The context as far as Connell is concerned is as follows:

Connell’s normal timing of the introduced cadence in a taorluath variation is three even notes --- long/long/long --- timed to maintain the pulse of the variation. On the other hand, in the ground of a tune a similar cadence phrase would have a different timing --- roughly, short/long/long.

Occasionally an introduced cadence in a taorluath variation is a repetition of, an exact duplicate of one that exists in the ground of a tune in structurally exactly the same place. The Cameron penchant for consistency (or Connell’s) demands, then, that the cadence in the toarluath be a duplicate of the one in the ground. The trick is to make it work rhythmically within the taorluath variation in a way that does not accentuate the already percussive and staccato nature of the variation.

In Connell’s approach, to make that work rhythmically within a toarluath variation demands a broad resolution of the the phrase before the introduced cadence. Therefore, a resolution is provided by lengthening the low A after the taorluath movement. In this way, according to Connell, the somewhat broken rhythm can be accommodated in a manner that does not add to the already staccato feel of the variation. The rhythmic solution is a pre-cadence pause on the low A of the toarluath motif before the introductory E. That is how it was explained to me.

In one other instance William Connell sometimes taught a pre-cadence pause in the taorluath variation, and that was in tunes with a strong bottom hand emphasis to the melody. For a tune that is thumping along on the low A, low G and B and then to jump to an introductory E was too much of a contrast for Connell’s aesthetic. The pause on the low A of the taorluath before an introductory E was a effort to minimize the aural “shock”. This was a matter of taste.

Connell was aware that the pre-cadence pause was usually tolerated by the judging community in crunluath variations, but it was usually condemned out of hand when applied to taorluath variations. In lessons he would present his views and his approach then allow a student to choose to risk the approach in competition or not.

One final comment about cadences. Any phrase or motif that serves the cadence role as a structural signpost is still a cadence. Below, for example is the first line of the taorluath breabach variation of “Lament for Donald of Laggan” as included in Connell’s instructional material. There are a number of four note motifs that break the melody and provide a pause, but they fall away in the doubling of the variation. These are cadences that do not fit the standard form but they still are cadences because they function as such.


A second example comes from Connell’s rendition of “Lament for the Little Supper”. In this tune, double echo motifs serve as cadences in the singlings of the variations.


A cadence is as a cadence does.


Pipers of a Cameron stripe value consistency, yet often they introduce rhythmic diversity both within a variation and between variations.

17. For example, suibhal variations are normally played “up the way”. Where four melody notes lie in each structural block of the tune, the Cameron stylist may, as an option, group these notes into clusters of four with a pause on the fourth.

The suibhal variation of “The Little Spree” is an example from Connell’s teaching that was highlighted in the previous Overview section. Below is that variation written to suggest its timing. Think of the variation as written in 6/4 time.

THE WEE SPREE: first line of suibhal variation with notes grouped in fours

Another example would be the suibhal variation of “Lament for MacSwan of Roiag” sung by William Barrie. Reid plays it “straight” but Barrie groups the variation in fours like Connell in “The Wee Spree”.


An extension of this idea is recorded by Iain MacLeod (Jersey) in which the tone row notes of the the “Little Spree” are subtly grouped in eights rather than fours (personal recording archive from Iain MacLeod).

18. Another example of rhythmic diversity in these “pendulum” variations occur where there is a mix of toarluath breabach movements and suibhal rhythms. This hybrid variation was also discussed in the Overview section where the tune, “MarFarlanes’ Gathering” was used as an example. It is presented below as it appears in Connell’s instructional material. Each of the taorluath breabach segments is played with an upward emphasis on the last note of the motif. In the suibhal segments, the notes are grouped by fours.

THE MACFARLANES GATHERING: line one of ground doubling

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