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College Lecture

Secondly, if we want some concrete support for the impact of CST’s work, Archibald Campbell, Kilberry, said he had never heard theWee Spree played before CST published it in Ceol Mor. We know John MacDougall Gillies didn’t play it and it wasn’t one of Alick Cameron’s tunes – hard to believe now when it is such a staple of the repertoire. Our first tune this evening is

Black Donald’s March, a straightforward, melodic piece, of secondary construction, that is to say it starts with two short phrases, just one bar each in this case, usually termed A and B, then a longer phrase C, double the length of the first two phrases, with a further long phrase completing line 1. Line 2 starts with phrase C, then back to the first two phrases,but in reverse order,B then A, again closing the line with phrase D. Line three has phrases C and D, with slight alterations. This is an excellent example of a

tune where theme and structure run right through the variations making it perfect for the CST approach. The General could put the whole tune on one of his small pages! Brilliant! Each ‘verse’ from urlar to crunluath a mach, has same theme notes and structure. It’s the sort of piece where once in

the CST format, the structure is clear as day. Although Kilberry portrays it in common time, CST and Donald MacDonald have it in 6/8, which is my preference. Why am I enthusiastic about pio-

baireachd? I enjoy playing it, listening to it, talking about it, studying it, trying to compose it, but, I struggled


as a teenager with it. Later, when I was a medical student,my father wor- ked hard with me at MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart. Until then I played piobaireachd essentially by rote, but once I had the hang of MacCrim- mon’s Sweetheart, it gave me a start and I began to enjoy the music. Next dad took me through the Groat, which I loved, and the Viscount of Dundee,wonderful. I don’t think our father was a great theorist with piobaireachd, but he was an excellent piper and he definitely transmitted his passion for piping, including piobair- eachd. In that respect, I might regard myself and my brother as a living piping legacy of our father.The same, of course, applies in many families.

Great Experience What makes listening to

piobaireachd a great experience?We can again turn to Archibald Camp- bell, Kilberry (ACK): ‘It is certainly difficult music to understand, but in a well played piobaireachd on a well- tuned pipe, sounds can be produced which are never heard in marches, strathspeys or reels, and which satisfy the ear of a skilled piping musician in a way that no other sounds can do.’ For myself, superb performances of piobaireachd become a transcendental experience, which lasts long in the memory and I would also agree with Kilberry that a fine performance of piobaireachd exceeds anything in light music.Thirty years ago listening to Donald MacPherson playing Lament for Padruig Og MacCrim- mon at the Argyllshire Gathering trumped anything light music offered, even P/M Angus MacDonald in full

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