openly about emending tunes? Whether or not, well done to him. Having the courage to challenge what was presented to him was commendable, even though some of his ideas haven’t caught on.We have no qualms about having different settings of light music; perhaps we are too precious about piobaireachd. Thomason’s emendations were not universally accepted. His best known success was his tidying up of the score for I got a Kiss of the King’s Hand, where he used his structural analysis and score format to show that Angus MacKay’s version was missing a bar in line one of the variations. I don’t believe anyone would nowadays play Angus MacKay’s version and the General’s correction is universally played. In his own time,
Junior was born in Kensington Palace in 1845 and educated at the Caledonian School in London, his father having moved to London as piper to HRH Duke of Sussex. Donald Junior was a pupil of John Ban MacKenzie and Donald Cameron. The poor opinions of Donald
‘. . . he must have
CST was mainly praised for collecting and stimulating ideas, yet criticised for abbreviations and amending tunes. He has been criticised too for relying too much on Donald MacKay, who in some quarters was not perceived as a respected authority. But Donald MacKay, nephew of Angus, won the Northern Meeting Prize pipe and the FormerWinners’ medal, equivalent of modern Gold Medal and Clasp. This Donald Mackay was the son of Donald MacKay, the eldest son of John MacKay of Raasay and brother of the great Angus. There are suggestions that some considered Donald Senior as the best piper of John MacKay’s four sons.He won the Edinburgh competition in 1822. He was also a good pipemaker. Donald
MacKay may have reflected prejudice – he was not a Gaelic speaker, having been brought up in London. General Thomason says in Ceol Mor: ‘Whatever I have of piping capacity I owe to Donald MacKay, whose stock of piobaireachdan as a pupil of Donald Cameron, not to mention the Ballindalloch collection, seemed inexhaustible.’ We should note
realised what a great leap forward he had made . . .’
that CST also took advice and help from many other eminent players, notably Sandy
Cameron, younger brother of Donald, Donald’s sons, and particularly Keith Cameron, highly regarded as a player and a contemporary of CST in India,where he served with the 2nd Battalion HLI.
Well, there’s still quite a bit we
could say about General Charles Thomason, but I’ll close this section with a couple of comments. I am very impressed that General Thomason acknowledges that his system can be improved and hopes it will be. That indicates to me a certain quality of intellect and character – he must have realised what a great leap forward he had made, but even then appreciated it could be better and wanted someone to take it on further.