OT: 23 July 1927 – D. Munro “The Redundant ‘A’ Speaking”

The Oban Times, 23 July, 1927

The Redundant “A” Speaking

96 Charlotte Street, London, W.1, 13 July, 1927

Sir,–I have read with much interest the various discussions that have appeared from time to time in your valuable newspaper regarding the Highland bagpipe and how certain notes should be played. To hear all the different opinions I used to weary for the “Oban Times,” and look most anxiously for Toarluadh and Crunluadh on the famous redundant A. If the poor wee redundant A could speak what would it say–

“I am getting crushed out of existence. As times have changed, it has been ever so bad for me. I remember the day when I used to be in every music book until the latest authors came along and told me ever so politely how this redundant A your service is no longer required as we have never used you, and we do not want our pupils to know you, and for certain we will not introduce you to any of them. I quite naturally felt very sad, and begged to be allowed to ask a few questions. I said I was used by all the MacCrimmons, and surely if I was used by Patrick MacCrimmon and John Dall Mackay I was quite good enough for the present-day piper.

I was told it was very questionable if any of those great performers ever used me in any shape or form, but still I was not satisfied, and I asked–” how can you possibly do Toarluadh without me?” It was thus explained to me, the toarluadh if properly done should be G grace note on low A, close the chanter which is low G, then sound D grace note, still sounding low G when you raise the little finger put on E grace note. And so you see there is only one A required. I have to confess it was well done and sounded most beautiful, but I was told, although some pipers try to do without me, still I get a look in when they are not expecting me, be it ever so slight. I know of some who are not so very good on the Lohan, or perhaps I should say not solid enough, and I get slipped in between the G and E grace note. I admit it is very slight, but if they do not want me it is absolutely necessary to be as solid as possible on the low hand, otherwise it is impossible to get rid of me.

However I have still a great many supporters. You can see for yourselves I am a special favourite of Angus Mackay’s; he must have known me perfectly well, so did his forefathers, but I am told although I appear in Mackay’s book that great genius never used me in actual playing; and, furthermore, that the book contains a few errors. That may be the case, but all music books have errors more or less; may I say printers errors. Now I think I have said enough about me being a redundant A, and if the majority are against me, perhaps the modern piper will still use me.”–I am, etc.,

D. Munro