OT: 4 July 1914 – Simon Fraser “The MacCrimmons and Their Notation”

The Oban Times, 4 July, 1914

The MacCrimmons And Their Notation

No. 6 Verner Street, Geelong, Melbourne, Australia, 22 May, 1914

Sir,–Kindly allow me space to correct a statement by Mr. John Grant in his letter dated 23 March, 1914. He says I accused the MacCrimmons of closing the Bible and using piobaireachd for religious purposes.

I never made such a statement at any time. What I did say was this–that they held certain opinions respecting certain passages in the Scriptures, and they used their pipers’ language to keep those opinions among themselves or those in the know, so as not to offend those who differed from them.

I quote one of the passages as an example, viz., “I came to bring peace, not a sword.”

Being of Highland origin myself, it is only natural that I should feel proud of claiming the MacCrimmons as being Highland origin; but I cannot do so, as the evidence I have is too strong against such a supposition. However, I have no wish to enter into any controversy on the subject with anyone.

Respecting the tune “War or Peace,” I have Angus Mackay’s and others versions of it in ordinary notation, but they only contain the Ho-da-ti-ri form of cronluigh, with its Singling, Doubling, and trebling. The Ho-da-tri and the Hio-da-ta-ta-teriri do not appear in any ordinary notation that I have seen. I am just about finishing a book of tunes, which I hope to have out before the end of this year, and I am putting in, besides other tunes (not published hitherto) the version of “War or Peace” as taught to my great-grandfather by Patrick Og MacCrimmon. In this book I will deal with the various forms of cronluigh or crunluath in ordinary notation, so that Mr. Grant and others will see that there are different forms of those beats which have not appeared before in ordinary notation.

Dr. Bannatyne, I believe, is translating the Macleod’s published book of 1828, and as Mr. Grant has composed a lot of tunes as well, between the three of us there ought to be bright, instead of dark, days for piobaireachd in future.–I am, etc.,

Simon Fraser