OT: 2 October 1915 – John Grant

The Oban Times, 2 October, 1915

27 Comely Bank Street, Edinburgh, 27 September, 1915

Sir,–in last week’s issue your correspondent, Mr. MacPharlain, says that in my letter of the 11th inst. I reiterate my question–What has the Highland Bagpipe got to do with Gaelic Song? This being the case, it is also true that Mr. MacPharlain says “that they have not much connection.” That means his admission that they have no connection worthy of comparison. Have I not now settled this question? Mr. MacPharlain, being ignorant of the practical merits of Highland pipe music, admits that, like many more, he has made a grave error in saying that there are nine notes in the Highland Bagpipe chanter scale. As he lacks the necessary knowledge, he is led by ignorant men, and falls into the same trap as they do. Having admitted that he has aired, and, what is more to the point, being wrong and unqualified in the art with which he only tampers as an inexperienced master, is it not the case that I have gained another victory over him, and won other point?

I would inform your correspondent that I am strict in my remarks, as in my knowledge of the art with which ideal, and I tell him that there are neither Fahs, Sols nor Tahs in Highland Bagpipe music. The Highland Bagpipe chanter scale is A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A, in the scale of A Major, and the notes which can be produced of the Bagpipe chanter are G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A. Your correspondent says that my way of putting down the bagpipe chanter scale is absurd. I say that it is correct, and challenge him to dispute it. It is not necessary to have every note of the chanter, or its scale, in one tune. This again proves ignorance in Highland pipe music.

Your correspondent says that I should have read his article, in which he deals with the scale. Sir, what benefit was I to derive from reading an article from the pen of a man who does not know what the chanter scale is? As your space is always taxed, I have only dealt with points of vital importance, and in conclusion I would congratulate your correspondent, Mr. A. MacPherson. If there were more like him there would be fewer like Mr. MacPharlain. Mr. MacPherson is a genuine admirer of the pipe in its music; he has practical knowledge, and he is a patriotic Highland piper who is not afraid to add his stone to the cairn of justice.–I am, etc.,

John Grant