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Respecting tradition: Scots a model?

Desert Dancer 10 Feb 03 - 03:43 PM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 10 Feb 03 - 05:09 PM
smallpiper 10 Feb 03 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,Dave Segal, Newcastle. 10 Feb 03 - 07:57 PM
Frankham 10 Feb 03 - 08:32 PM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Feb 03 - 08:53 PM
Desert Dancer 10 Feb 03 - 11:16 PM
Boab 11 Feb 03 - 03:01 AM
Davetnova 11 Feb 03 - 05:58 AM
Bob Bolton 11 Feb 03 - 07:58 PM
Boab 12 Feb 03 - 03:05 AM
Nigel Parsons 12 Feb 03 - 05:05 AM
Desert Dancer 13 Feb 03 - 01:24 PM
smallpiper 13 Feb 03 - 03:33 PM
Frankham 13 Feb 03 - 05:41 PM
GUEST,Q 13 Feb 03 - 06:30 PM
Bob Bolton 14 Feb 03 - 07:27 AM
sian, west wales 14 Feb 03 - 10:10 AM
smallpiper 27 Mar 03 - 07:09 PM
Desert Dancer 27 Mar 03 - 07:43 PM
toadfrog 27 Mar 03 - 08:08 PM
Strupag 28 Mar 03 - 07:57 AM
Alasdair 28 Mar 03 - 08:05 AM
toadfrog 29 Mar 03 - 03:28 PM
smallpiper 30 Mar 03 - 04:36 AM
Gurney 30 Mar 03 - 05:25 AM
Sliding Down The Bannister At My Auntie's House 30 Mar 03 - 05:35 AM
paulo 30 Mar 03 - 12:57 PM
Geoffw 30 Mar 03 - 01:44 PM
GUEST,Geordie 31 Mar 03 - 01:14 PM
Malcolm Douglas 31 Mar 03 - 01:57 PM
robinia 01 Apr 03 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,Geordie 01 Apr 03 - 07:50 AM
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Subject: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 03:43 PM

So, I'm an American Anglophile, and I read a lot of these commentaries about how the "English have no respect for their own folk music traditions" where so often the Scots and Irish are set up as examples of societies that do a better job at it. (The Americans are oft cited as examples too, although, usually one of us will pipe up to say that despite the advantage of the Library of Congress, the mass culture is clueless ... but I digress.)

Well, I was reading a nice Musical Traditions article by Ian A Olsen (of Aberdeen) giving an overview and history of the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, which some 100 years after it's initiation is now published in its entirety:

Edited by Pat Shuldham-Shaw and Emily B Lyle, together with the assistance of Peter Hall, Andy Hunter, Elaine Petrie, Adam McNaughtan, Sheila Douglas and Katherine Campbell

Published by Mercat Press for the University of Aberdeen in association with the School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh. Eight Volumes.

Vol 1: Nautical, military and historical songs and songs in which characters adopt the dress of the opposite sex; Vol 2: Narrative Songs; Vol 3: Songs of the countryside and of home and social life; Vol 4: Songs of courtship, night visiting songs, and songs about particular people; Vols 5, 6 & 7: Songs of love and marriage; Vol 8: Songs of parting and children's songs, general indexes and commentaries on the whole collection (1981-2003). Individual volumes £35.00 each. The entire set £225.
and I came upon this paragraph:

"There was another interesting factor which soon came to light. Greig had spent most of his working life extolling the (drawing-room) songs of the 'National Songbook' composers - Burns, Hogg, Lady Nairne and the like - the 'glories' of 'Scottish Song'. (Modern English folkies who envy the state and status of Scottish traditional song forget the hard reality that these composers form an almost impenetrable layer over Scottish song culture in general. As far as the songbooks, schools, media and expatriates are concerned, that's all that there is to it). But Greig and Duncan found that 'the people' virtually disregarded such fine stuff - and although both were willing to take anything, from music hall to playground songs, they were not offered the 'glories' of Burns et al."

Those of you who've lasted this far, here's my question: how do you respond to the comment quoted above? Are the Scots really doing as good a job as advertised in the current revival of Scottish folk song? Or is it a case of "the grass is always greener..."? Who really has the greener grass? Why? Why not?

~ Becky in Tucson (that's Arizona)


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 05:09 PM

I think the point is that the English media will actively rubbish English traditional music, song and dance at the slightest opportunity. On the other hand Celtic (sic) music will get serious exposure.


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: smallpiper
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 06:43 PM

Absolutely Peter, absolutely!


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: GUEST,Dave Segal, Newcastle.
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 07:57 PM

Celtic Music be it Scottish or Irish enjoys mainstream popularity
worldwide because the people of these countries support and value
their music, English Folk Music on the other hand is a minority
interest with little support outside a small and decreasing band
of devotees, little wonder the media pay it scant regard.


