The Oban Times, 28 February, 1914
27 Comely Bank Street, Edinburgh, 23 February, 1914
Sir,–I have much pleasure in replying to your correspondent’s question as to how to play a piobaireachd properly.
When playing the urlar, the performer marches to and fro, or rather paces the ground or floor gracefully, but not keeping time with his feet to the beat of the music as he was in the case of an ordinary march. The same when playing the doubling of urlar, thumb variations, or singling of first variation, if there are such. To the doubling of first variation the performer stands still, body perfectly straight, and head erect. He may beat time to his doublings, but it is quite unnecessary. The same rule should be carried out in regard to all singlings and doublings of variations till the end of the tune. After the doubling of crunluath, the performer finishes up by playing the theme, pacing off gracefully, as he did to begin with.
There are men, or “professors,” who will tell you that there is neither time nor rhythm and a piobaireachd unless you march to every bit of it but beware of those people, and if you wish to be a piobaireachd player of note, ignore their advice.
I can assure you that there is no more need to march to a piobaireachd in whole or in part any more than the choir and congregation should march through the church, or beat time to an anthem.
Should any correspondents attempt to mislead you, I will be pleased to say more on the matter if necessary.
The entire explanation and definition of piobaireachd in minute detail will be found in my new work, “Piobaireachd: Its Origin and Construction,” which is now in the hands of the printer.–I am, etc.,