November 30, 2005

Donald MacPherson responds to Blogpipe thread

Donald MacPherson, the greatest competitive solo piper of all time, has disavowed a claim on the popular “Blogpipe” feature that he played D gracenotes in taorluaths and crunluaths from D instead of the B that is generally called for in a 1986 performance at the Argyllshire Gathering.

The Blogpipe thread is part of a tongue-in-cheek “Ban The B” campaign calling for the B and D gracenotes to be at least optional and both acceptable by judges.

Donald MacPherson’s letter follows.

Statement by Donald MacPherson

With the recent topic on the internet regarding the D on B gracenote when playing the taorluath and crunluath movement, I was quite surprised to read Colin MacLellan’s comments from Canada on Friday October 14, 2005, “Ban the B.”

He said that in 1986 at Oban I played every single taorluath and crunluath very obviously with a D gracenote in “The Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon.” But in 1986 I played “The Sister’s Lament,” winning the first prize. It was in 1985 that I was awarded the first prize playing “Patrick Og.”

However, I do feel sorry for Colin who has latched onto the rumour initiated by Jim McGillivray on the Internet. Colin obviously suffers from the thought that he should have won the event instead of being placed second.

This type of accusation could be levelled against any piper, leaving them with no defence other than the hope that someone had recorded the performance to allow a recording specialist, and senior adjudicators to analyze the tape. (Some recordings have been taken at the premier events.)

For Colin to say that I would get away with the D gracing was an astonishing remark to make. I would like to point out that the judges at the 1985 competition in Oban, Dr. Leslie Craig, Captain Ian Cameron and John D. Burgess, were perfectly placed and able to see and hear my B gracing throughout the entire piece.

On one occasion and on one occasion only in my entire lifetime did I play the D gracenote. It was at the Bicentenary Falkirk Tryst Competition in 1981 when I played it throughout “Lament for the Children.” I have already explained my reasons for doing so on the Internet in reply to Jim McGillivray. I did not get a prize but in any case I played the piobaireachd on the fast side.

Every cassette tape, CD recording, broadcast, recital, indoor competition etc, if analyzed would prove that I have always played the B gracing with the exception of that one occasion at the Bicentenary Falkirk Tryst Competition in 1981.

I trust the above explanation will put an end to this rumour.

Donald MacPherson
Blairgowrie, Scotland

MacPherson added that the reason for him playing the D gracenote at Falkirk was that he “had not been playing regularly and missed two while in the final tuning room.”


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