OT: 20 August 1927 – Malcolm MacInnes “Styles of Pibroch Tunes”

The Oban Times, 20 August, 1927

Styles of Pibroch Tunes

 Drumfearn, Skye, 16 August, 1927

Sir,–Mr. Angus Macpherson’s letter suggests indirectly the most crying need in the style of pibroch–the collecting of the styles of the master players. We have lost MacDougall Gillies, and with him a wealth of musical knowledge that was seldom given if ever possessed by one person. A further but less important step would be the selection by a committee of competent pipers of the styles considered best. The extreme difficulty of this task is shown at once by the single point mentioned by Mr. MacPherson–the relation of the variations to the ground. He insists on rigid uniformity. This ought certainly to be the general rule, and some exceptions seem needless, as in “Landed my King” and some seem totally bad as in the last bar of the first line of the doubling of the first variation of MacSwan of Ruag in the volume of the Piobaireachd Society where D and B change places in the first and second beats. But would Mr. MacPherson e.g. put E instead of D in the variations of the Finger Lock so as to follow the ground–BA: EA: BA: BA instead of BA: DA, etc.? Or would he reject the F in the variations of the “Lament for Glengarry” seeing that the F in the ground is a mere passing note? I think the test ought, within limits to be the sound and not conformity to the ground; but there is clearly a case for the appointment of a committee.–I am, etc.,

Malcolm MacInnes