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Frankham
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 08:32 PM

Here's an interesting problem. The Royal Scottish Society who standardizes tartans and music claims authenticity. I have heard that the real "clans" were never as standardized historically and much was if not made up was distorted. I have read that the real Scottish culture was Gaelic and was sent off to Canada or actually suppressed by authoritarian forces. I've also heard that the war pipes were not original but that the smaller country Scottish pipes were more a part of the original tradition before it became standardized by the academic folks in the Royal Scottish Music and Dance Society. It's kind of like Stephen Foster being taught as the representative of American folk music in Japan. Or the Square Dance as the national dance of the US (this was actually being considered by the Senate through a motion that was mercifully defeated in congress).

Who says who or what is folk music? Here, we argue about it but it hasn't become standardized by a Royal American Music and Dance Society,(yet).

Frank (opening up another can of worms).


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 08:53 PM

You have been told a confusing mixture of truth and nonsense, Frankham; "fakelore", to quote another active discussion.

This whole issue is a very complex one, and I'm far too tired to attempt to enlarge on it tonight. With luck, someone else will do it this time!


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 11:16 PM

Any Scots weighing in? (Apologies to smallpiper, if necessary - not sure which side of the border your pipes come from...)

~ Becky


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Boab
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 03:01 AM

Frankham--the clans were a genuine part of Scottish society. The tartans associated with those clans today are , in the greater part, fairly recent invention. [The bonnet flash was a much more common indication of belonging]. The national instrument of Scotland is not the 'Great Pipes", but the fiddle.Folk music is simply what folk sing and play. "Traditional" folk music, however, is ethnic in origin, and is a different branch of "folk".


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Davetnova
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 05:58 AM

It's also worth remembering that Scotland was not a single culture, the Highland /lowland divide was probably wider than the lowland/ northern English one.


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 07:58 PM

G'day Boab,

" ... The national instrument of Scotland is not the 'Great Pipes", but the fiddle ... "

Fron when ... to when ... ?

I seem to remember reading older texts that complained of how the arrival of the 'newfangled' and foreign fiddle, in the British Isles in the 17th century, has displaced the traditional instruments (crowd/crydd, lutes, citterns, &c, in the string area) and their music and replaced it with predominantly Italian fiddle tunes (like Greensleeves) and a host of Italian fiddle masters to promote/teach/arrange for the new instrument.

I certainly notice that most of the 19th century Edinburgh music books I possess profess to be arranged by persons with very Italian names (but I do also remember that Edinburgh music publishers used all sorts of foreign 'hack arrangers' ... such as some bloke called Beethoven ... ).

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Boab
Date: 12 Feb 03 - 03:05 AM

'Lo, Bob Bolton---
Now then--ye might as well ask with regard to the Welsh leek--"from when to when"? Or the English rose, or the bald eagle, or the---etc....... The detailed history of the fiddle in Scotland hasn't been one of my avidly-studied subjects! Perhaps some more -informed mudcatter can fill in the detail. A couple of wee points, though; many are the old Scottish melodies which just couldn't be played on the pipes, which are limited in their scope--while being ideally suited to the tunes which have been written for them. I believe, too that in auld times the fiddle in Scotland was somewhat different from the present day item. Again, some more Knowledgeable mudcatter may enlighten both of us?


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 12 Feb 03 - 05:05 AM

Desert Dancer: yes, I envy you the "Library of Congress" (even if it does sound as if it should contain multiple copies of 'Karma Sutra') but the advantage that library has in its ability to hold copies of nearly everything is that by the time the US got going most people could read and write, and a library was a good idea.

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 13 Feb 03 - 01:24 PM

Nigel, I had to re-read your "Congress" sentence several times to understand the joke - Ha! (Two nations separated... again.)

I'm refreshing this in hopes that someone else might like to consider the original question...?

~ B in T


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: smallpiper
Date: 13 Feb 03 - 03:33 PM

Desert Dancer no need for appologies I am an Irishman and I play Scotish Smallpipes - these pipes are a relatively new fangled contraption although they have a history going back to the 15th Century, the current version being born in the 1960's. They are from North of the Border and not to be confused with Border pipes which (depending on which side of the border you come from) are also known as Lowland pipes or Northumbrian Half Longs (I wonder what the Northumbrian Longs were ???)


