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(NB: according to William Barrie (personal communication), this pre-cadence pause was once a common feature of many pipers’ performance regardless of background. It has been discarded by most modern players, but remains a conservative feature of those of a Cameron persuasion. Its rejection by others has made it almost diagnostic of the Cameron style in modern times.)

The staff music below is an attempt to show the timing of simple two-note cadence phrases and introduced cadences in a crunluath variation. This is the first line of the crunluath singling from “Lament for the Earl of Antrim” which includes both forms of cadence phrase. The introductory E’s are written melody note size because they to have significant duration, but they are written with the stem point up like other gracenoting to suggest their status as an embellishment. (See my introductory notes to the revisions of William Connell’s instructional book.)

LAMENT FOR THE EARL OF ANTRIM: first line crunluath singling





9) The Camerons style player prefers the light throw on D (GdCD), but will emphasize the initial low G gracenote. See the above note on the importance given to the lower notes of the scale. See also Connell’s instructional tapes for his technical discussion of the movement.

10) The Cameron style player will tend to play the piobaireachd birl movement with the introductory E shorter than the low A. In practice, the timing varies by context.

The shortened E is recognition that the E is a grace-note embellishment, not technically part of the melody line or “tone row” of the tune. In truth, Connell tended to the currently fashionable even timed introductory E and low A melody note, but Andrew MacNeill was adamant that the E should be shorter.

11) The Cameron style player will play double echo movements as fairly compact with a strong emphasis on the second strike. Again, Connell’s instructional tapes would be a good guide.

Gillies and Reid taught the double echo on D with a C strike rather than the conventional low G. Alexander Cameron, the younger, preferred the low G per Angus MacKay. The C strike presumably came to Gillies from Keith Cameron. On the other hand, according to Frank Richardson, the lighter, C strike was employed by many pipers pre-WWII regardless of pedigree. (See Campbell (ed.) 1984, page 11 and MacNeill and Richardson 1987, pages 83 , 84). The recorded instructional material by Connell is representative of the Cameron timing of such motifs regardless of the strike employed.

12) The Cameron style player tends to play taorluath breabach variations “up the way”, although there are notable exceptions. See Campbell (1948, page 19) for a discussion of exceptions. Each “kick” of the taorluath breabach motif includes a short low A (occasionally low G) followed by the breabach note proper. Connell used to remark that the melody lies in the varied upper notes, the breabach notes, not the the repetitive low A’s or low G’s that precede them.

Below is the doubling of the taorluath breabach variation of “ Corrienessan’s Salute” written roughly as it would be played “up the way” .



13) Cameron style pipers exhibit subtle variety in how crunluath breabachs are played. In my experience, it is common to time the low A (occasionally low G) and breabach note of each “kick” evenly. Campbell, on the other hand, is at pains to describe Alexander Cameron’s (the younger) slight emphasis on the low A of the turn.. His impression of Gillies’ timing was of the “kick” being even (Campbell 1984, page 30). This even timing seems broadly accepted now and it is how Connell addresses the movement in his recorded instructional material.

Gillies and Alexander Cameron (the younger) had a distinctive twist on those crunluath breabach movements that concluded with two low A’s.

While the other breabachs are played with an even swing or perhaps an emphasis of varying degree on the low A, when the breabach note itself is low A the timing changes. The initial low A is shortened and extra time added to the breabach note.

How diagnostic this is of the Cameron style, I can not say, but I am aware of only pipers of a clear Cameron background employing the technique. It is recorded by Campbell in the “Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor” and his collected notes (cf. Campbell 1948, page 19 and 1985 page 30) and I have heard it played on recordings of Reid and Andrew MacNeill. I have a recollection of James Barrie playing it too. Connell did not teach this but advocated an even swing through out.

The staff notation that follows shows the first line of crunluath breabach variation of “Lament for MacSwan of Roaig”. I have written the two “kick” notes as even, but that changes when the breabach notes are low A’s.

Lament for MacSwan of Roaig: line one of crunluath breabach











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