Music

Two excerpts from The Blind Piper of Gairloch – music by Iain MacAoidh, Am Pìobaire Dall (1656–1754)
First performed at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, 28 January 2011:

‘Cumha Choir’-an-Easain’ (1697)

Text:
Raonuill MacDomhnuill’s ‘Eigg Collection’ (1776)

Melody:
manuscript by John MacColl (c.1900)

 

At the time when the sun leans on its elbow, bloody, tearing, primed, wounding,
Trigger-filled, arms-filled, bristled, ready, grallaching, killing, efficient, gillie-filled. 

At the time of descending to your plains, fire-filled, converse-filled, candle-filled, wax-filled,
Wine-filled, goblet-filled, music-filled, string-filled, ceremonious, familiar, drinking with accord.

I will take leave of you now, o Corrie, as I am satisfied with your discourse;
I will cease to traverse your hilltop, untill MacAoidh comes to Scotland.

But it is my wish for you, o Corrie, since great is my expectation to go over you,
Since we are infirm on the mountain, we will be returning home.

Today I leave the country, skirting the edge of the moorland.
What has left me with an empty pocket is that my patron is beneath the slabs.


‘Cumha Tighearna Anapuill – Lament for the Laird of Arnaboll’
Sources: the MacCrimmon Canntaireachd (1816–1828) and MacGregor-MacArthur manuscript (1820)

Programmes

The Blind Piper of Gairloch

Music by Iain MacAoidh, Am Pìobaire Dall (1656–1754)

Iain Dall was bard and piper to three Lairds of Gairloch (7th–9th). He is unique among the hereditary pipers of Scotland in achieving fame both for music and for poetry. In the enthusiastic opinion of John Mackenzie in 1841, his poem Cumha Choir’-an-Easain “is not surpassed by any thing of the kind in the Keltic language—bold, majestic, and intrepid”.

Nearly 300 pibrochs survive from the era of the piping dynasties, most of them anonymous; of these, eleven can be attributed to Iain Dall with reasonable confidence. Several of these have acquired a hallowed status in the piping community, including the two performed in this programme, one in canntaireachd (as it would be sung to students), the other on the bagpipe. These cathedrals of melodic craftsmanship represent the peak of nobility in surviving Gaelic music.

Triplepipes, Lust and Spilt Blood

In the morning rising with your hunting hounds,

Cheerful, handsome, splendid, busy,

Puddle-filled, slab-filled, incline-filled, comely,

Tousled, antler-like, knobby, dastardly.

 

At the time when the sun leans on its elbow,

Bloody, tearing, primed, wounding,

Trigger-filled, arms-filled, bristled, ready,

Grallaching, killing, efficient, gillie-filled.

 

At the time of descending to your plains,

Fire-filled, converse-filled, candle-filled, wax-filled,

Wine-filled, goblet-filled, music-filled, string-filled,

Ceremonious, familiar, drinking with accord.

 

I will take leave of you now, o Corrie,

As I am satisfied with your discourse;

I will cease to traverse your hilltop,

Untill MacAoidh comes to Scotland.

 

But it is my wish for you, o Corrie,

Since great is my expectation to go over you,

Since we are infirm on the mountain,

We will be returning home.

 

Today I leave the country,

Skirting the edge of the moorland.

What has left me with an empty pocket

Is that my patron is beneath the slabs.

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