Rule One – Primary Sources are required
Another of the Battlefield Pibrochs in the Hannay-MacAuslan collection (the others being the Finger Lock [PS 132] and Cille Chriost [PS 170]), the interpretive tradition of this tune is remarkably distinct.
One the one hand, we have the Angus MacKay approach, dominating today’s performances. This interpretive approach is dominated by the held-E cadence, a distinctive and idiosyncratic, perhaps even defining feature of the MacKay style. In the case of this tune, the cadence E becomes a melodic element in the first three motions (Urlar, Thumb and Var 1). You can see it here:
A performance of this style can be heard, for example, here (performed by the great Fred Morrison 2014):
On the other hand, the Hannay-MacAuslan collection (written in the MacDonald style) brings a completely different performative option to this tune. As is typical (idiosyncratic, and perhaps even definitive) of MacDonald-style scores, the cadences are streaming and numerous (though no more so than MacKay’s in this score). The result is potentially quite difference, since this retains the integrity of the melodic line:
Setting aside this (significant) difference, both the MacKay and the Hannay-MacAuslan scores reflect the traditional taorluath and crunluath form. They diverge in two areas, however: Hannay-MacAuslan includes a Tripling (i.e., a mach) of the Taorluath motion, something quite rare in the pibroch world:
and the a mach style of the Crunluath motions are different:
One last thing to note: throughout the Hannay-MacAuslan manuscript, we see only light-grips (in the taorluath and crunluath movements). This will have a significant impact on the sound of these movements.
More to follow…