OT: 14 June 1930 – Somerled MacDonald “Taorluadh & Crunluadh Movements in Piobaireachd”

The Oban Times, 14 June, 1930

Taorluadh & Crunluadh Movements in Piobaireachd

Inverness, 14 May, 1930

Sir,–The adherents of the superfluous A in “Taorluadh” and “Crunluadh” seem to have ignored the principle of playing all cuttings and strikes according to scale. You cannot have a cutting and a striking group the same scale–as MacKay has done in his scale of “Taorluadh.” He writes his “Taorluadh” group on D as a cutting, having the same notes as those played by the leading players up to-day. This group has therefore seven notes in all, and the remaining groups have all eight notes (of course, with the exception of the high A and low G). The groups off the low G and D are purely cuttings, and the rest in the same scale have a strike.

I think it was Mr. Grant who stated that MacKay wrote it as he intended it should be played. An explanation of this is required.

The two different styles of playing “Taorluadh,” viz., Our “Toarluadh” and Joseph McDonald’s “Iuludh,” are the only ones in scale and should therefore be the only two left in the argument, as they were fifty years ago. I have never yet discovered one single upholder of this group who could tell me the exact time to give to the A in question. Can anyone explain what is the exact time to give to the A?; Because, as far as I can make out, the adherents of it are divided amongst themselves as to this, some contending that the time given to the theme note should be cut somewhat shorter in order to allow the middle A to have a chance. Others of them hold that the theme note should be long and the superfluous A scarcely sounded. In fact, to give to the movement the same time as our side give to it.

In our “Taorluadh” and “Iuludh” the actual cutting itself consists of but one syllable, or rather, “crack” or “rattle” as Mr. MacInnes says. If there is a striking A introduced, then the actual beats must consist of two distinct syllables, and must therefore do away with the principle of drawing out at length the theme note. There is no use in trying to force a strike and a cutting together into one syllable.

This particular group, called “Riludh” by Joseph MacDonald, consists of two separate groups. The first group ends when the strike has taken place, and to this is added a cutting beat. When this group is played, the length of the middle note is at the discretion of the performer and must always be clearly sounded. If the first or theme notes in the group be played long as we do in “Toarluadh,” and the striking note be played so quickly that it is scarcely heard, then it becomes a useless slur.

There is no slur of this description in bagpipe music; no note is struck open and then cut with a grace note about it before it is fully sounded. I therefore contend that those who play “Taorluadh” and include the A must cut the theme note short, in which case they are playing a “Mach” beat.–I am, etc.,

Somerled MacDonald