Never the less, others with a Cameron background, look at repetitive introductory E’s and see them as ripe for diversification. James Campbell provides such diversification by adapting a convention attributed to Alexander Cameron (the younger). When the introductory E falls on a B which is then followed by a throw to a higher note (usually C or D), the E is lengthen, the B shortened to retain the balance and the motif resolves on the final note of the three. (See Campbell 1984, page 34). Below, the third mini-phrase is James’ adaptation with the middle note shifted down to low A.

“Tulloch Ard” as James Campbell might play it:

Another example of a Cameron stylist diversifying the approach to introductory E’s is found in “The Big Spree” as interpreted by William Barrie. If the introductory E precedes a low A, it is prolonged and the subsequent low A shortened to achieve balance. This seems very much a Gillies approach and typical of Reid’s playing, too. The rhythm pattern of the motif changes from short-long-long to long-short-long. This staff music attempts to capture the approach. Structural blocks are noted by double bars and miniphrases by ties.


Finally, contrast the interpretation of “MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart” as suggested by Campbell based on Alexander Cameron’s playing with the manuscript Gillies wrote to record his approach to the tune. The first example is from the Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor.

The introductory E’s are written gracenote size with their stems pointing up. Each is timed as an eighth note (quaver) and the following melody note is a quarter note low A. Campbell records in the Sidelights........ book (1984 page 26) that Alexander Cameron kept the low A long, perhaps the longest note of the “bar”.

On the other hand, Gillies wrote the following bit of staff about 1900 to record how he played the tune. Note the lengthened introductory E and the shortened low A that follows. This is reproduced from Campbell (1984, page 27):


My intent is not to suggest that Gillies deviated from Cameron’s teaching, but only that they differed. Preferences existed, but in other contexts Cameron was just as happy to extend an introductory E. This willingness to explore the possibilities within traditionally defined parameters seems a Cameron trait. Archibald Campbell states the case well when he writes concerning the relative duration of an introductory E followed by a low A or low G: This is a matter in which the player can introduce taste and expression and there is no reason why he should not indulge his own taste. So long as he does not clip either note short (1985, page 69).

As a final example I reproduce from Further Sidelights on the Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor (1985, page 69) Gillies’ timing of the introductory E’s of “Clan Chattan’s Gathering” as recorded by Campbell. It is a mix of long and short introductory E’s. Note, however, that the mini-phrases that begin with the extended E are treated exactly the same way in the concluding phrase of “MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart”. This is a good example of interpreting by analogy and developing consistency between tunes that leads to variety within a tune. It is also a good example of how the distinction between the E as a melody note versus an embellishment was eroding in the late 19th c.

Here is the tune as in Further Sidelights.........(page 69). All E’s are written as melody notes, but watch the shifting pause marks or fermatas:


The same tune as it appears in the Kilberry Book (page 92) follows. Compare the shifting fermatas on the quarter notes (crotchets) with what Campbell wrote above. Also note that the E’s have now been written as embellishments. Those that are lengthened are indicated by the pause mark on the middle note of the phrase. Those that are kept short are indicated by the pause on the first note of the phrase. This is just one of the conventions Campbell employed in his book that lead Andrew MacNeill to declare it was only understandable when read along side his Sidelights..... notes.

Line One:

Finally, using conventions from Connell’s instructional book here is the line as it might be played:

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