The Oban Times, 11 October, 1930
Sheffield, September 30, 1930
Sir,–Your correspondent, A. MacPherson, is too severe in his belittling of Dr. MacCrimmon’s suggestion that no prizes should be given “to the best performance of MacCrimmon Piobaireachd to commemorate the occasion.” Can we not have of the very best for once without the gift of a medal or money in honour of the old school of piping.
In the study of any classical music a person of musical taste is at once struck with the rare beauty of the works of the old masters who never played for prizes. They were possessed of the highest ideals; and, judging from their music, soared above the heads of the people. Regard for those musicians of the past should inspire us to follow their example.
It has been said that the art of piobaireachd composition is dead. The essentials of the true artiste are well nigh foreign to the Highland piper of to-day; indeed, I would go further and say that the piper of to-day has not the musical sense that these men had. They interpreted something, and we to-day only copy that interpretation.
The notes A and G of any pipe are the basic notes, and it appears to me that redundant A would be better styleed grace A, for the beat without redundant A lacks depth. But I suppose competitors in future will play but two A’s to keep in line with their judges. Yet, again, one competitor at Inverness and Oban this year secured a place in piobaireachd with the redundant A.
What has Mr. MacPherson to say to that? Do the judges themselves know the difference? Dr. MacCrimmon and I were pupils under Pipe-Major MacDougall Gillies for years, and I do not think any piper will take on himself to say that Gillies did not know piobaireachd. MacCrimmon is the only man I have yet met who gave me a sane account of the origin of the canntaireachd, and I know he has studied the pipe music of other lands.–I am, etc.,