Dwelly-d Faclair Dwelly air loidhne Dwelly's Gaelic Dictionary Online


sf Chanting, singing, warbling. 2** Melodiousness. 3** Song-singing. 4** Merriment. 5(a) The ancient Highland manner of noting classical pipe-music by a combination of definite syllables, by which means the various tunes could be the more easily recollected by the learner. Through the kindness of Chas. Bannatyne Esq., M.B., C.M., Salsburgh, Holytown, we are able to give here the only systematic key to this ancient system of notation for "ceòl mór" ever published. As MacLeod of Gesto, who published the MacCrimmons' tunes in canntaireachd, took them down phonetically, it is rather difficult to describe the system minutely. This must not be lost sight of in translating tunes. The complete key is here given. A few of the notes resemble one another very closely, but the changes used are indicated and the pronunciations are given approximately, in brackets.
Note and grace note key to MacLeod's MacCrimmon tunes in Canntaireachd.
Basis, a nine line stave or scale, each line representing a note of the chanter.
Key note of chanter: approximately A Major.
Scales G ordinals Vowels Names of fingers Single grace note scales Shakes Doublings Triplings Touches Types
A1 Doh an 9mh i (boy) òrdag, thumb vi     li vivi       ceithir-lugh
G1 Ta an t-8mh u (au) iulugh, index, leading or guiding vu h d, t lu riuru dru triu riu hodatri†
F Lah an 7mh ie (ebb)   vie hie die, tie lie rieri drie, dirie trie rie hodratiriri‡
E Soh an 6mh i (if)   bhi hi* di, ti   riri* dri, diri tri ri hohorieri§
D Fah an 5mh a (awl) a' chorrag, first (index, leading) bha, vao ha, ch d, ta   tiriri drao trao rao trì-lugh
C Me an 4mh o (son)   bho, vo ho, cho do, to, tho lo roro dro, dor tro ro hodirit†
B Ray an 3s a (ale)   bha, va ha, cha da, ta, ha la rara dra, dar tra ra hodorit‡
A Doh an 2ra en
in (ihn)
    hin, chin din   rurin drin, dirit, dirin tri rin hininindo
G Ta a' 1d u (süne) lùdag, lùdan, little.   hu, chu du   ru dr, dir, dur tru    
*Beats are combined forms, such as "hiriri:" † A-steach. ‡ A-mach. § Fosgailte.
The key note, "low A" is always represented in this notation by in, probably a contraction of "an dara aon," the second one, to distinguish the key note from the first note of the chanter — "low G." "High A" is always i, but in a canntaireachd word it is often denoted by a preceding l, thus, liu and so confusion is avoided. "Low A" is either in, en, em or simply n after some notes. The alternatives seem to have been used for the sake of euphony. D note is a and B note is a but the qualifying effect of the grace notes — "high G" represented by h, and D represented by d or h (the latter a contraction of a' chorrag, the finger playing D) prevents any confusion. The note E is represented by i. At the beginning of most of the MacCrimmon tunes and variations is l, which gives the key note. It stands for E (soh) the dominant of the "low A" (doh). Where it does not occur, the tune will be found to start with a word like hien, which denotes E with "High G" grace note and then "low a" The vowel for F note is ie and it also is always made certain by its grace note d or h. "High G" is u, often distinguished by a preceding h. "High A" is often vi, to distinguish it from E note. When F succeeds "high A" in a tune, the word is often vie. Regarding grace notes, h, the aspirate, qualifies all notes down to "low A," but often where ha obviously means "B" note, it must be concluded that it should have been written cha. Similarly ho ho should be ho cho. The letter d, is used, as is t, to denote both "High G" and D grace notes but an examination of the notation word makes a mistake unlikely, thus, dieliu means F with "high G" grace note and then "high A" and G. Tihi means two E's played with two G grace notes. T and d resemble each other very closely in Gaelic but the context in canntaireachd makes it always easy to see whether "high G" grace note or D is meant. It is necessary to explain the compound grace note systems. Dr is doubling of "low G" by a touch of D grace note, drin is doubling of "low G" by a touch of D grace note and open "low A'" and so on over the whole scale. The letters dr are obviously a contraction of dà uair, "two times" or twice. Tri means doubling of "low G" by D grace note and as A is opened, double E by F and E and open E. This is a crunluath form. Tro is the same, at first, but the doubling of E is done with the grips from o or C note. This is "crunnluath a-mach." These examples will make the rest easy. In many tunes where a tr type occurs, it obviously when translated, should only have been a dr type, this confusion being due to the similarity of d and t in Gaelic. The shake on "high A" is vivi. The other shakes are represented by rr, according to where the beats or shakes are taken from. This seems to be a contraction of gearradh, a shake. A simple touch of a note before opening is always represented by a single r. For instance, such a word as radin signifies that B is to be touched with "low G" (lùdag) before opening; din is "low A" with D grace note. Ho radin, is the C note o, with "high G" grace note keeping the ra below D note, also an A note.
Rules for the grace note scheme:
1 All grace notes and grace note types are forestrokes, that is, they occur before the notes they embellish. They are appoggiaturas or semi-quaver notes, or accaciaturas or demi-semi-quaver notes, which predominate.
2 All grace notes in canntaireachd are represented by consonants.
3 All compound forms are made up by combining single forms.
4 All leading or scale notes are represented by vowels.
5 All note forms with m or n in them contain "low a"
6 Grace notes h and d are qualifying or modulating grace notes.
7 Doublings are represented by dr, triplings by tr, compound types by combinations of these.
8 Open doublings above D are represented by dir, such as dirie, where the note is doubled by itself and the note above it. Dr denotes closed doublings, dir open doublings.
Grace note forms defined:
Grace note forms consist of single, double, and compound. The single group includes all simple forms, together with the "dà-lugh" variation form. The double includes the single and double types of "trì-lugh" and "ceithir-lugh." The single type of trì-lugh is composed of three low A's graced by G, D, and E grace notes and it precedes the note embellished. An example of this is "hininindo," the syllable do being C graced by D. This type is called fosgailte or open and is opposed by the double or closed form, represented by such a word as "hindirinto." The latter is called a-steach or inside, when opposed to a type like "hodorito," which is said to be a-mach or outside, as the grips are taken from the note played. The types last named are also breabach forms, having a "kick" note at the finish. The crunn-lugh or ceithir-lugh forms are also fosgailte, a-mach and a-steach. The word "hadatri" is a-steach, when opposed to "hadatri," which is a-mach. "Hiodrata-tiri" is a pure "cliabh-lugh" — the chest or creel of fingers, because every finger on the chanter is engaged in some way, either acting or acted on. In bagpipe music the variations are all named from the acting fingers, and the old pipers counted their time from the number of fingers engaged in the several parts of a tune. "Chin-drine" may be taken as an example of "leum-lugh," the jump of the fingers. This is low A played by D grace note, then G, doubled by D, low A then opened and F rapidly opened from it. "Hiriri' is an example of a beat form. The playing of two low A's by touching low G twice with the little finger is "ririn" or "ru-rin." The prosodic quality of the syllables forming the notation, together with the spacing and punctuation, give the time and rhythm of the tunes.
General Structure of "Ceòl-mór" or "pìobaireachd":
1 Ùrlar, Ground } Òrdag   Leumlugh } Dùbailt, doubling.
2 Iulugh, dà-lugh, two finger variation
3 Trì-lugh, three finger variation { Fosgailte
} Breabach
4 Ceithir-lugh, four finger variation
Key words:
1 Gearradh, a shake.
2 Crathadh, a shake.
3 Ceilirich, a warble.
4 Dà uair, twice.
5 Trì uairean, thrice.
[Want of space forbids our following this important and fascinating subject further].

