PS 111 – The MacDonalds’ Salute

      Fàilte Chlann Dòmhnaill


Primary Sources

C2 Fannet C2.27: 68
The MacDonald’s Salute A.9: 25
Dj MacDonald’s Salute Dj.28: 33
KB Failte Chlann Domhnuill / The Macdonald’s Salute KB.19: 46
SC Failte Chlann donill SC.4
Angus MacKay, ‘Specimens of Canntareachd’ (c. 1854), no. 4

Notes on Gaelic Titles

Fàilte Chlann Dòmhnaill  MacDonald’s Salute Dj; Failte Chlann Domhnuill / The Macdonald’s Salute KB; Failte Chlann donill SC. The MacDonalds’ Salute – but Dj implies that the salute is to an individual rather than to the whole clan. Cf Fàilte Mhic Dòmhnaill (PS 244).

Fanaid (?)  Fannet C2. Mockery. Possibly ‘Fancy’, an English musical genre term equivalent to ‘Fantasia’ (R.D. Cannon, ‘Gaelic names of pibrochs: a classification’. Scottish Studies, 34 [2000-2006], pp 20-59.

Roderick Cannon (2009)

Other Material

2001 William Donaldson: Set Tunes Notes

2009 William Donaldson: Set Tunes Notes

1 thought on “PS 111 – The MacDonalds’ Salute”

  1. ‘Fannet’, no. 27, vol 2 NL MS, is an interesting tune in that it is the same as ‘MacDonald’s Salute’, one of a pair of tunes supposedly composed by Donald Mor MacCrimmon on the occasion of the reconciliation between the MacLeods of Dunvegan and Clan Donald, following a protracted war, thus possibly dating them to the beginning of the 17th century.

    The other is ‘MacLeod’s Salute’ which has the alternative name of ‘MacLeod’s Rowing Tune’; however, in the 1960’s, Capt. John A. MacLellan had the opportunity to play this piece while being rowed from Dunvegan across to Boreraig and recalled that it was not possible to row to it. This raises the possibility that the tune has altered somewhat in transmission, and invites a reconstruction of how it might have been played to accompany rowing. To make the tune fit the rhythm of the oars is quite simple; one changes the introductory ‘birl’ or ‘gairm’ to its older form: HIN din DIN, a strong – weak – strong rhythm which is suitable, and instead of the ‘Donald Mor run-down’, one plays a long B, a short A, and a long low G to achieve the same metre. (This raises the possibility that D.M. MacC did not play his ‘run-down’ but that it is an effect added later.)

    So, now both tunes are rhythmically suited for rowing, if the ‘hiharin hiharin’ and ‘horodo horodo’ of ‘Fannet’ are played with the same rhythm of ‘long-short-long’, which Frans Buismann argued was clearly implied in the Nether Lorne MS, as opposed to the modern style of replacing them with ‘double echoes’. Notably, the MacArthur MacGregor MS, which contains a fragmentary version of ‘MacDonald’s Salute’ also records this older style of playing these motifs.

    Of further interest is the structure of ‘Fannet’, which Campbell in the NL has written in three lines; it quite clearly conforms to the older pattern of composition mentioned by Joseph MacDonald in his Treatise, of four lines or ‘fingers’ of equal length, merely by making each line contain an equal amount of phrases. This give the tune a pleasingly logical (and easier to remember) structure. It also indicates that this pattern was known to MacCrimmon, and is therefore older and more fundamental to pibroch structure than the three-lined pattern widely used in modern publications. This point was argued forcibly by Robin Lorimer in 1964 (School of Scottish Studies publications) and later by Barnaby Brown in a Piobaireachd Society paper, but the distorted modern misconception nevertheless prevails..

    One of the striking features of this older way of seeing the phrase arrangement is how the central and pivotal motif ‘Horodo horodo’ signals a reversal of the phrase sequence; the first motif in the first two lines becomes the last in the final two. The modern idea, that every line should end with the same phrase, conceals what seems to be a survival from Bardic and Harping tradition.

    Finally, there is the curious name ‘Fannet’ which is based on the gaelic ‘fanaid’, meaning ‘ridicule, mockery’. If the traditional story of the composition is true, this suggests a possible double meaning to the ‘Salute’ – superficially a welcome, but to those in the know actually a veiled insult. This would be consistent with the origin of the feud which King James the Sixth forced his subjects to abandon: it was known as ‘The War of the One-Eyed Woman’ after an elaborate insult to the MacLeods by a MacDonald chief who had taken MacLeod’s daughter in Handfast marriage (a temporary union of one year, terminable by either party at the end if unworkable). She had only one good eye, and was sent back to Dunvegan on a one-eyed horse, led by a one-eyed man with a one-eyed dog! Perhaps MacCrimmon gave the MacLeods the last laugh with a double-edged musical revenge?

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