APC Approach 1: Glengarry’s March – Learning the Taorluath Gearr

Taorluath Gearr – a very tricky subject.

Today, it is routinely performed like this:

However, in Hannay-MacAuslan and Donald MacDonald, it is written like this:

You could say that you see how their scores may reflect an early mistake in notation. After all, MacKay, about 20 years later, wrote it as follows and it certainly looks like evidence that this species of taorluath should be played as short triplet to longer theme note:

But there are two problems with this conclusion.  First is: Joseph MacDonald writes it in the same way, and he is no slouch when it comes to capturing rhythm.  He calls it, “a most Martial and Beautiful Executions…”

Not definitive, but interesting.

The second problem is – both the anonymous transcriber and Donald MacDonald are perfectly capable of identifying and notating triplets:

In addition, in Salute to Young George, the taorluath gearr is very interesting: while it may be possible to play this as a triplet, it is very awkward. And when you try to play it up to today’s speed, it is, in fact, impossible to play.

These two problems might suggest that the taoluath gearr was not performed the way we think it was, necessarily.  William Donaldson and Allan MacDonald have both suggested otherwise in other contexts.

I’m not sure what I think.  I am more inclined to play it rather straight-forward, very percussively and driven. Some rhythmic imbalance exists, due to wanting to place a bit more emphasis on certain notes in the phrase, so it is not deadly, woodenly consistent.  Something in between a triplet and what they are suggesting.

Again, this is idiosyncratic.  But what is just as important: the score itself is surprisingly unexpected in its ambiguity.  The silver lining is: it offers the performer a chance to interpret and bring new insight into this motion and cycle.

Here’s what I’ve done.  What do you think?


More to follow…


3 thoughts on “APC Approach 1: Glengarry’s March – Learning the Taorluath Gearr

  1. Well,

    This reply was sent along by Allan Speedy (of silverchanter fame).


    I’m still not sure about how to read these Taorluath Gear(r).  If we give a slight hold to the end note of each 4-note phrase, that would explain how it became triplet by the time of MacKay (and, as Allan S shared with me offline, then became more speedy as the influence of light music made its impact).

    Ideally, honestly, it should be up to the discretion of the performer.  One day, even competitors should be allowed to come up and say, “I’m playing these taorluaths in the following fashion,” and be given a fair hearing.

  2. How about this? Mainly played as written, not as triples, but with plenty of accelerando and ritardando, particularly in the singling. In the doubling a much faster tempo than might be usual. I quite like the effect.



  3. Wow.  Just found this.

    Coming to the conclusion that Peter Reid is our most overlooked, under-rated and precious resource for early 19th century pibroch performances.

    Note his instructions: “distinct – Running”, and then “smart”

    This might be enough of a clue to support William’s and Allan (Speedy’s) ideas, moreso than how I played it…


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