November 28, 2023

New interpretation of Binneas is Boreraig in the works

A sample of the planned re-interpretation of Binneas is Boreraig by Chris and Pat Terry of South Africa.

The groundbreaking multi-volume piobaireachd collection Binneas is Boreraig, compiled by Roderick Ross, was released in 1959 as an innovative way to communicate on paper the musical timing and intentions of Ross’s ceol mor teacher, Malcolm MacPherson.

Sixty-four years later, the famous South African piper Chris Terry and his brother Pat are working to complete “a detailed and critical analysis of the collection.”

A key difference is that the new version will convert Ross’s super-abbreviated, colour-coded, three-line-staff notation system in the original Binneas is Boreraig (roughly translated as “Melody and Boreraig”) to conventional five-line staff. The Terrys’ iteration retains the absence of time signatures and bar lines, which Ross believed hindered interpretation. They also said there would be “far fewer mistakes and inconsistencies” in the scores.

An example of Dr. Roddy Ross’s Binneas is Boreraig: “The King’s Taxes.”

The 113-tune original collection was recompiled and printed in separate and single volumes a few times over the years, the last being a single compilation book in 2003.

Dr. Roderick Ross (right) speaking with Captain John. MacLellan MBE at a formal event in Edinburgh in the 1960s.

Chris Terry, a pupil of the great John MacFadyen, was a prominent solo piper in the 1970s and ’80s. Pat Terry received instruction from James Campbell, son of Archibald Campbell, also known as “Kilberry.”

The new collection will number 214 pages, including their introduction and annotations for each piece.

The Terrys invite piobaireachd aficionados to visit their information website and provide feedback on their efforts.

At publication, potential availability and pricing of the new collection were not available.

Many accomplished pipers were fans of Binneas is Boreraig, including the late Jimmy McIntosh, who discussed Ross’s work in his 1994 pipes|drums Interview.

Dr. Roddy Ross died in 2015 at the age of 96. One of the great solo pipers of the early 1900s, Malcolm Ross MacPherson, was born in 1907, the grandson of the legendary Calum “Piobair” MacPherson. He died in 1966.






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