OT: 9 June 1923 – Malcolm MacInnes “The Desperate Battle”

The Oban Times, 9 June, 1923

The Desperate Battle

Points in Pibroch

Drumfearn, Isle of Skye, 30th May, 1923

Sit–In the rough mimic chant of the pipers, the ground [ed. first line only] of “The Desperate Battle” may be put thus:–

Hayi heehee hayi hiri hayi hay/hah brah
Hayi heehee hayi hiri hayi hay ho bro
Hayi heehee hayi hiri hayi hay hun drun
Hayi heehee hayi hiri hayi hay hun drun

The strange point is the identity of the third and fourth lines–or the repetition of the third line; and I think it is not only strange but unique. The first line ends in C, the second in B, and the third (and fourth) in A. The first three alone satisfy the ear as a complete unit; and the fourth looks like the meditative repetition by the piper of the previous line, mistaken by the noter for a part of the piece. The balance could also be restored by making the third line the same as the first (at least as far as the final note is concerned, this note, of course, being the critical one); but the rest of the tune points to the theory of mistaken repetition, as every variation is put into three phrases:–

Hahee trahee [sic] ho-ee ho-ee
Hahee hayee hahee hahee
Ho-ee hayee hahee ho-ee

Another puzzling point is the relation between the variations in the ground of “The Fingerlock.” In the second and third parts of the ground there is a most persistent run of the note E–eight bars in which E is the dominant note while in the variations (except one which is more or less of a freak) its place is taken by D–a dull note compared with the E. Is there an explanation?–

I am, etc.,

Malcolm MacInnes