View Full Version : Canntaireachd instruction?

Ian Arthur
04-12-2002, 09:27 PM
I was wondering if anyone had advice on the best way to learn Canntaireachd without regular access to a teacher. I understand that there is instruction available in Seumas MacNeill's "Tutor for Piobaireachd" but wondered if there were other sources that might incorporate recordings on CD or tape. Any advice would be appreciated.

04-13-2002, 07:13 AM

04-13-2002, 10:57 AM
Go here http://www.murrays.nu/canntaireachd.htm

it will explain some of it.


Ron Teague
04-13-2002, 05:59 PM
John MacLellan has a piping tape out on canntaireachd with a wee booklet. Very helpful. I think Ian Sherwood has it. If he doesn't he can get it no doubt.


Ron Teague

Ian Arthur
04-13-2002, 06:37 PM
Thanks very much for the suggestions. It occurs to me now that I should've posed another question in my original post--& perhaps it would be better to start another thread--but,...how did people in this forum learn Canntaireachd? Private instruction, workshops, self-tuition? Just curious.
Thanks again Ian

Ron Teague
04-13-2002, 09:20 PM
Ian-there is a lot of mixed feeling about canntaireachd. Most great players develop their own vocables. the nether lorn canntaireachd is the basis of a lot of tunes but there is the gesto canntaireachd which is also used but there is no real systematic devlopment of this in print. I've tried to get the master of this old form to give me a clear translation of it but he doesn't email or write me, probably too busy. I learned the system from John MacLellan who was one of my teachers. I like canntaireachd because it helps me remember which grace note to use where, but I am a lover of things old out moded (hey I play the pipes and ceol mor to boot). It turns out that alot of movments in piobaireachd are not covered in the nether lorn cantaireachd. I suppose we have to improvise as we go along.


Ron Teague

Tom Kirkham
04-14-2002, 05:15 PM
I have a few things for you to consider-

Learning Canntaireachd is not necessary to learn Piobaireachd. It really is a novelty since the Piobaireachd written in staff notation in contemporary books is closer to how it is played than the canntaireachd.

Also, I think better vocables exist than what what canntaireachd offers, based on trying to emulate the sound of the note compinations. For instance, the canntaireachd for a c grace note followed by a grip to C is odro, whereas the vocable "sha-ba-da" sounds alot more like what is actually played. (Thanks to Mike Cusack for that one!)

If you really just want to learn canntaireachd just because you want to learn it, I siggest purchasing several of the Piobaireachd society tune books. Each one has an introduction to canntaireachd that equates the embellishments to the vocable, including individual notes. Many of the tunes in these books also have the written canntaireachd along with the staff notation. I suggest you referer to the canntaireachd guideline and simply write down the canntaireachd under each musical moavement in the book. After awhile you will have the common ones memorized.

Kevin Kerchaert
04-29-2002, 11:20 PM
Donald Lindsay has a good course - two tapes and a 12-page booklet - I've found it quite helpful.

I've been looking at all the vocables and agree that - as spelled - they don't quite relate to the sound coming out of my chanter (well, maybe that's more my fault than Campbell's :blush: ) so I started playing with the pronunciations and found that if, instead of pronouncing the syllables, I pronounce each letter, I get something more like the sound coming out of my chanter. So my crunluath from low A (hinbandre) might go like h-in-b-an-d-rrr-e with a slight breath on the h simulating the gracenote, and the others following along in cadence, with b as "buh" and d as "duh" (OK OK enough of that!) It seems to work with taorluaths, also. And hiharin as heee-ha-rrr-in sounds more like it, at least to my novice ear.


Vermont Piper
04-30-2002, 05:37 AM
Donald Lindsay's Canntaireachd course is EXTREMELY helpful - the book, a workbook really, is very easy to understand. I believe it's $60, with the book and two(?) tapes. You could contact him at invrmark@mail.albany.com (mailto:invrmark@mail.albany.com)

Good Luck!


07-24-2002, 06:11 AM
Originally posted by Bagpipe Thief:
Donald Lindsay's Canntaireachd course is EXTREMELY helpful - the book, a workbook really, is very easy to understand. I believe it's $60, with the book and two(?) tapes. You could contact him at invrmark@mail.albany.com (mailto:invrmark@mail.albany.com)

Good Luck!

