1. Introduction
  2. Why is singing more important than the written music
  3. How do teachers know what to sing to their pupils
  4. What is the Campbell Canntaireachd
  5. Other forms of Canntaireachd
  6. An example of a tune

How do teachers know what to sing to their pupils

Most pipers learn from a teacher, and the teachers themselves have been taught by someone singing to them, many years previously. This is sometimes called "the oral tradition" – because in theory, the singing has passed down the music, through the generations of pipers. If you go to a highly respected teacher, it can be possible to work out the links – i.e. who has sung to whom - which bring you the music transmitted orally down the centuries. It may surprise you to work out how few links there are, to bring you right back to the singing of the MacCrimmons.

The words used by teachers when they sing are not important, though many use roughly the same words (see below for details of the Campbell Canntaireachd, an example of words which can be used). What is far more important are the tone and volume, and of course the tempo, of the different tunes. Some teachers use gestures and "conduct" the pupil, again to emphasise certain notes. These small shades of expression cannot be expressed on the written page.