OT: 2 October 1915 – Calum MacPharlain “The Bagpipe and Its Music”

The Oban Times, 2 October, 1915

The Bagpipe and Its Music

Elderslie, 25 September, 1915

Sir,–Mr. Grant is revealing still how barren of ideas he is on the subject which he professes to know so much better than myself. He puts me in mind of a man I knew, who we as boys called “Charlie and his wan tune.” Charlie would insist on playing the fiddle. But no matter what tune Charlie started on, he invariably ended with “Charlie is my darlin’.” Even so with Mr. Grant; no matter how much his statements stand in need of evidence to back them, we can get out of him only: “What is the connection between Gaelic song and the bagpipe?”–a connection which is made clear in the article which he attacked without reading. Let him attack that part of the article, if he sees need.

I have a proposal to make, and here it is:

Alexander Campbell, and Edinburgh musician of repute, who published “Albyn’s Anthology” ninety-seven years ago, writes in the preface to that book, when treating of musical instruments which existed in Scotland previous to his own day, as follows:–

“At what particular time the various species of the bagpipe were introduced into the Lowlands, Highlands, Western and Northern Isles, is still a matter of uncertainty. But that that which is now called the ‘Great Highland Bagpipe’ was in general use, both on the Continent and in South Britain, at the commencement of the sixteenth century, the writer of these pages has clearly shown, and sufficiently proved, in his notes annexed to ‘The Grampians Desolate, a Poem’ which fell dead from the press many years ago.”

Now, as Mr. Grant lives in Edinburgh, it will be no hardship for him to visit the excellent libraries there and copy out, for his own and our education, what Mr. Campbell, who was a Gaelic speaker and writer and musician, has to say about the “Great Highland Bagpipe,” which Mr. Grant differentiates from other species of the bagpipe.–I am, etc.,

Calum MacPharlain