5(b) The ancient Highland manner of noting classical pipe-music by a combination of various syllables by which tunes could be more easily recollected by the learner. It was evidently based on the composer’s conception of the sounds of the notes, and this accounts for different words having been used by different pipers. Canntaireachd can hardly be looked upon as a complete system of notation if no means be employed to give the exact duration of each note. A teacher whose mother tongue was Gaelic, would have no difficulty at all in supplying this deficiency with his voice, and the system of canntaireachd would certainly in such cases, be of great assistance to the memory. When one is accustomed to the words of canntaireachd, it would be fairly easy to bring out a tune from them on the pipes, provided the air were known to the performer, but should he not be acquainted with the air, the correct performance thereof would not be so easy. Charles Bannatyne Esquire, MB, CM of Salsburgh, Holytown, has worked out a complete key to canntaireachd as used by the MacCrimmons. It is the only detailed one that has ever been published, and as he has kindly placed it at our disposal, it is reproduced here in full. “The bagpipe scale from la to d’ in the key of A natural was formed by ancient musicians to give variety to modal tunes, in three pitches or keys, hence the confusion in the minds of many; in other words piobaireachds are ancient modal tunes, played on an ancient instrument, whose compass is designed to allow the same modes to be rendered in three pitches, in order to give variety to the music. This is the secret of all pipe music as well as piobaireachds.” Three notations of canntaireachd were known to John Piper, the nurse of John Campbell of Islay:
1 The notation of MacCrimmon.
2 The notation of MacArthur.
3 The notation of Nether Lorn.
The first is given in the illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary. The second has not yet been found and the third was discovered about 1912 and a table of the forms used in it is below.
Key to Nether Lorn Canntaireachd:
  Low G Low A B C D E F G A
Scale with High G grace note him hin hio ho ha che he hi, chi
(high Ag-n.)
Scale with D grace note dam, bam dan to do - - - - -
Scale with E grace note em en eo eo ea - - - -
Scale with no grace notes em en o o a, da e, de ve, dhe di i
Siubhal hinen hinen hioen hoen haen chehin hehin hibin ien
Siubhal sleamhainn himem hinen hioeo hoeo haea cheche hehe hihi -
Leumluath to E hinbare hinbare hiobare hobare habare, harodde chebare hebare hibare ibare
Taorluath to Low A himdarid hindarid hiodarid hodarid hadarid chedarid hebarid hidarid idarid
Tripling or Taorluath Breabach himbabem hindaen hiotoeo hodoeo - - - - -
Crunluath himbandre hinbandre hiobandre hobandre habandre, harodde chebandre hebandre hibandre ibandre
The nomenclature of most of the different movements has for convenience been taken from the Piobaireachd exercises in Logan's Tutor, price 1s, and the examples here given refer to the staff notation examples given there and should be compared to them.

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