The pipe is not played but sung

This is a little interruption to my series on canntaireachd. It is not altogether unrelated. Keith Sanger recently sent me a cutting from The Scotsman that set me thinking. Dastaram gu seinnim pìob (PS 91) literally means ‘I am seized by passion to sing the pipe’, or ‘Hurrah that I sing the pipe!’, or possibly ‘I am mad about singing the pipe’. In any case, […]

Using colour to convey musical pitches – Part 2

In Part 1, I observed how the difference between sound waves and light waves has severed the vocal practice of canntaireachd from its written forms. In this part, I explain the rationale for a colour system that could heal the rift, making canntaireachd easier to handle. I have been using colour to communicate pitches in music education since 1995. That was when I bought […]

Using colour to convey musical pitches – Part 1

This series of posts seeks to elucidate canntaireachd, pibroch’s oldest tool for memorisation and musical understanding. In this part, I notice how the difference between sound waves and light waves has severed the vocal practice of canntaireachd from its written forms. I propose that colour could heal this rift, making canntaireachd less confusing and more useful in the 21st century. 200 years ago, John MacCrimmon fingered his walking stick […]

The MacFarlanes’ Gathering (Too Long in this Condition)

This tune presents excellent opportunities for amateurs and professionals to make tired ears prick up and pay attention. It is one of those tunes begging for a fresh interpretation by a piper who wants to offer something extra – a memorable and authoritative performance that stands out from the crowd. Every year at the Piobaireachd Society Conference, I hear the Music Committee longing […]

Murdoch’s Black Dog

This title bothers me: It is one of pibroch’s unsolved mysteries. No-one has come up with a convincing interpretation. There are two dogs in Colin Campbell’s Instrumental Book 1797: ‘Samuell’s Black dog’ (PS 108) and ‘McLeod’s Dog Short Tail’ (PS 131), but we know nothing about either of them. In my post Sorley’s Black Dog, I explained why it is more likely that we are dealing with […]