By Lauchie MacLellan, John Shaw, Alistair MacLeod
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Extra resources for Brigh an Orain A Story in Every Song
1 In recounting the chance encounter some twenty years later, Lauchie made it clear that, however unlikely the setting, the socializing and entertainment provided by the Gaels from Ireland was a high point in a long and varied seasonal cycle of “working away” that to this day characterizes the working life of Cape Bretoners. Much of the pleasure in the sessions arose from the ease with which Lauchie and the Irish workers took to each other, sharing conversation and drink as well as songs, yet the significance for Lauchie extended beyond the immediate circumstances to a developing mutual awareness of a tradition shared by all of them – highly valued and like no other.
It presented itself to his imagination with all those associations, which often give to music its greatest power over the mind. While he played or sung those simple artless melodies, his eyes frequently streamed with tears” (P. MacDonald 1784, 1). In the late spring of 1978 during a recording session, John Dan (Iain mac Dhòmhnaill Bhàin) MacNeil of Ste Rose, a singer whom Lauchie regarded highly, sang “An Corra-Ghiullan Glas” (The Exceptional Grey Lad), a narrative song recounting the return of the favourite suitor in disguise on the wedding day of his betrothed, and his success, through the use of coded verses, in eloping with her.
Bha iad a’ falbh réidh: bha am barrachd tuigs’ aca air a’ bhàrdachd. (There were those who liked the words to a song to be profound, thoughtful, and to the point, and others might prefer to get more from the melody – they had a keen ear for music. But there were many who were accomplished at singing songs and had them in good settings. ”73 The latter criterion, in addition to the formal features of metre and rhyme, included sequencing and logical development. 74 The audience and the occasion, here as elsewhere (Finnegan 1977, 154), contributed to the choice of songs.