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Frankham
Date: 13 Feb 03 - 05:41 PM

Thanks to you for informing me. I really don't know much about Scottish culture even though I have a Hamilton Tartan. I remember traveling through Cape Breton one time and stopping at the St. Ann's College. We met a fascinating woman there who had studied Scottish history and folklore and came to the conclusion that the Scots were "the biggest mutts in the world". (Not dogs, mind you, but all mixed up with various cultures). Scotland as I understand it came from Queen Scotia of Spain, the wife of Meletus, the King in early times. Scotia was one of the names given to Ireland, I believe, if I remember correctly. (You might want to correct me on this). The problem with national "traditions" is that they tend not to be monolithic. There exists in every nation sub-cultures that are different. So it may be that the thread might be renamed "Respecting tradition(s)."

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 13 Feb 03 - 06:30 PM

Have emigrated Scots and Irish continued to boost their folk music and customs? I think they have, and the market and exposure overseas adds a great deal to the home market as well. "Celtic" bands and "Irish" pubs are everywhere.
Immigrants from England, for the last hundred and fifty years as far as I can see, have been absorbed quietly, and have brought little of their folk music and culture with them.


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 14 Feb 03 - 07:27 AM

G'day Frank Ham(ilton),

The first recorded (by the Romans) names for Scotland and Ireland ... were given by the Romans. Beig a bunch of Mediterranean types sent, by Caesar, to the cold, dark north, they called Ireland Hibernia ... Roman fro the "land of Winter" and Scotland Scotia ... Greek (spoken by posh Romans) for "(land of) darkness".

You don't need aname until someone else needs to distinguish you from them ... or where you live from where they live.

Lots of "folk etymology" gets applied down the track - but this is where the names come from.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: sian, west wales
Date: 14 Feb 03 - 10:10 AM

Some of your original question might be 'informed' by "A Soundtrack for Scottish Tourism", a Scottish Arts Council/Scottish Assembly report found on the rather obtuse SAC website here   Go to the site map and, then, Publications to find it. There's another there, as well: Culture and Tourism: Case Studies.

OK - they're a government/quango perspective but they're part of the 'as advertised' debate.

sian


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: smallpiper
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 07:09 PM

Having spent last weekend at Melrose in the Scottish Borders at a smallpipe teaching weekend I have to report that there is much striffe in scottish music circles - there is a movement afoot to take the music (and I'm talking predominantly pipe music here) back to how it was before the military got hold of it and before it was standardised for competitions (incidently the same thing is happening with dance). This movement is being strongly resisted by the establishment.

I have to say that the stuff they are coming out with is brilliant - standard pipe tunes like "Hot Punch" played without all the dots and slashes and with a driving 6/8 jig time is bloody brilliant! And what they are doing with strathspeys is unbelieveable. I love it and can't wait t olearn more


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 07:43 PM

Thanks for the update, smallpiper. (And the thread recycling. :-)

~ Becky


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: toadfrog
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 08:08 PM

I have heard it said that one reason traditional music has survived so well in Scotland is that it is taught in schools. Of course, I don't know that. Is it true?


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Strupag
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 07:57 AM

If anyone has any doubts about the health of the state of the tradition here in the Highlands, just try and get a hold of the album put out by Sgoil Chiuil na Gaeltachd.
A couple of year's ago Plocton High Scool was designated as a National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music.
Dougie Pincock (ex Battlefield Band piper and bender of notes)was appointed director of the project and they have put out the second album by the pupils.
I thought I would be listening and saying that "it's a good effort for kids".
What I am saying is that it is a brilliant album and excellent despite the fact that it is done by kids.
I urge anyone to get it.
The album is Sgoil Chiuil (The Biggest Folk Band in the World EVER!!!)
Dougie has a contact address on the sleeve notes so I'm sure that you can get a copy through him at dougie.pincock@highland.gov.uk
If you don't like it you don't like music!


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Alasdair
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 08:05 AM

I think it's difficult to judge how well Scottish folk music is being perpetuated. Irish stuff is clearly doing a lot better and is much more widely known. I think that part of the reason for the relative strength of Irish and Scottish folk traditions is that they have helped to maintain a sense of identity that is clearly not English. In terms of contemporary culture, Ireland and Scotland (&wales for that matter) are probably not as distant from England as they would like to be.

Al


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: toadfrog
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 03:28 PM

Sandpiper: Any CD's you would recommend? I have an old record called A Controversy of Pipers (1983) which impressed me with the fact that there is piping more sophisticated than the heavy-handed military stuff. Had completely forgotten about that until you reminded me. So thanks!


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: smallpiper
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 04:36 AM

Anything by Hamish Moore, Iain MCInnes, Deaf Shepherd or even Old Blind Dogs. Anything from Cape Breton or Nova Scotia would probably be good too.


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Gurney
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 05:25 AM

Bob Bolton... Greensleeves an Italian tune? It was written by Henry the Eighth and you WILL send the royalties to Queen Liz, or the lads in black balacalavas will come knocking on your face....


