OT: 18 September 1915 – Musæus “The Bagpipe and Its Music”

The Oban Times, 18. September 1915.

The Bagpipe and Its Music

13 September, 1915.

Sir,–May I crave a space in your widely read paper to write on the ever interesting subject, “The Bagpipe”?

Mr. MacRae mentions “Cha tille MacCrumein” as a MacCrimmon composition. This song was composed by the late Dr. MacLeod in 1840, but the air was known as “Cha tille Mi Tuilleadh” long before that date, and so was the Piobaireachd. Further on he tells us the “MacRae’s March” was composed in 1491. The date of the Strathpeffer Battle is seriously put as in 1477 to 1491, but from the composition of the tune, it could not have been composed till. Mary MacLeod, the Skye poetess, wrote, for she alone used this measure. Further on he refers to “Black Donald Balloch of the Isles.” Surely Mr. MacRae is aware that no man of that name ever existed!

“Arbiter” says: “No lament in verse or words has any connection with a lament in piobaireachd.” What about Rory Mor MacLeod’s Lament, a beautiful piobaireachd, also a lovely Mod favourite song?

Mr. J. Grant states: “Mr. MacPharlain admits he cannot play the Bagpipe. Then he does not know anything whatever of the real merits of the bagpipe music. . . . Bagpipe and Gaelic song have no connection.” If it be correct to say that because Mr. MacPharlain cannot play the pipe he knows nothing of it, then it is equally correct to say that because Mr. Grant has no knowledge of Gaelic he cannot say that there is not a connection between the Bagpipe and Gaelic.

In his last letter Mr. Grant says: “There are not nine notes in the Highland Bagpipe scale. There are only eight notes.”

There are only eight notes in any scale, no matter what instrument may me, but if he means the compass of the chanter, then there are nine notes.–I am, etc.,