JackieI evidently need even more good luck... I have tried contacting this email address a few times, but get "unsucessful delivery" or some such useless message. Does anyone else carry this book and tapes?

Steve Brittain
07-24-2002, 01:45 PM
I believe Donald's email address is "invrmark@albany.net". and yes, his canntaireachd "course" is excellent.
take care

Alasdair McAndrew
07-24-2002, 07:12 PM
My understanding (as a piobaireachd newbie) is that "canntaireachd" just means "singing". There's nothing particularly magical about this: all musicians will sing at some stage to get the phrasing of a tune sorted out. And anyone who has ever taught music knows that the best way of getting your students to learn how a piece "goes" is for them to sing it.

Subtle aspects of phrasing and articulation can never be obtained from the printed page alone, no matter how precise the score.

So canntaireachd (=singing) is vital for teaching and learning. I don't see that there's anything to be gained by using a formal canntaireachd such as Nether Lorn, to one's own private syllabization. My own teacher uses a personal mixture of Nether Lorn and his own syllables, and it does very well. And I have found it invaluable for learning the correct rhythm of some of the embellishments, as well as for the phrasing of a tune.

It has been pointed out to me that singing a tune silently to yourself is a valuable and legitimate form of practice, and it doesn't require a chanter or a set of pipes. Just don't do it at the dinner table!


Sue Mack
07-25-2002, 05:52 AM
Just yesterday I was browsing my favorite pipe music source (PortlandAmerica in Maine) and bought Andrew Wright's "Whispers of the Past/Volume 1" cd of Canntaireachd and Piobaireachd, (Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Piping & Drumming School). What a find! I have only had time to listen to a bit of it, but already I can feel the "Old Woman's Lullabye" more clearly in my head from listening to Andrew's canntaireachd. Instead of singing "dum DUM de dum" in the shower, I can now sound quite authentic by singing "Hindorodin..." I have been making feeble attempts over the past couple of years, but this album helps clarify the whole concept. I strongly advise anyone struggling to learn piobaireachd to look up this cd. www.portlandamerica.com (http://www.portlandamerica.com) is one source, for sure. cheers, Sue

07-25-2002, 06:23 AM
Yep, that CD is one of the reasons why I want to finally learn a formal canntaireachd. I find myself singing along with Andrew a lot, and I'd like to understand it better. It will also make my instruction go easier, and no doubt aid in memorization.

07-26-2002, 10:43 PM
Ill do this again Maybe it slipped by

Go here http://www.murrays.nu/canntaireachd.htm


A Celtic Traveler
07-27-2002, 10:00 AM
Canntaireachd is something that usually generates much interest and controversy, probably due to its secret and unusual nature. Without a doubt, it is mysterious - I often feel that there are things "hidden" within the words that only the devoted scholars of the music are able to unlock. It was this strange language - made up of vowel sounds and consonants that saved the music from being lost forever. It was probably sung mostly by the women - for the frightened child who was trying to go to sleep. It involves great patience and is subject to interpretation but the piobaireachd society charts are the easiest to follow. One thing canntaireachd does is allow the tempo to be developed rather quickly - it is determined by where the breaths are taken - if you find yourself breathing in the middle of a word - you are going too slowly. Some of the Campbell stuff shows where to breathe - this is quite helpful.
Bob Nicol developed his own version that worked very well. The common thread of canntaireachd is "communication" and "interpretation" and however this is achieved will be okay with the composer, whoever that may have been.
Good luck with your work. It is indeed part of the craft.

08-04-2002, 04:49 PM
I learned from Scott MacAuley & Bruce Gandy at the College of Piping in PEI. If you take a workshop with Scott you will learn the "set" piobs. for the year along with the canntaireachd. (Your homework after class is to write out the canntaireachd for all the piobs you learned that day, then the next day you will all sing them together with Scott). A very valuable tool, indeed, and I have all of this on tape for future reference. Sure, you can make up your own vocables, but where's the challange in that? I prefer to keep the tradition going, and hopefully pass it on to my grandchildren, one day.