The tune is usually credited to Angus MacKay who was the son of Iain Dall, the blind piper of Gairloch. According to tradition, he attended a piping competition in Edinburgh and carelessly left his pipes unattended. The other pipers decided to attempt to sabotage Angus by piercing the bag in several places. When Angus, the best piper of his day, began warming up his pipes on the day of the competition, he discovered the punctures. A friend of his, named Mary, procured a sheep skin from which they formed a new mal or bag. With this new bag, Angus won the competition and composed Moladh Mairi in gratitude for Mary's help.
While this account is somewhat romantic, the most probable story as to the song's origin is more mundane. A daughter of MacLachlan of MacLachlan, the Chief of the clan, gave a wither's skin to the family's piper to construct a bag for his pipes. He was delighted with the gift and composed the tune in her honor. The above link and image below display the ancient music and notes about its origin.
references were taken from The Piobaireachd Society's database:
067 Moladgh Mari
Marys Praise for her gift [or] McLauchlans March D0 14 73
"The Piobaireachd Society is a charity registered in Scotland, No. SC001113"
What is Piobaireachd?
When the Highlands and Islands of Scotland adopted the bagpipe, perhaps some four hundred years ago, they began to develop the instrument and its music to suit their needs and tastes.
What emerged was the instrument we know today as the Great Highland Bagpipe, and a form of music, piobaireachd, which is unique to the instrument. It is a very stylized form of music. There is freedom in the theme or "ground" of the piobaireachd to express joy, sadness, or sometimes in the "gathering" tunes , a peremptory warning or call to arms.
Thereafter the theme is repeated and underlined in a series of variations, which usually progress to the "crunluath" variation, where the piper's fingers give a dazzling technical display of embellishment or gracenotes.
Click the Moladh Mairi link at the top of the page to see the entire image.
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This page was last updated on June 21, 2011.
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