OT: 5 July 1930 – Somerled MacDonald “Taorluadh and Crunluadh Movements in Piobaireachd”

The Oban Times, 5 July, 1930

Taorluadh and Crunluadh Movements in Piobaireachd

Inverness, 25 June, 1930

Sir,–Some time ago Mr. Simon Fraser, of Australia, suggested that the teachers of Piobaireachd in this country were misleading their pupils by teaching them to play “Taorluadh” and “Crunluadh” without the superfluous A.

Mr. Simon Fraser claims to have been a pupil of Bruce’s, but the Bruces are not such a very old story as he seems to think. I have known at least three pupils of Bruce’s. Not only that, but I have judged in competitions in which Bruce pupils competed, and, I say emphatically, that they did not put in the superfluous A. Mr. Fraser says he has never been challenged, but he is challenge now.

I am quite aware that Bruce (like many another) wrote “Taorluadh” with the superfluous A, he having copied the tunes out of Donald MacDonald’s book, but he certainly did not play it so. MacDonald wrote his “Taorluadh” with the superfluous A in order that it could be played upon any instrument (see his preface). Surely no man has misled the pipers more than MacDonald, unconsciously, of course. At the time when his book was published no pipers could read music of any kind, and probably very few could speak English, much less read it. They copied it out laboriously, and simply looked upon this group of notes as a symbol for Taorluadh, got into the habit of setting down the big notes first and filling out the spaces with the grace- notes. This “habit” of writing “Taorluadh” continued till about the end of last century, with the result that I do not think there are any pipers to-day over sixty years of age who have not at one time or another written “Taorluadh” with the superfluous A, although never in their lives have they played it so.

I think it would be well if some of those pipers of the first-class who had in their youth written “Taorluadh” with the superfluous A should in some way record this, as otherwise their names will go down to posterity as having used the superfluous A. For example, I see that the late William MacLennan is already quoted as having played the superfluous A. I am fortunately able to prove that he did not.–I am, etc.,

Somerled McDonald