OT: 30 January 1915 – Simon Fraser “Gesto and Canntaireachd”

The Oban Times, 30 January, 1915

Gesto and Canntaireachd

6 Verner Street, South Geelong, Melbourne, Australia, 7 December, 1914

Sir, In enclosing my annual subscription for “The Oban Times,” permit me to say that I always find your valuable paper very interesting, and the account of the War news is excellent. With regard to a controversy with Mr. John Grant as to Gesto’s book, I enclose you a three-syllable beat from No. 18 of MacLeod’s book of 1828, which has puzzled Mr. Grant and others, to show you that such a beat can be put in ordinary notation and played as well.

Gesto’s book is in the old MacCrimmon notation, but I am afraid Mr. Grant does not want to know this, as he appears to be the only one who doubts that Gesto’s book is not genuine. I believe with others that the book contains the genuine MacCruimen notation.

The important thing now to consider is–Has this notation been written correctly in ordinary notation? I am in a position to prove that this has not been done, so far as I have seen, by the books of MacDonald, Mackay, Ross and others. The important essential in the old and improved system of Patrick Mhor is to know how to play those beats in MacLeod’s books. Mr. Grant asked in one of his letters why I have not written a book. I had one partly written, but when the controversy started about the correct settings of tunes, I came to the conclusion that it would be wasting time to do so. When I asked a friend of mine in Sydney why he had not learnt piobaireachd, he replied–”What is the use? No two pipers of Scotland seem to agree as to the correct settings of the tunes.”

I made a fair offer to Mr. Grant to get a good piper to call on me and test me as to my ability, and that offer is still open to anyone interested, whether in Scotland or Australia.–I am, etc.,

Simon Fraser

Bells of Perth


I hindo dro dro, hiendo dro drin.
hiendo dra diriro. bietrie diriro dra diriro.
hien do dra diriro. bietrie diriro hien drin.
hiendo dra diriro.bietrie diriro dra diriro.
hiendo dro drin. hiendo dra diriro.
hiendo dra diriro. bietrie diriro hien drin.
hiendo dra diriro. bietrie diriro dra diriro.
hien bietrie dra diriro. bietrie diriro hien drin.

The letter u is not in the about tune, which was published in “The Oban Times” some time ago.

Below is Cranluath Beats in book of 1828.

Syllables.                   Syllables.
Ho-da-tri 3                Ho-dro-ta-ti-ri-ri 6
Ho-da-ti-ri 4             Ho-dra-ta-ta-te-ri-ri 7
Ho-da-trie-ri 4         Hi-o-dra-ta-ta-ter-ri-ri 8
Hi-en-do-ri-ri 5       Ho-dra-trie-ri 4
Ho-da-dir-in-to 5    Ho-da-dir-in-da 5
Breabach.                   Breabach.