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Roderick Cannon, in the last COMMON STOCK, examined the tune book that was once the property of Robert Millar. Space considerations prevented this part of Roderick’s article from being included. Here it is.

Here is an excellent piece of music, which is in the form of a short suite. “The Duke of

Atholl’s March and Pibrach” is apparently from one of Nathaniel Gow’s collections,

c.1815(22). It consists of a classical type of military march in common time, followed by a six-part 6/8 section, then a repeat of the opening march. The 6/8 march is basically the modern 6/8 march ‘Atholl Highlanders’ though it differs quite a bit from the version we play     today. It is certainly not what we would now call a piobaireachd; but there are other         examples of simple 6/8 pieces marked ‘pibroch’ in eighteenth and nineteenth-century     collections.

The common time theme is marked ‘Maestoso’. It is full of repeats of the same note on three marching beats (bar2. bar4. etc). We hear the same thing in ‘The Crusaders’ March’ and ‘The garb of Old Gaul’ - two other fine late eighteenth century tunes. It has a rather Mozart-like ending and a good classical ornament on the final tow G (as written here it would be low A on the Highland pipes). It needs the sharpened seventh (leading note) and it has another sharp in bar 3 of the second part, where it goes momentarily into the E minor key (F sharp minor if you transpose the whole thing up one tone). I asked a friend who is an excellent classical musician, to play the whole suite on the piano. She added a simple bass part to the march, which brought it to life immediately, and after playing it through once or twice, settled exactly on the military slow march tempo of 60 paces to the minute. But she was much less happy with the 6/8 section. For one thing it didn’t lie well under the fingers as a piano piece (it is evidently set for the fiddle), but more importantly, the sequence of the melody notes just did not go with any expected sequence of chords. The endings of each part of the 6/8 section made better sense from the classical point of view, and I remembered Peter Cooke telling me years ago that the last two bars of ‘Atholl Highlanders’ were a very typical ’classical’ way of ending a tune. For myself I noticed how the fourth part, which we don’t play on the pipes today, had a distinct flavour of piobaireachd, and the trills on the low keynote in the next part make a very passable imitation of the Highland piper’s taorluath.

It is interesting to trace this piece through the published bagpipe collections. The 6/8 section is in S.T.Colclough’s Union pipe tutor of about 1830(23), with the name ‘The Highlander’s Fabrick’, and in Thomas Glen’s tutor (1840) with the heading ‘The Duke of Athole’s March, or Oscar & Malvina, Osian’. ‘Oscar and Malvina’ was a pantomime with music composed by William Reeve. First performed in 1791, it featured bagpipe music - union pipes. In 1791, at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, the pipes were played by a Mr. Courtney. On another occasion - in London perhaps - they were played by P. O’Farrell, the compiler


of important Union pipe collections in the early 1800s(24). The overture to the opera, and a piano score, were published in 1791, included a ‘rondo’ for pipes(25). 1 haven’t found any other indications of what was played on the pipes in the opera.

The common time march does not surface in the pipe literature till much later. It is the Kilberry Book of Ceol Meadhonach (1909) as ‘The Slow Atholl March’, based on a setting written out by Aeneas Rose(26), who had been Pipe Major of the Atholl Highlanders in the mid to late nineteenth century. It was immediately ‘borrowed’ for Logan’s collection of pipe music, Book 6, but hasn’t been published since. The pipe setting is very close to what Robert Millar recorded, but it substitutes G natural for G sharp, it cuts out the rapid run at the end, and it replaces the E sharp with E natural.

What are we to make of the information about this particular piece? I think it is the product of a classically trained composer, presumably Nathaniel Gow himself. It sounds to me like a piece of programme music. Does it symbolise a battle between the English and the Scots, or the Lowlands and the Highlands, or the Whigs and the Jacobites? However we read it the contrast between the four-square, balanced and harmoniously based march, and the fast, wild, irregular ’pibrach’ is dramatic, especially when the fast part returns, Da Capo, to the march.

To do it well on bagpipe would be a challenge. On the Union pipe, it might go best with regulator accompaniment to the march, and pure melody-over-drone in the pibroch. Or what should an orchestral setting, with drum and fife prominent in the march, and the pipes coming in just for the pibroch?