written form. All that is now wanting is the wholehearted enthusiasm and cooperation of all lovers of this accomplishment; so that its rendering on the national instrument shall be no less pleasant to the ear than this volume is to the eye. In the contemporary revival of interest in the musical and linguisti c love of our country both at home and abroad this new edition of Mr. Grant’s book is no small contribution; and it is to be ardently hoped that the merits of the work will be fully recognized, and that it may receive from the public the appreciation it so well deserves.
The Oban Times, 9 April 1909 [? – correct date TBD]
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, 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 good 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 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 a 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 MS measures seventeen by twenty-three inches. It is made in 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 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 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, 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 Seventh, 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 in the book is “The Lament for 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 and most noble art of piobaireachd.
The Northern Scot, 9 May 1908
New Collection of Piobaireachd
An Elgin Man
It is with much pleasure that we call attention to The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd composed and published by Mr. John Grant, Edinburgh, Mr. Grant is a native of Elgin and during his residence in the town he served for six years in the local volunteers. His enthusiasm for everything pertaining to pipe music is so intense that it affects his readers and wakens a desire to know more about the glorious history of the pibroch. The composition of the book as Mr. Grant informs us entailed a good deal of thought and work, but it must have been a labour of love.
King Edward has been pleased to accept from the hand of the author one tune as peculiarly his own. In this connection Mr. Grant remarks–” this art is a royal art as it has ever been, and if in the olden days it derived inspiration from dwelling on the royal cairns and on the ruins of departed glory, surely it is no derogation from its power that now in its resurrection it should receive audience and recognition in the presence of Kings and Princes.” Mr. Grant is evidently imbued with a fine majestic fervour of the Celt, and has imparted some of that feeling to his book. The frontispiece is a large full-page reproduction of a painting by Lockhart Bogle called “the Pibroch,” a picture which in a wonderful way presents to our imagination all the wild abandon and charm of one of the great MacCrimmons, as with his plaid wrapped around him he paces the lofty battlements, the streamers waving in the blast. In a finely written introduction the composer refers to the power of the Lament “searching the heart to the inmost core, and tapping the fountain of tears. For who that has ever been present at a chieftain’s funeral, where the flowing grass ways mournfully in the western breeze, as the zephyrs moan in the green dells, but must realize the pathos of the Lament for the hero who will never return. No more we tread this fancy-haunted valley, where through the dark and lonely glens winds the dimpling stream… He is sleeping beside the sounding surge that laves his narrow bed, for the chief has closed his eyes in darkness, and has quitted the light of the day.” This is the true spirit of the pipes which will appeal to all Scotsmen, who will also agree with Mr. Grant when he says that there can be no prettier site than a full-dressed Highland piper, filled with the spirit of the mists in the hills, discoursing warlike lays on the great Highland bagpipe. The glamour and heroic history of the pipes will always appeal to Scotsmen.
The collection which contains six pieces is dedicated by special permission to the President and members of the Piobaireachd Society. Besides the tune accepted by King Edward other tunes have been accepted by the Duke of Connaught and by Lord Archibald Campbell. It is interesting to note that there are three tunes “King Edward VII Salute,” “The Lament for Queen Victoria,” and “The Piobaireachd Society’s Salute”–are also arranged with the piano setting, an unusual feature which should enhance their value. Mr. Grant deserves well at the hands of that large and growing band of pipers for the great pains he has taken in the production of this collection, and it is to be hoped they will take advantage of it and encourage others to do the same. From those able to judge, we believe that the pieces in the book are all of a high standard of excellence and well worth the adoption by the most distinguished pipers in the land.
The collection is finally printed in ordinary music size, and is published by the author.