OT: 23 January 1937 – A. Macpherson “Angus MacKay and Piobaireachd”

The Oban Times, 23 January, 1937

Angus MacKay and Piobaireachd

 Inveran Hotel, Invershin, 16 January, 1937

Sir,–I have read with much interest the letters which appeared in your recent columns from the pens of Mr. John Grant and “Hebridean.”

He would be a fool indeed who would doubt Angus Mackay’s ability as a performer and collector of bagpipe music. No man has a greater regard for Angus Mackay’s abilities than I have but to compare him with the MacCrimmons of Skye is ridiculous, for the probability is that, were it not for the MacCrimmons, Angus MacKay would never have been heard of. An even greater Mackay than Angus was John Dail Mackay (Piobair Dail) of Gairloch, for whom, so far as I am aware, no monument has ever been corrected, and if such a course were mooted, he should be the first Mackay to be honoured.

It was always the considered opinion of the great past masters of piobaireachd, that Ceol Mor, presented in book form, was the beginning of bad piobaireachd playing, and I firmly believe that although books of Ceol Mor were never written, the piobaireachd would still have lived and been handed down in a traditional and better form.

In our own day we have piobaireachd printed by the Piobaireachd Society in a way preferable to anything that has preceded it, and still, without the master hand from the traditional school, the pupil who wants to learn piobaireachd from it is as helpless as those who have tried to learn piobaireachd from Angus Mackay’s works.

It is quite evident to those of the older school that Angus MacKay’s book on piobaireachd contains many mistakes, but let us be honest and admit that they were not his mistakes, but those of the printer, as Angus Mackay himself never played much of what is in this book, such as, for instance, the superfluous or redundant A in the toarluath and crunluath movements.

I am, etc.,

A. MacPherson