OT: 27 April 1929 – Alasdair Og [“Ancient Piobaireachds”]

The Oban Times, 27 April, 1929

[Ancient Piobaireachds]

 Glasgow, 13 April, 1929

 Sir,–In Edinburgh, at the beginning of last century there were gathered together a very select body of literary critics known as the “Edinburgh Review Men.” The greatest of these, Francis, Lord Jeffrey, was said to be “harsh and overbearing in his criticisms and very conservative in his theories.” To my mind, Mr. Grant, in his efforts to criticize piobaireachd playing is emulating Jeffrey.

I think my analogy will be quite clear to all–Mr. Grant’s theory of the performance of Toarluath and Crunluath to Jeffrey’s theory of poetic criticism, when he wrote “The standards of poetry were fixed long ago by certain inspired writers whose authority it is no longer lawful to call in question.”

One of the supports of Mr. Grant’s theory is that we pipers ought not to call Angus Mackay in question over the matter of playing as written, or otherwise, certain groups of notes, “the crowning movements in ancient piobaireachd.” Mr. Grant also writes, “These movements require… a good deal of study to see through them,” and that “Any piper who does not play Toarluath and Crunluath as Angus Mackay wrote it, must be playing it correctly as noted and unaware of the fact, or if otherwise, he is unskilled in the performance of the crowning movement in ancient piobaireachd.” I, together with many other readers of the “Oban Times,” fail to comprehend him, and would be grateful for an explanation of this precise sentence. Note also, his last statement, “the genuine MacCrimmon method will never die!”

It would be well that Mr. Grant appear at the Oban Gathering in September. I shall be there to watch and to listen. –I am, etc.,

Alasdair Og