“The Bells of Perth” may have been Connell’s favorite tune. He said it included everything an accomplished piper needed to master -- technique, interpretive variety, and duration. The variation in question is a doubling of a standard taorluath breabach played “up the way” as expected. But the doubling adds another flavor that might be rendered as I have below. Again, think of this as written in 6/4 time.


There is little to add here except to emphasize that these groupings of notes are options within the style, not mandates. They can be employed or not based on the tune and the taste of the performer. Connell seemed to use this idea frequently, William Barrie also. Reid, perhaps, less so.

From the Overview section comes the following list of tunes that include hybrid variations that a Cameron trained piper might treat in a similar way:

“The MacFarlanes’ Gathering”
“The Bells of Perth”
“Lament for MacSwan of Roaig”
“Beloved Scotland”
“The Battle of Auldearn”
“The Lament for the Earl of Antrim”
“The Prince’s Salute”

19. I noted earlier that the Cameron style player tended to play both suibhal and taorlauth breabach variations “up the way”. A handful of tunes with breabach variations have a very musical variation of the form found in “Corrienessan’s Salute” and others shown below.




Other tunes with this form of variation include, “Lament for the Harp Tree” and “Lachlan ManNeill of Kintarbert’s Fancy”.

In each case, the variation establishes a pattern of low A emphasis. On the other hand, the common Cameron approach reverses that emphasis in the toarluath breabach. The change was embraced as adding interest to the tune, shifting the balance point of the diversity-variety continuum.

James Campbell, it should be noted, as a matter of personal taste opted to create rhythmic consistency variation to variation. In a tune such as “Corrienessan’s Salute” he took his cue from the earlier variations and play the taorluath breabach “down the way”.

As a point of interest, Andrew MacNeill commented that Reid never got the tune “Sir James MacDonald of the Isles’ Lament” from Gillies. When it was a set tune for the Gold Medal competitions in the 1930”s Reid taught the tune with the breabach expressed down. And Connell taught the tune with both the taorluath and crunluath breabach with a downward emphasis. So, at least these adherent of the Cameron style were anything but hide bound on the point of upward or downward emphasis.

There were, finally, a handful of taorluath breabach tunes that the Cameron scions Alexander Cameron (the younger) and Gillies taught with other than an upward emphasis. These are recounted in the Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor (Campbell 1948 page 19) and reiterated in the Sidelights..... book (page 13).

Alexander Cameron taught the taorluath of “Lament for Donald of Laggan” pointed “down the way.” This approach seems universal for the tune. He timed the taorluath of “Earl of Seaforths’ March” and “Struan Robertson’s Salute” with the notes of the taorluath breabach “kick” played evenly.

Gillies, on the other hand, advised only one exception to the upward emphasis and that tune was “Lament for Donald of Laggan”. According to Campbell he played all other taorluath breabachs in the “normal” Cameron way with a stressed last, upper note of the “kick”.

When I went through the tune “Struan Robertson’s Salute” with Connell, he preferred the taorluath played “down the way”. The opposite emphasis produced a string of held D’s which he found unattractive. Thomason’s Ceol Mor records the tune (page 169) and notes Keith Cameron as one of its editorial contributors. The ground was written as I got it from Connell, but the toarluath and the crunluath were expressed “up the way” --- no fear of D’s there. Clearly, even within the Cameron camp there is diversity of opinion and expressive license.


The introductory E is an embellishment. It acts as a bridge between melodic units and serves to both foreshadow something of musical importance and give extra aural “weight” to the following bit of melody. Historically, they may have been discretionary and applied extemporaneously. While some remarkable efforts have been made to research and revive period playing style and practice, pipers still debate how these introductory elements may have been played in the ceol mor “Golden Age”. Readers are directed to the work of Barnaby Brown and Allan MacDonald for “cutting edge” if debated approaches to reconstructing an older playing style.

By the end of the 19th c., however, the picture seems clearer. By that time the introductory E was beginning to loose its status as an embellishment and in some contexts took on melody note length to the point of dominating the melody. Cameron style players participated in this evolution but perhaps to a lesser degree than others. Alexander Cameron, with one exception, kept these introductory E’s relative short even in contrast to others of a Cameron stripe. I suspect if one were to keep all of these introductions relatively short, subordinate to what follows, the presentation would be largely in keeping with Cameron practice.

Below is a bit of the tune “Tullach Ard” as taught by Connell. Note the regular and short introductory E’s. I have used tie marks to indicate the “mini-phrases” as Connell thought of them. I dare say, this use of the introductory E would have please Alexander Cameron.

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