Music of Scotland
Scotland’s traditional music in many ways forms the foundation of the country’s national identity and a key element of its culture. Large scale emigration from Scotland over several centuries, resulting in the presence of many more Scots outside the country than within its borders, means that echoes of Scottish traditional music can be found in many different parts of the world.
The origins of traditional Scottish folk music are lost in the mists of time. There are close links between the roots of much of Scotland’s music and the Gaelic tradition that came from Ireland: and in some ways Scottish and Irish folk music are similar. However, in other ways they have retained identities that are quite distinct, in part because of the influence in Scotland of other traditions, notably those associated with the Old Norse and Scots languages.
It is thought that the music of the Picts was based on the harp, but like their language, all further information has been lost. As a result, the oldest music to which any form can be given was probably the singing and harp playing of the Gaels. Traditional folk ballads probably also date back to the dawn of antiquity, sung in all the various languages once in use across what is now Scotland.
The harp was replaced as the most popular instrument by the Great Highland Bagpipe or A’ Phìob Mhòr during the 1400s. This gained a hold, especially, across the clans of the Highlands and Islands before later being taken up with enthusiasm by the Scottish Regiments of the British Army, and spread by them to all parts of the British Empire.
Traditional Scottish music diminished in popularity during the middle decades of the 1900s: but the 1960s saw a radical roots revival in which young musicians rediscovered and made popular many of the traditional elements of Scottish music. The musicians of the 1970s, and since, built on the renaissance of the 60s and traditional music in Scotland is arguably now more popular than it has ever been.
A country that is renowned the world over for its traditional music, Scotland’s traditional scene is diverse and full of surprises. From folk music to Celtic fusion, the 21st century has brought forth a whole new wave of musicians and bands that are experimenting with the very idea of what Scottish traditional music is and spoiler; it’s not all about the bagpipes. While guitar bands and indie groups seem to have become the most popular musical exports in the past few decades, the traditional scene is fighting back and thriving in the process as artists continue to push the boundaries of what has come to be expected.
FLOWER OF SCOTLAND
I LOVE A LASSIE
Inspired by Lauder’s love for his wife Nancy, the song became a worldwide hit in English speaking countries during the early 1900s. Worth a mention is the corrupted version of this tune, commonly sung by fans of Partick Thisle FC – although the jury is out on whether or not Sir Harry would have approved… I’m thinking not, but there are few who won’t recognize the original song’s catchy chorus:
I love a lassie, a bonnie bonnie lassie,
She’s as pure as a lily in the dell,
She’s sweet as the heather, the bonnie bloomin’ heather,
Mary, my Scots bluebell.
AULD LANG SYNE
The song is thought to have gained worldwide prominence thanks to band leader Guy Lombardo, who instructed his band to play a rendition of the song live at New York City’s Roosevelt Hotel on New Year’s Eve 1929. The performance was broadcast live over the radio that night to millions of homes, resulting in a tradition which has stood the test of time.
THE BONNIE BANKS O' LOCH LOMOND
I'M GONNA BE (500 MILES)
ALLY's TARTAN ARMY
The lyrics ‘we’re representing Britain and we’ve got to do or die, for England cannae dae it cos’ they didnae qualify’ were quite amusing at the time, as Scotland was the only home nation to make it to Argentina that year. Oh, how the tables have turned…
The footage of Andy Cameron performing this on Top Of The Pops decked out in tartan scarf, tammy and Scotland fitba’ shirt is well worth a watch.
DONALD WHERE'S YOUR TROOSERS?
SCOTLAND THE BRAVE
THE JEELY PIECE SONG
Oh ye cannae fling pieces oot a twenty storey flat,
Seven hundred hungry weans’ll testify, to that.
If it’s butter, cheese or jeely, if the breid is plain or pan,
The odds against it reaching earth are ninety-nine tae wan.
WILD MOUNTAIN THYME
And we’ll all go together to pick wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather.
Will ye go, lassie, will ye go?
IN A BIG COUNTRY
ALLY BALLY BEE
Ally bally, ally bally bee,
Sittin’ on yer mammy’s knee,
Greetin’ for a wee bawbee,
Tae buy some Coulter’s candy.
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