A decade before I fell in love with Scotland and her people, I fell in love with her music. The Tannahill Weavers came first, then Capercaillie, followed by a host of fiddlers, pipers, and flute-wielding Scotsmen. I easily have a dozen versions of “Are Ye Sleeping Maggie?” and “Hey, Johnnie Cope” on the CD racks that stretch across the wall of my writing study, and I never tire of singing along. (Results may vary.)
Traditional or not so traditional, with or without bagpipes, Scottish music fills the soul as well as the ear. Whether it sets your foot tapping or brings a tear to your eye, the music seldom leaves you unmoved.
Want something upbeat, sung with a broad swath of Lowland Scots? Have a taste of “Tranent Muir” from the Tannahill Weavers:
In the mood for something moody? Here’s “Aignish,” a haunting melody sung in Gaelic by Karen Matheson (she was the singer in the 1995 movie, Rob Roy) with Capercailllie:
You can find Scottish music anywhere you buy music online. My favorite site for listening, browsing, and learning is MusicScotland.com.
I also can’t get enough of composer / harpist William Jackson and his albums, A Scottish Island, Inchcolm, and The Ancient Harp of Scotland.
If you want to listen to a true Scot singing the traditional tunes of her Lowland home, Jean Redpath has no peer. I first heard her on Garrison Keillor’s radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. Whenever I drive around Galloway or the Borders, Jean Redpath lives in my CD player (and doesna seem to mind). Look for her solo work on The Songs of Robert Burns in seven volumes. Treasures, all.
Sometime last century I was in a wee shop in Castle Douglas listening enraptured to a Celtic harpist on the shop’s sound system. When I asked the clerk if I she knew anything about the music, she handed me the CD cover. An American musician on an American label? Indeed, Sue Richards plucks her harp out on Hazel Grove, Morning Aire, and Grey Eyed Morn. Three real gems.
Many excellent performers of traditional Scottish music live (dare I say it?) in the United States. The guitar work of William Coulter on Celtic Crossings, Celtic Sessions, and The Crooked Road is exceptional. And Abby Newton plays her cello with genuine emotion on Crossing to Scotland and Castles, Kirks and Caves. Real stand-outs, both of them.
Until my next post, I leave you with a simple contest and one more ethereal tune from Karen Matheson and Capercailllie, “Oh Mo Dhuthaich”:
While you’re listening, kindly post a comment below, noting your favorite Scottish band, favorite Scottish tune, or your favorite Scottish style of music. No singing required.