The Royal Scots Cap Badge


The Half Finished Piobaireachd

The composing of this tune is said to have been shared by Padruig Mor MacCrimmon and his pupil Iain Dall MacKay.


In preparation for a visit to Macdonald of Clanranald who was at the time on Uist, MacCrimmon decided to compose a suitable piobaireachd for the occasion. He retired to his private apartment to compose but had difficulty with the ground which he could not quite get to his satisfaction. Iain Dall was listening outside Padruig's door. He struck up a measure so well adapted to what Padruig was trying for that Padruig came out and in delight said, “Ah! You have done it. The tune shall not bear the name I had meant for it but shall be called the half-finished tune as I made two parts and you have made the other.”


The above paraphrases Angus MacKay's account. From the story, one can, with some reason, speculate that the tune may have been conceived as a Salute but the truth of the matter is unlikely to be revealed. The tale not only sheds a small light on Padruig's approach to composing but also, his remarkably tolerant attitude. Or to put the matter another way, judging by this account the greatest composer of piobaireachd did not appear to be cursed with excessive egotism.


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