OT: 21 March 1914 – Simon Fraser

 The Oban Times, 21 March, 1914

No. 6 Verner Street, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

3 February, 1914

Sir,–In a copy of your valuable paper I have just seen a letter from Mr. John Grant. With your kind permission, I will reply to it. Mr. Grant, in reply to the late lamented Dr. K. N. MacDonald, says that the MacCrimmons never used their notation for religious purposes, and it is only I who says so. I simply told Dr. MacDonald what John Dubh MacCrimmon told Neil MacLeod, A. Bruce, and my own father, and what Charles MacArthur told my grandmother, and my mother also told myself.

I have no feeling against Mr. Grant. He is mistaken in his ideas. The very fact of his saying that the Hiodratatateriri beat is a Breabach proves this. It is nothing else but what MacLeod says it is. There are three different forms of crunluath in “Coghiegh nha Shie,” but Mr. Grant does not know what they are, and therefore cannot play or translate them. I can do both, for I was shown often enough by the late Peter Bruce.

As Mr. Grant cannot interview me himself, perhaps he may know some good piper in Australia, whom he could get to call on me. If he does I would be only too pleased to show the piper how to play, read, and translate all three beats that have puzzled Mr. Grant.

Mr. Grant does not like the idea of the MacCrimmons being of Italian origin; but Mr. Grant is not alone in this matter. That does not alter the fact that they were Italian, and that is the great reason why they were such splendid players, and, as Peter Bruce used to say, that is no disgrace, when we know that the greatest master of the violin (Paganini) was an Italian. If Mr. Grant will look over MacLeod’s book of 1828 he will not find drun or trun in any other tune; he will find the letters R. U. N. O. in other tunes, but not “run,” the three centre letters of Bruno.

Mr. Grant says that there are no writings by the MacCrimmons in existence. According to John Dubh, this is easily explained. After the battle of Culloden everything belonging to them in the shape of writings was destroyed, on account of the stringent oath that had to be taken at that time respecting kilts, piping, etc. I am very sorry that Mr. Grant and myself are so far apart, as I could soon convince him that he has still a lot to learn. Hoping he may find some good piper in Australia that will call on me, and by doing so that he may learn something to his advantage–I am, etc.,

Simon Fraser