Hioemtra haentra – One of the Cragich

The creation of this site was prompted by a persistent trickle of emails from total strangers, such as the following:

I make Renaissance and French Baroque Lutes.  Often, while I’m working I listen to piobaireachd.  The performance of ‘Hioemtra Haentra’ from Campbell Canntaireachd is sublime.  My attempts to track down a copy of this music in standard notation has led me to this email address.  I would very much appreciate any help you might offer in locating a copy (pdf or ?) of ‘Hioemtra Haentra”.
Thank you
~Ken Wryn

I’ve been receiving emails like this since 1999, and have long wanted to bring far-flung individuals who share my interest in this music together. Thank you, Ken, and all of you before him, for your encouragement. This is your site: we’re in this together as co-explorers, co-learners. As James Campbell of Kilberry told me in his Cambridge rooms in 1993, “There’s very little we know for certain about pibroch”.

This tune was transcribed by me from Campbell’s MS (ii.26) in mid-October 1997. I was electrified by the manuscript’s enigmas and spent a week, wrapped in woolly hat and scarf on the balcony of my Berlin bedsit, transcribing every tune that hadn’t been published by the Piobaireachd Society. I’d had the NLS microfilm for over 2 years, and handled the original with reverence in the National Library of Scotland, but only when I found myself living above a microfilm scanning bureau did I get round to producing a hard copy I could work from at home.

My transcription of this tune is still in handwritten canntaireachd – it has never, to my knowledge, been put into staff notation. I’d encourage students to learn it by ear from CDtrax 5009, and/or by studying the source. I’m not at all certain that my interpretation is correct – in particular, I am bemused by Campbell’s arrangement of syllables into vocables, I can’t see the musical logic in it. Please experiment with other rhythmic interpretations.

I hesitate to produce a score in staff notation because I’d have to add so much that is not specified by Campbell. Like figured bass, a canntaireachd score must be ‘realised’, and the skill of realising it is what I want to encourage here.

In my mind, the structure of phrases in the Urlar and each var is:

I’ I O I”

Campbell, however, consistently divides this structure into 3 uneven lines, each beginning with O:

O I’ I
O I”

This means that  there are only 4 phrases to learn (or notate) in each movement, and Campbell’s score can be abbreviated considerably. Here I rearrange the syllables into vocables that make more sense to me:

O   – hioemtra haentra hioembari chehentra
I   –
hobandre chehendre hobandre chehendro
hobandre chehendre hobandre chehimbao
I” hobandre chehendari hobandâre chehendro

I interpret “hen” as F grace to Low A. If you want staff notation, have a go at transcribing it yourself from the recording, perhaps with a friend’s help. But remember, the traditional way to learn pibroch is by listening and singing – not by reading. The Suzuki method of learning and teaching is nothing new and has many advantages – staff notation tends to be read too literally, burying the soul of the music. Technology allows us to return to a more traditional and, I believe, efficacious teaching method.

Explore posts in the same categories: Campbell Canntaireachd, Pibrochs

Tags: , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: