OT: 14 June 1930 – Kintail “Piping Notation”

The Oban Times, 14 June, 1930

Piping Notation

26 May, 1930

Sir,–A statement made by your correspondent, A. K. Cameron, last week has attracted my attention. In talking of bell-ringing Mr. Cameron goes on to say that the “modern form of the Taorluadh is wrong. See Lieut. MacLennan’s and the Piobaireachd Society’s notations for these movements.”

I wish to point out (and I do not think anyone has pointed this out before) that when Angus MacKay compiled his book he had a musician to help him with the notation and others with the literary part. Thus, to get the effect of a Taorluadh on, say, a pianoforte, three notes would have to be struck. This, of course, holds good for the present day. Now, Angus MacKay did his best to give us what he knew, and he “hopes the public will treat with leniency any defects that may be perceived” (see preface).

Now, if Mr. Cameron will turn to “The Bells of Perth” in Angus MacKay’s book again and study the third variation (Taorluadh) he will notice that there are three low A’s to every beat until the beat on D. What happens here? Angus MacKay was probably troubled as to how to write it. But he solved the problem by making his B gracenote a melody note and coming straight to low A with his E gracenote. Now, if Mr. Cameron will take this beat on D and turn the B melody note into a demi-semi-quaver and turn it out with the others, he will find a Taorluadh exactly as it is played to-day, and also as written first by Lieut. MacLennan. Moreover, in every D beat in Angus MacKay’s book, whether it is Leumlugh (see “Chisholm’s Salute,” second variation), Taorluadh or Crunluadh, he will find the same “error” which gives us the true solution.–I am, etc.,