OT: 13 October 1914 – Simon Fraser

The Oban Times, 13 October, 1914

No. 6 Verner Street, Geelong, Victoria, Australia, 1 August, 1914

Sir,–On June 19, 1911, Mr. John Grant started on his voyage of extermination of the immortal Gesto and myself! After encountering a rough passage, he has now returned to the port that he sailed from, viz., a leaflet, written by myself from Gesto’s History of the MacCrimmons, dictated by John Dubh to Gesto and my father (pages 6 and 7 of Gesto’s unpublished book).

What Mr. Grant quotes is correct, but I fail to see how he is able to misconstrue what I have written into the meaning he has put on those words. However, I am not going to quarrel with Mr. Grant over anything he has written, and will leave anyone interested to draw their own conclusions. Mr. Grant has been the principal means of convincing me be on any doubt that I know more about the MacCrimmons and notation than any other person living at the present time. His last letter is excellent on this point. He admits that he knows nothing about a six-syllable crunluath beat, and as I can both play it and write it in ordinary notation, I have the better of Mr. Grant! I have also seen this form of crunluath and manuscript–ordinary notation.

In a letter from Gesto to my father in Australia, dated 7th December, 1828, he (Gesto) says–” I have not played the pipe since you left, owing to my long and the trouble, but I still play the violin to amuse myself.”

Now according to Alasdair Ruadh or “Fionn’s” account, Alasdair saw Gesto after this letter was written, and he never heard Gesto play, which very likely caused Alasdair to think that Gesto could not play. But this is no proof against the fact that Gesto was a splendid player. Three of his pupils, to my own personal knowledge, came to Australia and died there, namely Norman MacLeod (Gesto seven), Kenneth Stewart and Peter Bruce, who taught myself to play the pipes. All these men could play “Ho-da-tri, Ho-da-ti-ri” and “hiodratatateriri” beats. As I can do the same, and also play or translate any beat in Gesto’s book, I can see no harm in saying that I have a better knowledge of piobaireachd than those who cannot do so. Thanking you, sir, for your kindness and publishing my letters, and wishing Mr. Grant adieu–I am, etc.,

Simon Fraser