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principal hereditary officers of the tail or suite of the chief. The first performed, marching while he played, one of those airs which may be said to compose a part of the historical tradition of certain exploits connected with some clan, or the localities of their habitation. A second succeeded, and played in the same spirit; then a third and fourth, &c. &c. There were not a few who accompanied the motion of their bags with an almost convulsive motion of their body. I perceived that the airs were not the same; but there is so little variety in the shrill tones of the instrument, the extent of its gamut is so limited, that I can readily allow for the belief of some travellers, that a single and the same air was executed by all the competitors. The emotions expressed by the countenances, and applauses of the judges, guided me as much as my ear in distinguishing the difference between the Pibroch, a kind of variations or warlike marches, and the Coronach, or dirges, and the Reels or dancing tunes. It sometimes seemed to me, that the barbarous scream of the bagpipe protracted itself beyond the intention of the player, and that the prolonged echo of one note, clashed with the ensuing note, in spite of the interval which separates them in the gamut. But a music of this kind would, even to a stranger, inspire other feelings among the sombre caves of the moun
tains, or on the sea coast amidst the howling of the - waves.
The Gaelic bagpipe differs from the musette of our provinces, more in its form than in its tone.
It has only one pipe and three drones; the pipe is pierced with eight holes, seven before and one behind. The imperfect gamut is only composed of five notes. By the deficiency of the fourth and seventh, the most common airs have but one tone, and are very poor in modulations.*
A bagpipe, a claymore, and a complete Highland costume, were the reward of the victor.
This annual concert is held under the auspices of the Highland Society, which also gives charming balls to the Edinburgh ladies; and as they are as fond of dancing as of music and literature, the Highland Society is very popular here. Its serious intention is the research of national antiquities, in concurrence with that of the Society of Antiquarians. Valuable information has been supplied by it on the subject of the poems of Ossian, about which, however, little question is at present mooted.
The music of the Scotch lowlands recedes every
* A more scientific author than myself, and who thinks that the music of the Chinese resembles that of the Gaels, says, that five notes of the Scotch gamut represent the tone of ut natural, ut re mi fa and sol, la. These five notes and their octaves, he adds, produce a variety of different combinations, and serve to form particular airs, which all have a basis of resemblance. It appears that the object has been to compensate for the poverty of the tune, by the diversity of the rhythm; and that in fact, it has been found necessary, in order to mark the time of the measure, to employ signs much more varied than those of our music. The fourth and seventh note, are nevertheless found in some Gaelic airs, which are doubtless more modern and now divested of barbarism. It would seem as if the singer avoided resting on these notes, which are only a kind of transition notes, and almost all syncopedy instead of composing an integral part of the melody. See the work of . M. Neckar de Saussure on Scotch music; Blair's Dissertation ; that of an Anonymous Author, &c. &c. .
day more and more from that of the highlands : but it preserves in the midst of all its modifications, a greater tendency towards the plaintive expressions of sorrow, than the buoyant cadences of joy. Generally speaking, the music of the three kingdoms has no really gay airs, but such as are adapted to silly words, and burdens without rhyme or reason, like the flon flon, ta ta, and the landerirette of our national songs. Accordingly, the pangs of love, or the sublime melancholy whick the lugubrious aspect of nature in a gloomy cli mate inspires, and the mourning weeds of a country bewailing its lost independence, its ancient kings, and its heroes, &c., are probably better expressed by Burns, in his ballads, than the differently-accented language of anacreontic gaiety. Those, who, at the Gymnase, have heard Perlet parody Burns' song,
“A highland lad my love was born," &c. . would find some difficulty in believing that Haydn, Mozart, Pleyel, &c. introduced several Scotch ballads into their compositions ; but they have really done so, and that successfully, as Ross has done since.' The Scotch are proud of this distinction. They self-complacently repeat that David Rizzio, the friend of Mary Stuart, perfected their music. Others maintain that James I., who reigned in the fifteenth century, was the creator of the art in Scotland. This prince introduced organs and choirs into the cathedrals. He loved to play on the harp, an instrument formerly as natural here
as the bagpipes. In fine, according to other authorities, the Scotch music was early adopted in Italy, and it is its alliance with the Italian which imparts to the latter its incontestible superiority over all known music. This is a seriously entertained opinion, and I state the circumstance, for fear it should be thought that I borrow it from Captain Lismahago.
While instituting researches into the character of the genius of the immortal Burns, I hope to be enabled to acquire more precise notions of Scotch music, as associated with its poetry. The poetical song or ballad, is an important branch of Scotch literature; in Scotland, more than elsewhere, it is the echo of popular character, because the ballad makers have never abstracted their eyes from their native mountains, in order to invoke the Greek Olympus and Parnassus. Each locality in this country has its tradition, its worship, and its ballad. The collection of Border Songs, made by Sir W. Scott, is a poetical commentary on the History of Scotland. The songs of the Highlands possess too much analogy with those of the Lowlands, to escape embarrassing such as wish to connect them with the pretended poems of Ossian. I should be more inclined to yield credit to the authenticity of the Ossianic literature, such as Macpherson has transmitted it, if the art of printing alone had been its preserver: the real songs of oral tradition, exhibit so different a physiognomy. But this is not the proper place to revive a discussion occasioned by the pheno
inenon of three epic poems, depicting manners either forgotten, or invented by a modern. The true Gaelic songs, like those of the Lowlands, the songs of Burns, and those of Sir Walter Scott, exhịbit nothing of an Ossianic character. Those exclusively national airs, do not, nevertheless, lose their privilege of disputing the palm in the drawing-rooms of Edinburgh, with the airs of Rossini, which are the vogue on this side the Tweed as well as the other. I have observed the songs of Burns to electrify a society, which had only derived a factitious enthusiasm from the most scientific sonatas. This is the peculiar privilege of all that is really national.
There is an observation to be made, which I consider just, but which a Scotchman will not readily acknowledge; these love songs serve as an antidote to that spirit of puritanism, which tends to the diffusion of a funeral veil over every Scotch phy. siognomy. The inquisitorial tyranny exercised in Scotland by the presbyterian clergy, would condemn all the Scotch without exception to the austerity of Davie Deans, (Heart of Midlothian.) The somewhat profane songs of Burn, do not, however, undermine morals, like the sonnets of Moore; but they constitute a puissant ally of dancing like them proscribed by the General Assembly. Poor Effie Deans, your father was, nevertheless, in the right! but all the daughters of Scotland, without having the prudence of Jeannie, are not seduced by George Robertsons.