OT: 19 October 1929 – The Pibrochs of MacCrimmon and Others (Review of Ross Collection)

The Oban Times, 19 October, 1929

The Pibrochs of MacCrimmon and Others

 Since General Thomason’s work, Ceol Mor, published in 1900, and already so rare as to be almost priceless, there have been few publications of piobaireachd except those issued by the Piobaireachd Society. It is therefore pleasant to welcome Mr. G. F. Ross’s collection of twenty-six tunes, which has just been published. The piobaireachd enthusiast will play over the tunes in Mr. Ross’s collection on his chanter, and will welcome them in a friendly spirit of criticism, because the piobaireachd world is nothing if not critical.

In his introduction Mr. Ross quotes General Thomason’s advice-

“Avoid dawdling and monotony and play a Lament as a Lament, a Salute as a Salute, a Lullaby as a Lullaby.”

and inclines to the belief that the tendency today is to play all piobaireachd as laments. This is sound the criticism. At the Argyllshire Gathering this year a well-known piper ruined his chances by playing his tune far too slow. Mr. Ross believes that there is loss of rhythm these days, and that this loss is caused above all by the over dwelling on the E of the GED cadence, and the rushing of the double beat on A. He writes, “When seeking for the rhythmic swaying of the tune, find the rhythm of the double beat on A by the omission of the cadence. It will be found that the three A’s must be distinctly heard to complete the rhythm, and the insertion of a correctly played cadence before the beat will not upset it. It should be observed that when the double beat on A is followed by a long A to complete the bar, the rhythm of a tune will generally demand the longest accent on the one A of the double beat, rather than on the last.”

Mr. Ross writes on the Crunluadh (or, as he refers to call it, Creanludh) as follows–” Were the player to observe the axiom that the doubling of the E is based on the second note of the beat he would not be likely to go far wrong. In the ordinary closed form, the second note of the beat is A, in spite of recent endeavours to proclaim it a redundant note, consequently the doubling of the E is based on A.” Here the compiler of the volume is treating of a highly controversial subject, but his remarks, simple and lucid as they are, cannot but be read with interest. There is one disappointing feature of the volume, and that is there is no authority quoted for the versions of the tunes which Mr. Ross publishes.

New Version

In his preface Mr. Ross writes,–”I would particularly recommend the version of the “Bells of Perth” here given, a version not hitherto published, and one far more likely to be correct than those already before the public. The version of the” Lament for Hector Roy MacLean” also is a better one then those already published.” As a matter of fact, the majority of the tunes in the volume have rather different settings to those published in Ceol Mor, or published by the Piobaireachd Society, and perhaps Mr. Ross, in his second edition (for no doubt the first edition will be quickly bought up by the many lovers of piobaireachd) will mention the authorities for his settings.

Some of the piobaireachd published in this new book are, the Lament for the Earl of Antrim, the Battle of Vaternish, the Cave of Gold, the Lament for the Children, Lord Ross’s Lament, Scarce Fishing, I got a Kiss of the King’s Hand, Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon, MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart, the Lament for Mary MacLeod, War or Peace, and the Lament for Iain Garbh of Raasay.

The volume is well got up, and the tunes are excellently printed.


“A Collection of MacCrimmon and other Piobaireachd,” compiled and arranged by G. F. Ross, Calcutta. Published on behalf of the compiler by Peter Henderson, Ltd.,

24 Renfrew Street, Glasgow, 1929. Price 5-