OT: 22 September 1923 – C.G.G. “The Piobaireachd”

The Oban Times, 22 September, 1923

The Piobaireachd

15 September 1923

Sir,–May I ask you of your courtesy to allow one who is neither a musician nor a Celtic scholar, but who takes a modest interest in these subjects to make a few remarks on the interesting article on the Argyllshire Gathering in your issue of September 15.

The bagpipe is an instrument common to all parts of Scotland, to Ireland, and to some continental countries, but the ancient music known as the Piobaireachd is entirely peculiar to the Highlands. These compositions were inspired by dramatic incidents, of which they are commemorative or descriptive, and were named accordingly in the language of their composers. But in mentioning the tunes played by competitors their real names are not given at all, but only an English translation. Is this fair to the composers or to their compositions? Presumably this is done for the benefit of our visitors from the South, and had the translation been in addition it would have been harmless; but if the original name is left out it will soon be entirely forgotten.

The Games were started not for the visitors, welcome as their presence is, but for the inhabitants of Lorn and the surrounding districts, where the language of the vast majority is Gaelic.

There is another matter I should like to mention. Girls are now being encouraged to compete in the sword dance, a manly and warlike exercise, which lends itself–as does the Highland Fling–to an exhibition of masculine vigour and agility rather than to a display of the feminine grace, which is so attractive in women –I am, etc.,