PS 072 – The Sutherlands’ Gathering

      Cruinneachadh nan Sutharlanach

Primary Sources

C1 Sutherland’s Gathering C1.71: 153
Dj Sutherland’s Gathering Dj.25: 28
The Sutherlands Gathering R.23: 18r
K2 Cruinneachadh na Suthearlanach / The Sutherlands Gathering K2.22: 45
KK Cruinneachadh na Sutherlanaich / The Sutherlands Gathering KK.13: 23

Notes on Gaelic Title

Cruinneachadh nan Sutharlanach Sutherland’s Gathering C1; The Sutherlands Gathering R; Sutherland’s Gathering Dj; Cruinneachadh na Suthearlanach / The Sutherlands Gathering K2; Cruinneachadh na Sutherlanaich / The Sutherlands Gathering KK. The Sutherlands’ Gathering. The apostrophe is a rarity in C1. Presumably it implies ‘Sutherland’ as singular. Changing Angus MacKay’s na to nan is not an amendment so much as recognition of the fact that in speech the second n is not usually heard. It fits the interpretation as ‘of the Sutherlands’, plural, rather than ‘Sutherland’s’, singular. This is presumed to be what Angus intended, though it is open to question whether he was right to treat ‘Sutherland’ as a collective clan name – it is not a patronymic like MacDonald or MacLean. See also Màrsail nan Sutharlanach (PS 81).

Roderick Cannon (2009)

Notes on Music

This tune has suffered badly from misunderstanding. In April 2014, I realised that the word ‘variation’ had been importing unhelpful baggage from the ‘theme and variation form’ of Western classical music. The composers of pibroch relished moving off the ground, going on a journey – that is what pibroch used to be about. This understanding, however, gradually declined during the 19th century, replaced by notions that the variations should agree with the ground. The results are always more tedious. When the musical material is reduced, intensified, or otherwise transformed between statements of the Urlar, this may be a sign of skill and cultural confidence rather than of corruption.

The varied settings of this tune are a wonderful example of the early-nineteenth-century pibroch player’s craft. Their flexibility embodies a spirit long extinct but which is full of musicality. Here is an experimental recording in which I sing from R:

      2014 Barnaby Brown vocabelises The Sutherlands' Gathering

Peter Reid was more fastidious than any other pibroch transcriber in capturing nuances of timing and personal expression in notation. To form the Taoludh Doubling, I consulted C1, but other solutions could be equally compelling and many tunes demonstrate that professionals were not constrained by the form of their first Doubling. On the repeat of the Urlar, I introduce a few features from C1, illustrating which elements might vary from one rendition to another.

Barnaby Brown, 2014

Other Materials

      2015 Allan MacDonald and Barnaby Brown discuss The Sutherlands' Gathering

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