OT: 7 August 1937 – Malcolm MacInnes “Piobaireachd Society’s Publications”

The Oban Times, 7 August, 1937

Piobaireachd Society’s Publications


Highland Club, Inverness, 26 July, 1937

Sir,–As I have said so often, every tune presents a problem. The manuscripts of the “Lament for the Union had apparently baffled Thomason, who seems to have been quite lost in the melody, and impressed the Piobaireachd Society editors, who, it appears, are unable to find an explanation of the structure of the tune. In this case I can state that without the possibility of a doubt, the tune is a plain adaptation of a Gaelic air–the [sic] manipulated to suit the pipe and the pibroch. The air is one of our best, and has not yet been spoiled by the “Collector”–unless MacDonald’s use of it may be so considered.

The air is quite regular–four lines of four beats each for the chorus–which is the part taken for the ground; four lines of four beats each for the verse; and a quiet four lines of four beats each the without words–the air of being a lullaby. The last lot are quite suitable for a Siubhal movement as they stand. Here are the first lines of each part:

B C: A¹ (high) F: F E C: C B
C E: F F: E E C: C
A A: C C: C C B: C

As to the structure of this pibroch, it seems impossible to say anything if accurate values are not given in the M.S. each note. And, further, if the piper deliberately altered the timing of the song, and it is known exactly how he finished it, what right has anyone to apply rules?

Gesto is unaware of the origin of the tune–which shows he did not have the confidence of the pipers; and of course he was not of the class that lived this life of music.

As to the grandiloquent name given to it, I think the change from the words of simple herding is in the nature of a desecration.

All this points to the urgency that I am pressing–the publication of all the M.S. available. A fund ought to be opened immediately, the world over, with the representative collectors. This would be the only fitting memorial to the musical geniuses to whom we owe so much–the MacCrimmons, MacDonald, the Mackays, Camerons, MacPhersons, Gillies, MacColl, and the rest.

I am, etc.,

Malcolm MacInnes