OT: 6 March 1926 – George S. McLennan [“Toarluath and Crunluath in Piobaireachd”]

The Oban Times, 6 March, 1926

  [Toarluath and Crunluath in Piobaireachd]
Aberdeen, 1 March, 1926

 Sir,–I shall be obliged if you will grant me a small space in your popular paper to reply to the letter of Mr. John Grant in your issue of the 27th ult.

I have to thank Mr. Grant for his kindly reference to my father, and I am glad to know they were such friends in spite of their opposite views. I am rather afraid Mr. Grant has made a mistake in understanding my father to have said that he was taught Toarluath and Crunluath with redundant low A. He was not, and that is the reason it is omitted from all his writings. Mr. Grant further says that he and my father got there piping from the same source. Surely this is not correct. Anyhow, my father has often stated from what source his piping came; so far as I am aware, Mr. Grant never has. I may assure Mr. Grant that the redundant low A in Toarluath and Crunluath does not appear anywhere in my father’s MSS., and I never at any time knew him to write it.

In referring to the “Piobaireachd as MacCrimmon Played It,” Mr. Grant asks a number of questions regarding the way the Crunluath is written in certain tunes, and then says:–” In all these instances, Lieut. McLennan gave the Crunluath movements in what is traditionally known as Crunluath-Mach.” The controversy is on Toarluath and Crunluath–Duinte or Dubailt, and the Mach movement is not in dispute. Would Mr. Grant say why he omits the redundant low A in Toarluath and Crunluath when writing these notes from D?

Mr. Grant is absolutely wrong and taking it that I “prefer to play these movements, making an ugly heavy G to cut a beautiful low A.” I make no more low G’s than Mr. Grant; but, like all other properly-taught pipers, I simply do not play a redundant low A. It is somewhat surprising to find Mr. Grant giving it as his opinion that low G is an ugly note. I am of opinion that there is no note of the pipe chanter ugly except when fingered by an incompetent performer.–I am, etc.,

Geo. S. McLennan