OT: 27 March 1926 – Angus MacPherson [“Toarluath and Crunluath and Piobaireachd”]

The Oban Times, 27 March, 1926

[Toarluath and Crunluath and Piobaireachd]

Inveran Hotel, Invershin, Sutherlandshire, 18 March, 1926

Sir,–I did not intend taking part in this discussion, but having had several letters from the younger and rising generation of pipers asking me whether I play the above movements as Mr. John Grant maintains they should be done I feel that in justice to the cause I must again crave your courtesy and reply to my young friends through the medium of your valuable paper.

Let me say at once that I certainly do not put any redundant low A in my Toarluadh and Crunluadh, nor have I ever heard a properly taught piper who did; indeed I can hardly believe that Mr. Grant himself does either, for, to a musical ear, the performance would sound grotesque and meaningless. Pipe-Major G.S. MacLennan in his letter of 20th February put the matter in a nutshell when he said that Toarluadh and Crunluadh, like many other notes, were written as they were not played; taught pipers, however, knew what was intended, and the thing passed at that.

Like Pipe-Major MacLennan, I to know many pipers who through sheer force of habit still write the redundant low A although they never play it. I did not get my Toarluadh and Crunluadh from Angus Mackay’s book, a book which I think is still the leading medium, nor from any other book, but from one who got Toarluadh and Crunluadh from Angus Mackay’s fingers and practising chanter, and who in like manner handed it down to me. If the Piobaireachd Society in their new publication were as correct in everything as in what is recorded about the redundant low A their book would be a masterpiece, but is it? Take, for instance, the Crunluadh on “The Battle of the Pass of Crieff.” It is like the Crunluadh “Fosgailte Mach,” no Crunluadh at all.

I hold nothing but admiration for the Piobaireachd Society in their noble and worthy intentions, but in launching out on their uncharted mission it would, I think have been to their advantage if they had summoned to a round table conference five or seven traditionally taught pipers to be balloted for by recognised pipers and men of musical ability, and when I use the words “recognised pipers” I do not mean men who simply blow pipes.–I am, etc.,

Angus Macpherson