OT: 23 July 1910 – Loch Sloy “The Piobaireachd Society’s Music”

The Oban Times, 23 July, 1910

The Piobaireachd Society’s Music

14 July, 1910

Sir,–I was much surprised to read, in your issue of July 2nd, that “Loch Duich” imagines that I accused him of attacking Piobaireachd Society. I never in the course of my writing mentioned “Loch Duich.” Seemingly my letters have touched a sympathetic chord, because “Loch Duich” admits a decided improvement in the Society’s work. “Loch Duich” says that “as piobaireachd is played, the player knows no beats and recognizes none, and for some obscure reason does not step to piobaireachd.” Why, it is part of the beauty of piobaireachd playing to watch the performer as he walks with varied steps, full of meaning, as he slowly circles or crosses from corner to corner the platform upon which he plays, and stands at intervals as the case may be, when rendering different parts of his tune.

In conclusion, piobaireachd as it stands today, amidst all controversy, is all a matter of interpretation, especially old MS., and a difficult matter to deal with, and one upon which I shall not venture to give a definite opinion until I am very much older, but surely it is only reasonable that the executant’s temperament should find an outlet in the works he interprets? To one man a thing will seem heroic because he is of an heroic disposition. A man of poetic and dreamy temperament might treat the same theme in an entirely different way. Must each interpretation be wrong because the composer was misanthrope, filled with morbid fancies? And more than this, is it not reasonable to suppose that a man who is great enough to compose great works should also be great enough to understand each succeeding interpreter of them will possess a varying temperament? I think it would take a bold man to affirm that every composer wrote for one particular style, or one particular temperament, and expected each succeeding performer to adopt. I am, etc,.

Loch Sloy [MacFarlane piper Glenreasdell]