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Sliding Down The Bannister At My Auntie's House
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 05:35 AM

Why are Irish always lumped together with Scotch?


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: paulo
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 12:57 PM

Alasdair - (& Wales for that matter) What folk music.

folkman - because they steal ech others music - and the English of course.

paulo


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Geoffw
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 01:44 PM

Greensleeves an Italian tune? Correct, well - sort of.

It was written by Henry the Eighth - Wrong! It is one of those myths that refuses to die out.

The tune we now know as "Greensleeves" was one of a whole host of "divisions" or variations on a "ground" or bass line.

Improvising divisions over a ground or bass line was common in the 16th century and a number of standard grounds were in circulation many of of which were of Italian origin including the ground over which Greensleeves was written. These divisions were not often written down, but an early eighteenth century publication called "The Division Flute" consists of written out divisions over a variety of grounds including a set called "Greensleeves to a Ground". This included among others the tune we now call Greensleeves. So Greensleeves has its origin in a set of improvised variations over an Italian bass line which happened to get written down. Although divisions over this ground were possibly known at the time of Henry VIII, it is likely that the set published in the division flute date from much later in the century, during the time of Elizabeth I.

Geoff


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: GUEST,Geordie
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 01:14 PM

I find this an interesting thread and as I am no expert on "traditions" I will make an inexpert observation. I believe that those cultures which respect tradition are normally those in danger of losing it and therefore do not take it for granted. If it is a struggle to keep a thing alive people will do what they can to preserve it. Hence the disregard, in some quarters, for traditional English music, whereas the celts had to defend the tradition and as a result have respected it. Just a thought.


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 01:57 PM

It's rather more complicated than that; let's not use the "Celt" word, though, as it's so misused as to be meaningless in this sort of conversation.

Let's talk about "Scots"; there is less doubt then as to what we mean. It's certainly true that, as England became more and more economically successful, many educated Scots began to worry about the increasing Anglicisation of Scottish culture (much in the same way that countries now worry about the enormous and distorting influence of American popular culture); people like Burns and his colleagues worked hard to establish and reinforce a "national" literatature and music to counter this. They drew for this on both "art" and "folk" traditions, and as a consequence the boundaries between -for example- art music and folk music in Scotland are far less obvious than they are in England.

The situation in England was rather different. Traditional culture was under threat just as much as it was in Scotland, but the perception of the situation was different. While in Scotland the process could be interpreted as a form of cultural imperialism and reacted to through cultural nationalism, that option was not available to the working classes in England. The process is better understood in terms of class than of nationality; the English workers were never the masters of a great empire. They were that empire's first colony.

The ruling classes had their own ideas about culture, and they meant "high" culture; the art music of mainland Europe. This, together with the mass of bourgeois popular music that became known as "national" music, was the model to which ordinary English people who wished to better themselves were taught to aspire. The music of the peasantry was considered, on the whole, to be quaint but childish; a thing to be put aside with other childish things, and studied as an agreeable hobby by antiquarians.

In fact, the divisions between popular and folk music in England were probably not particularly greater than those in Scotland; the perception, however, was very different, and that's what counts in the end. Regular attempts were made in England to re-incorporate folk music into the bourgeois art music model; John Gay in the 18th century, William Chappell in the 19th; Sharp, Vaughan Williams and their colleagues in the 20th. Without the option of calling on the kind of Nationalist impulses that see ones own culture being overwhelmed by another (identifiable as "foreign"), however, these efforts did not meet with the degree of lasting success that were achieved in Scotland. It was a political, class-based issue, but could not be put in those terms without attracting trouble. Scots could re-interpret it as a nationalist issue, but their cousins in England could not.

Without that focus, it is not surprising that the mass of English people have learned to despise their own traditional culture. They still have a strong taste for it, though; unfortunately they tend just to latch on to somebody else's rather than re-think their learned attitudes.


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: robinia
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 07:09 AM

Yes, and to Malcolm's historical explanation I would add a hearty amen to his opening remark on the "meaningless" (but all too power-laden!) way that the word "celtic" is currently employed. It seems as if anything from the British Isles is seen as part of an applaudable folk tradition, it gets thrown into this "preapproved" category, whether it belongs there or not... So I'm very interested Eliza Carthy's efforts to redirect the spotlight ....


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Subject: RE: Respecting tradition: Scots a model?
From: GUEST,Geordie
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 07:50 AM

Thank you Malcolm, I see what you mean. I also appreciate your point about the use of the word celtic. Do you think that some cultures, especially the Irish have adopted a North American view of their own tradition. I have often thought that. But, as I said, I am just an inexpert observer. Thanks again, very interesting.


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