OT: 23 October 1915 – Musæus

The Oban Times, 23 October, 1915

Sir,–Mr. Grant, in your widely-read paper of last week, states that the bagpipe chanter is in the scale of A major. Anyone can make a statement of that kind, but the point is to show clearly that it is no other. The chanter has two distinct scales–one from G to G with an extra note above, the other from A to A with extra note below. Which of the two, may I ask, is the correct one?

In Derrick’s “Images of Ireland,” we find a piper with a pipe much larger and wider than ours, under his arm, and the pitch of it must have been several notes below that of the present pipe.

The Elgin chanter has the high A nearly ten inches below the reed, and therefore must be flatter than the present. The drones of the MacLeod of Raasay pipe, found on Culloden Moor and sold in Edinburgh lately, have a much wider bore than any now in use, and while this is so, we have at least three ancient bagpipe music books written in D, i.e., D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E as being the notes then in use, and this will suggest whether D or E was then the proper scale. But to allege anything definite without giving us the vibrations of any special note with its relation to all the others, is simply meeting the wind.–I am, etc.,