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Scottish Saltire

A Guide To Scottish Music

Scottish Music, Musique cossaise, Schottische Musik, Msica escocesa, šoti muusika Шотландская музыка, Msica escocesa

Below is a quick guide to Scottish music.

Throughout the text we have tried to provide links such that you can purchase CDs, DVDs and books of some of Scotland's favourite artists. If you're still not sure what you might like, you may wish to try one of the many compilation albums available or contact us for some recommendations.

Scottish music comes in many forms.  First of all there are the Scottish Saltiresummer shows you will find throughout Scotland, mostly aimed at tourists. These shows host a predominance of tartan, bagpipes, highland dancing, comedy and songs of hills and heather - essentially the image many tourists have of Scotland.  They follow a successful recipe made famous by the television series 'The White Heather Club' broadcast in the 1960s. Artists such as Kenneth McKellar, Peter Morrison, Will Starr, etc. were favourites around the music halls and still are!

If dancing is your pleasure then there are several choices from the more formal Scottish Country Dance (SCD) to the less formal Ceilidh Dancing. Another popular form in Scotland is Highland Dancing which is essentially a solo or group performance. If you are keen to learn how to dance then there are a series ofvideos, CDs and DVDs available to help you.

There are hundreds if not thousands of SCD societies throughout the world. SCD goers tend to prefer music played to a strict tempo - bands such as the world famous Jimmy Shand, Jim Johnstone, John Ellis to name but a few. There are also a myriad of new bands following in their footsteps. Bands invariably comprise of two accordions, fiddle, piano, bass and drums. These bands also perform at the vibrant 'Accordion and Fiddle Club' scene throughout Scotland.

Increasing in popularity is the 'Ceilidh Dance' a variant of Scottish Country Dance where formality goes out of the window. A dance caller shouts out instructions to experienced dancers and beginners alike. The main objective isLion Rampant enjoyment, getting the dance steps wrong is almost irrelevant. Bands comprise of various line-ups ranging from the more sedate "SCD Band" formula to a full blown rock rhythm backing Celtic melodies. Bands such as the Craigenroan Ceilidh Band, The Occasionals and Alasdair MacCuish & Black Rose Ceilidh Band are amongst the most popular.

The folk circuit is where many Scots would look for a cultural night out. It is alive and vibrant and is not only about tradition. There are many contemporary song-writers as well as traditionalists. Artists such as Dougie MacLean, Eric Bogle, Hamish Imlach, Battlefield Band, Dick Gaughan, Tannahill Weavers, Phil Cunningham & Aly Bain have made a lucrative living playing to world-wide audiences.

Another large part of the folk circuit is the 'folk festival'.  Folk festivals comprise of a mixture of concerts, ceilidhs and workshops where young and learner musicians can seek tuition from some of Scotland's top folk artists. For a list of folk festivals please take a look at our events diary.

The Scottish Highland bagpipe forms another huge Scottish Piper attraction to visitors throughout the summer months. There are manypipe bands throughout Scotland and indeed there are hundreds more throughout the world. Pipe bands can be seen parading along town high streets or through highland games events - this is a sight to behold. Many of Scotland's most popular contemporary groups feature the great Highland Bagpipe e.g. Battlefield Band, Wolfstone andCeolbeg.

Scottish Fiddle Music also has it's place in events and concerts throughout Scotland today. Fiddle orchestras are prevalent of which The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra is possibly the name most famous world-wide but their are smaller orchestras in Dunkeld Kirriemuir, Elgin and Fochabers to name but a few, which have been in existence for decades.

Then there is Gaelic music, which again falls into two categories, the formal and the less so. The formal consists of gaelic choirs up and down the country with the mega event being the National Mod. The less formal are essentially concert hall based and consist of groups likeRunrig, Capercaillie, Clan na Gael.

Instrumentation throughout the different classifications includes Fiddle, Accordion, Bagpipes, Piano, Bass, Drums, Guitar, Bazouki, mandolin, whistle, flute. Although these instruments are typical, just about anything goes!

The above notes are guidelines, there is considerable overlap from one genre to the other.

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