OT: 12 February 1927 – Gleannach [“Toarluath and Crunluath”]

The Oban Times, 12 February, 1927

[Toarluath and Crunluath]

Glencona, Inverness, 22 January, 1927

Sir,–Referring to letters in the issue of your paper for 15th inst., it is by no means uninteresting to find this matter turning up again. It is very desirable, as Mr. Macpherson says, to place all that is in dispute beyond doubt, and it does not look as if a satisfactory conclusion to the controversy has yet been reached. This, perhaps, is not to be wondered at in all the circumstances of the case. With the best intentions possible the disputants have been busy hammering away, somewhat, I beg leave to think, ignorant of all that is involved.

As a matter of fact there were played by the ancient masters two separate movements exactly the same as the “Toarluath” of modern times, except that one of them contains one note more than the other. Neither of those is known by any name that can be identified with “Toarluath,” which seems to have been a much less important movement at one time than the name now carries–the two movements referred to have distinct names of their own, and they are both found associated with the “Crunluath” as required. It would appear to me that there has been some confusion as between these two old movements and the “Toarluath” of modern players.

Then as to the spelling of bagpipe music terms I am pleased to see Mr. Macpherson expressing himself as he does in this connection. Many, to say the least, present-day terms are entirely wrong, if not indeed misleading to a certain extent. I pointed this out in your columns some time ago. I have since satisfied myself that I was then on the right track. That “Toarluath” and “Crunluath” are by no means correct can easily be seen by reference to Irish harp music terms, from which undoubtedly a good few bagpipe movements have been derived. All this–and much more–shall be cleared up by a brief study of the forthcoming reprint of Joseph MacDonald’s famous “Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe,” now I am glad to be able to say, fast nearing issue.–I am, etc.,