OT: 20 February 1926 – Angus MacPherson “Piobaireachd”

The Oban Times, 20 February, 1926


Inveran Hotel, Invershin, 10 February, 1926

Sir,–I have read with much interest the most excellent review given in your issue of 6th February, of the Piobaireachd Society’s new publication. It is quite evident that the writer knows his subject from A to Z, or, in other words, from Ground to Crunluath A Mach. There is much in the new book to commend it to all pipers and lovers of piobaireachd, and I am sure it will have a wide circulation.

I am glad to note that the writer, in his review, has asked a direct question with regard to the Crunluadh a Mach variation given on three tunes–”The Groat,” “The Big Spree,” and “The Viscount of Dundee’s Lament.” He quite correctly says that this is not the genuine Crunluadh a Mach movement at all, but simply the doubling of a “Crunluadh Fosgailte,” and asks if there is any ancient authority for this departure.

More than once, Sir, I had the privilege, through your courtesy, to give my opinion in your valuable paper upon the same question, and I said then, as I say now, that there is absolutely no traditional authority for such a departure. This is a fact which cannot be confuted, and now that an abler pen than mine has taken up the subject, one would expect the Piobaireachd Society to have this gross infringement upon traditional piobaireachd removed and corrected in a book which most likely will be handed down as a standard work. The Piobaireachd Society, quite legitimately, may ask for my authority as proof of what I say. Well then, I do not think I could do better than refer them to their own publication, page 32, at the bottom of which it is noted–”That no symbol for such a variation can be found in Canntaireachd.”

Could there be any more convincing proof when, for the Crunluadh a Mach proper, the symbol can be found and is given as for all other movements in piobaireachd? It must always be remembered that were it not for the Canntaireachd, a fact which the Piobaireachd Society has done will [well] in publishing, we would not have the piobaireachd at all. I noticed from the publication that this so-called “Crunluadh a Mach” is put down to the credit of the late Donald Cameron. In doing so, I do not think that the Piobaireachd Society has paid a complement to his memory and undoubted ability, for such a variation cannot be found even in Donald Cameron’s own manuscript book of piobaireachd, which I had the pleasure and privilege of consulting, nor in any other book ever written prior to the formation of the Piobaireachd Society. No doubt Donald Cameron, like all other learned pipers of his day, played the “Crunluadh Fosgailte” open or with the grip, according to his own taste or that which best appealed to his hearers; but to say that in competition he would play a Singling and Doubling with the grip and then tack on an open Doubling and call it a “Crunluadh a Mach” is not what I would expect nor care to believe of the man. According to traditional teaching, there is only one “Crunluadh a Mach” in piobaireachd, and to attempt to put it on a “Crunluadh Fosgailte” or a “Crunluadh Breabach” is attempting the impossible. Had the Piobaireachd Society noted that the “Crunluadh Fosgailte” would be accepted as correct if played with the grip or open, that was all that was required.

Let me assure your readers that I make the statements not in a spirit of arrogance, but with the desire–as I am sure it also is the desire of the Piobaireachd Society–that the piobaireachd be preserved in handed down in its traditional form.–I am, etc.,

Angus Macpherson