OT: 13 September 1924 – Crunluath “The Prince’s Salute”

The Oban Times, 13 September, 1924

The Prince’s Salute

Johannesburg, 19th August, 1924

Sir,-In his letter of 10th July Mr. MacKay says I inadvertently misquoted him and that he does not contend that the tune is wrong, but that it has lost much of its attractiveness. I am sorry if I have misquoted, but if I have done so I think the use of the term “grave error” in the original letter is sufficient excuse.

As to the whole tune being out of gear, my view is that the symmetry of the tune depends on each part being in keeping with the others, and that if one part is wrong then the whole is out of gear. I only mention this as Mr. MacKay seems to make a point of calling the parts he wishes to alter being out of gear.

Now as to the suggested alteration, from the lines given I see that Mr. MacKay’s idea is to cut out what I consider to be main notes of the melody, although he said nothing of this in his original letter, in order to keep each part of equal time value and at the same time preserve the cadences. It seems to me that the Taorluath follows the ground faithfully that to cut out these notes mars the melody. Certainly as published the bars with cadences are greater time value than the others, but is this not a peculiarity of Piobaireachd? After all it is not so very long since the ‘45, and considering the careful way in which Piobaireachd has been, and still is, taught, why should we assume that those through whom it has come down to us have not passed it on exactly as they themselves received it. The great Dr. Johnson must have heard Piobaireachd during his tour and in his dictionary defined it as “irregular music.”

I was under the impression that Mr. MacKay had made a discovery in the way of some ancient manuscript when he referred to the change in the tunes since the’45, but from his letter of 10th July I gather that the transposition of the notes is his own idea and is what he considers the correct way of getting over what seems to him in error. I quite agree that all this should be thoroughly ventilated in your columns and am looking forward to what others may have to say on the subject. –I am, etc.,