Original Piobaireachd Society Series – Volume 2

The first volume’s publication was not a hit, by any means.  The competitive pipers rebelled against the requirement that they follow the published scores note-for-note: the living pibroch tradition was not, by any means, accurately captured by Angus MacKay’s printed scores.  In order to meet the strict standard set by the Society, many of the competitors opted not to compete at Inverness or Oban, and many of those who did could not successfully unlearn the tradition with which they had grown up.

Nevertheless, the Piobaireachd Society persisted in its insistence that the players perform according to the First Series printed scores.

In Volume 2, we see introduced a number of interesting new developments:

First, the editors purport  to have drawn from more than the Angus MacKay book.  Dr. Charles Bannatyne (the infamous vandal of the John MacKay MS) made available many of his manuscripts, including Angus MacArthur.  Cpt. Colin MacRae also contributed his John MacRa MSS.  In theory, we are seeing the beginnings of textual criticism that will come to define all later Piobaireachd Society publications. (In practice, it is entirely unclear to what extent the additional manuscripts, as well as feedback from professionals, were actually adopted.)

We also see introduced many of the typesetting tropes that are more familiar to the modern performer: edres (except in the traditional full crunluaths) and tripping cadences are now exclusively gracenote-style movements in the urlars.  The complete transition to later conventions has not yet taken place, however: odros, otros and darados continue to be written as theme-noted movements, very possibly suggestive that the performance of these motifs were far more open than currently played today.

The editors very explicitly address the question of Siubhal rhythms, preferring the emphasis on the first note.  (Ironically, this emphasis was immediately contracted in the very first score in the book.)

They also introduce 1/16th-noted triplets for the Taorluath gearr motions, something they had kept as 1/8th acc. to MacKay scores.

Finally, the score continues to maintain the traditional full-style taorluaths and crunluaths.

MacLeod of MacLeod’s Lament – The Urlar is a modernized typeset of Angus MacKay, transferring edres into gracenote movements, and removing E-candences from the main melodic line and representing them as a “tripping” gracenote movement.  Despite editorial opinion expressed in the Preface, this tune’s Siubhal is scored “up”, with thematic notes held after low-A 1/16th notes.

The Bells of Perth – as described in the preface, this version comes from Bannatyne’s MacArthur MS.  Interestingly, the original notation in that MS is possibly ambiguous (or misinterpreted) with respect to the movements to B: This edition chooses to interpret them as grips, whereas the later PS edition in book 2 chooses to interpret them as darados (as also seen in MacKay’s book).  Both are perhaps supportable in the original.

The MacArthur manuscript (and even Angus MacKay) very clearly favors and records the held-E cadences as thematic notes, something neither the original nor later version from the PS collections choose to follow.  There are other rhythmic editorial choices that isolate this printed version from its supposed MacArthur source material.

Unlike the later PS version, this one (along with all other original sources) does not include the Crunluath a mach.

Lochnell’s Lament – This is what today is called Scarce of Fishing, though the name used in the first series has excellent provenance (Peter Reid).  The later PS version adds a number of variations drawn from different sources, and differs significantly in rhythmic expression from what the later publication will show.

The Lament for the Only Son – here we see evidence of the rhythmic complexity of crahinins: While hiharins reflect their original rhythmic status, in this case with an emphasis on the first beat, as have the hararas, we see the horodos have taken the form of their familiar style.  It is not that we have not seen this rhythm already; it is that the contrast of rhythms in this score stands out, particularly when compared with the all later PS scores.

This setting includes a Crunluath a mach, as found in Campbell and MacDonald.  The later PS version will include it, as well.

The Gathering of the Clan Ranald – very straightforward setting, drawn from MacDonald and supplemented with the Taorluath gearr from MacKay (though with the editor’s 1/16th-note triplets replacing MacKay’s, as we’ve seen, above).

Corrinessan’s Salute – there are differences in the Urlar and Var 1 (and doubling) in rhythmic expression between this version and the later PS version found in Book 8. The editors of the first series state it is from Dr. Bannatyne’s John MacKay manuscript, though in generally poor and incomplete shape.  According to the Series 1 editors, this was the first time this piobaireachd had been published.

Here they are: PS-Book-2-original


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