A cracking night. Literally. Only pipers who have broken a chanter will know the feeling. It’s something you will only do once in your lifetime, such is the trauma of the event, and you will never ever forget the moment. Hearts went out to Craig Robertson when the loud crack was heard immediately followed by a yelp. Yes he had broken his chanter duck as can be seen from the photo. Sympathy last for almost two minutes before someone said, “well at least it wasn’t a Sinclair”
Undaunted Craig joined the band for a few tunes using his second chanter. The evening was then turned over to Peter McCalister who is feverishly practicing for the Glenfiddich at the end of the month. After a few tunes to settle the pipes he was into his first double MSR set that included the little heard reel, The Butt of Lewis. (Donald MacLeod book 5). A quick tune and he was into double MSR number two that started with Arthur Bignold of Lochrosque, followed by The Knightswood Ceilidh. Great stuff on a very solid pipe.
Pies beckoned and we were able to welcome a surprise guest, David Hester. David stays in Baltimore and is an alternative piobaireachd enthusiast. His site,
is well worth a visit. The Alt Pibroch Club began in May 2013 as a collaboration between David and Barnaby Brown. The Club aims to expand contemporary pibroch interpretation by making challenging historical material easier to find, understand and integrate into musical performance. It has grown into a suite of four websites with a collaborative commons philosophy.
To give Peter a rest David was our post pie piper and played Sian Fuive. David kindly gave us the background to the tune.
‘Slan Fuive (PS 105 – Roddy Cannon’s catalogue number, which he developed to prevent confusion. Based on shared tune names) comes from the Campbell Volume 2 (21st tune, page 54-).
The phrase is Gaelic. Allan MacDonald suggests the title is possibly “slan dhuibh”, meaning “Cheers!” Or “Farewell”. but Ronald Smith believe it may be
“slan faobh “, which would suggest “Let’s drink to plunder!”, which is highly suggestive given the amount of plundering going on in the civil war period.
I chose to play it in the Joseph MacDonald style, where Tuludhs and Creanludhs have only one low-G, all other low notes being the low-A. This is interesting, because after Donald MacDonald’s publication of his book about 50 years later, the same number of low As remained, but the initial low-G to D gracenote (“half-grip”) became the full grip (G-D-G), resulting in what we call today the presence of a “redundant A”, which wasn’t so much as “redundant”, but original to those movements.
It was much later (early 1920s, under the influence of the light music in the Army School) that the original low-A was left out as “redundant”. So, I enjoy hearing its return, in what results in a much lighter (less percussive, more open and melodic) movement.
This is only the second time this tune was played in public in Scotland in over 200 years – the Piobaireachd Society didn’t publish it until Jack Taylor and Patrick Molard released their valuable “Pipers Meeting” last year, and it has never been played in any of the competition Set Lists we have going back to the first one in 1785.
PDFs of the original Canntaireachd from Colin Campbell, as well as the stave translation are available.
The tune was recorded so hopefully in the fullness of time we will be able to let you all hear it.
To conclude the night Peter was back up and gave us a splendid Lament for Ronald MacDonald of Morar. The pipe was immaculate and held throughout the tune allowing Peter to effortlessly step his way through this beautiful piece.
And with that we were done.
The Captain John MacLellan M.B.E Memorial competition is this Saturday at the Army School of Pipes and Drums.
We have guest piper Sandy Cameron at our next meeting on Tuesday 16thOctober so please come along and support this first class young piper.
A footnote offers congratulations on the birth of Niamh Drummond. Mum and baby are well and dad is looking like death warmed up 🙂 Welcome to our latest Eaglet.