OT: 25 September 1926 – John Grant “Toarluath and Crunluath”

The Oban Times, 25 September, 1926

 Toarluath and Crunluath

Edinburgh, 15 September, 1926

Sir,–In his letter in your issue of 11 inst. Mr. Malcolm MacInnes has thrown no light upon the technical mysteries of the above movements.

If Mr. A. K. Cameron has proved nothing, neither has Mr. MacInnes. Syllables in Gaelic poetry or songs, or Gesto’s “hoderit,” prove absolutely nothing whatever. Mr. MacInnes places great confidence in his own ear and to the fact that he has heard so many pipers play, but that is of no avail. The question is, can Mr. MacInnes play the Toarluath and Crunluath as Angus Mackay and many others played and wrote them? Angus Mackay wrote what he played, and what he played he got from the MacCrimmon School direct.

If Mr. MacInnes is a piper himself and he can play the groundwork of “Black Donald Balloch’s March to the Battle of Harlaw,” he will then have proof that the Toarluath on low A, for instance, can be played as Angus Mackay wrote it, and he will also be convinced that Toarluath-a-Mach on C can be played with three C’s, giving effect to the triplet group g d g as grace notes. The Toarluath-a-Mach on C is the same movement as the plain Toarluath on low A with the exception of pitch. Duration has gotten nothing to do with existence in the case of the disputed notes in the Toarluath and Crunluath movement. The disputed note is there be it ever so short.

To play the Toarluath slowly as written (incorrectly) by Piobaireachd Society gives four syllables, and no fingers that were ever placed upon the chanter can put a group of g d g, and also in e grace note on one A.

In the Toarluath on low A the old pipers graced the first A with a high g; they put a group of g d g grace notes upon the second A, and it stands to reason that they had to come to A again, and grace the third A with an e grace note.

I repeat that if the Toarluath and Crunluath movements cannot be played as written by Angus Mackay, then the triplet group of grace notes–g d g–must be cut out of pipe music altogether.–I am, etc.,

John Grant