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)
|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,
I will take leave of you now, o Corrie, as I am satisfied with your discourse;
But it is my wish for you, o Corrie, since great is my expectation to go over you,
Today I leave the country, skirting the edge of the moorland.
‘Cumha Tighearna Anapuill – Lament for the Laird of Arnaboll’
Sources: the MacCrimmon Canntaireachd (1816–1828) and MacGregor-MacArthur manuscript (1820)
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.