David Murray, President of the Piobaireachd Society from 1982-1988, has died aged 95.
David was a first class player with an extensive knowledge of piping, pipers and pipe music. He was devoted to piobaireachd and he worked tirelessly for the Society. He was proud to have played The Unjust Incarceration to J P Grant of Rothiemurhchus, the editor of the early second series of Piobaireachd Society books. It was the last piobaireachd the Sherriff was to hear.
David’s interest was in the various ways Piobaireachd was written, and how gracenote timing differered in the early collections. He awakened the debate which continues to this day about the meaning of the differences. He was ever keen to explore all sources. He particularly disliked how Archibald Campbell standardised the hirarin to two crotchet beats when it was not shown this way by any of the other writers, and he wrote and talked extensively about this. He became increasingly sceptical of Campbell’s editing, but was otherwise encouraged by the Society’s work. He was especially delighted when Robert Reid’s playing was published.
Here is an example of David playing and discussing piobaireachd in a BBC broadcast. His playing illustrates clearly his view of how hiharin can be timed more than one way.
He was pupil of Willie Ross and Robert Reid, but was more than willing to listen to and accept other ways than those taught to him. He wanted to hear the player, not the player mimicing the teacher.
He wrote and broadcast extensively about all aspects of piping, and his book Music of the Scottish Regiments contains “a wealth of military folklore and personal experience derived from David Murray’s thirty years of service and a lifelong passion for the music of the Scottish Regiments”.
He had a distinguished military career, first in the Royal Scots and the Black Watch, then in his beloved Cameron Highlanders. He was particularly pleased that so many of the regiment were gold medallists. Beneath a stern military exterior lay unending warmth, kindliness, and humour, and he was always ready with an encouraging word.