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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Bruce MacGregor, the founder-member of Blazin' Fiddles, has put up some good video tutorials on playing traditional Scottish Music. Here's one of my favourites, on Ringing Strings.

Thanks to my fiddle teacher, who double-stops with the best, I am much better now at playing chords than I was, but I still don't incorporate them into my playing of Scottish tunes. I should - they are definitely part of the Scottish sound - but maybe it will all gel some time in the next five years. :)

 

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Discussion Starter · #22 · (Edited)
One of the nice things about going to the Music Week Blazin' in Beauly is the connection with 'The Strathspey King' James Scott Skinner.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Scott_Skinner



Skinner was a showman who as a lad played with a touring orchestra and I don't care for some of the many Scottish tunes that he composed because they are a bit 'music-hall' for me. Here's one that for me has this showy & sentimental quality, Silverwells, played by Iain Fraser - it is in his book mentioned in the OP:

 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
However, he did help to revive Scottish music and he did compose many wonderful tunes. I think he's out of favour at present because of his showmanship and his ebullient personality. He's the one who said (thinking of himself) - 'Talent does what it can - genius does what it must'.

He was classically trained and a very good violinist, and as a result some of the tunes he composed are difficult for the amateur fiddler to play - hobbyism does what it can get away with! :)

Here's one, Bovaglie's Plaid, which uses the harmonic, though I tend to miss that out. This one's a bit sentimental too, but I still think it very beautiful, and I enjoy playing it. It's played here by Alasdair Fraser, Iain Fraser's more famous brother:

 

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Discussion Starter · #24 · (Edited)
And there are many more Scott Skinner tunes that I know, play and love. I can't find a lovely jig of his, Rose Wood, on YouTube (except as part of a medley
), but I did come across a Scott Skinner traditional set played by Bonnie Rideout, another of my favourite fiddlers - or whom more anon! :)

 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
In Beauly, there are many associations with Scott Skinner - some are mentioned in this article, including the ironmonger's shop where my classes were held.
https://www.scotsmagazine.com/articles/blazin-beauly/

Taggart's keyboard class was held in an upper room in the Phipps Hall, built in the early twentieth century, but a venue where Scott Skinner performed. Apparently the building has an interesting history.
https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/shy-phipps-became-highland-institution-1-632358
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 · (Edited)
Bonnie Rideout is one of the diaspora Scottish fiddlers that I love.
http://www.bonnierideout.com/

Her playing of ancient pibrochs achieves a mystical quality.
Here's the Lament for the Bishop of Argyle, an ancient melody.


(I can play this - not well, but I do love it, and would recommend playing pibrochs to any of you that are Scottish fiddlers. I think working on the tone of pibrochs will help improve one's tone immeasurably.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Here's another of Bonnie Rideout's tunes which I love - Yell, Yell.

I can't find the sheet music for it, and I did once make it a project to learn it by ear. I had to leave that for other practice tunes, but I hope to return to it this year.

 

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Discussion Starter · #28 · (Edited)
A word of explanation that maybe should have gone in the OP.

I started this thread because of my love for the traditional fiddle music of Scotland, which has become my musical journey. (I call it Fiddle Trek...)

However, I decided to place my thread in the Strings section of the Instruments and Technique sub-forum because it's not about tunes or links so much as about fiddle lore and aids to learning the instrument.

I hoped and still do that (eventually!) I'll find another person on TC who both plays the fiddle and loves this repertoire. I would be very interested in hearing about their experience, especially if they are an 'adult learner' or a returner like me - but even fiddle prodigies are welcome too! :D

Oh joy if you live in the UK & we could meet up for a session. :)

Nigel Gatherer is not a fiddler, but he is a musician and an authority on Scottish Music, and a very nice person - I've been in touch with him on the Folk Music forum that I belong to,

Here's his useful and informative website.
http://www.nigelgatherer.com/

With this fab forum - http://www.nigelgatherer.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?fid=7
 

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Here is one of them, Anna Thug Mi Gradh Dhuit, or Annie is my Darling, from the Simon Fraser Collection of the early nineteenth century, played in a video tutorial with Rua Macmillan of Blazin Fiddles.

Bit more about Simon Fraser here - https://www.scottish-places.info/people/famousfirst1006.html

Link to the collection here - https://www.scotlandsmusic.com/Product/SM-QOL20J/the-simon-fraser-collection - with some more infornation about the collection.

Simon Fraser on IMSLP - https://imslp.org/wiki/The_Airs_and...s_of _Scotland_and_the_Isles_(Fraser,_Simon)

And finally, another Simon Fraser tune - Hard is my Fate - played by Iain Fraser

 
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Scottish Fiddle Accompaniment

The classic accompaniment is the cello. Here's Niel Gow with his brother Donald:


The University of Aberdeen has a great Scott Skinner site - https://www.abdn.ac.uk/scottskinner/index.shtml This includes some of Skinner's own recordings of his tunes. The bigraphy section notes:

Alexander Forbes Skinner (1833-1883) taught his young brother James to play tunes on the violin, and to 'vamp', or play a bass line on the cello. By the time he was eight, James was playing the cello at dances with local fiddler Peter Milne (1824-1908), who came from Kincardine o' Neill, Aberdeenshire.
According to some stories, Skinner could play the bass line in his sleep, not surprising as he had to travel long distances and the dancing went on for much of the night.

Alasdair Fraser is continuing this tradition in his partnership with Natalie Haas:

 
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Discussion Starter · #31 · (Edited)
Speaking of Alasdair Fraser - like many traditional players he has branched out into new ways of playing things so as to seem fresh and artistic, not same-old, same-old.

His playing with Natalie Haas these days engages my admiration, but not my heart.

But in his early heyday, he could fiddle the auld tunes rarely.

Our favourite cd of his is The Driven Bow.



What is good about Alasdair Fraser's playing on this cd, in my opinion, is the energy and pace, closely followed by his mastery of the ornaments, which in Scottish fiddle are based on the sound of the bagpipes.
On some of the tunes, those ornamented phrases sound so pipy and organic that I am awed.

I don't know of any other fiddler who can match him in that respect.

I will look later to see if I can find an example of what I mean.
 

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Piano Accompaniment

Most Scottish fiddle accompaniment is the standard I IV V three chord pattern. When I was in Beauly, Angus Lyon spent some time on this. He was more concerned to get a good rhythmic pattern rather than to worry about the chord voicing. The technique was about finding chord voicings that sat comfortably under the hand so that you could follow a tune at speed. Although a piano player, Angus had worked as an accordionist - second box - in a Scottish dance band. That job is basically providing a rhythmic accompaniment to the lead accordion - first box - who takes the melody. Angus also considered using II and VI chords to provide alternatives and to allow fast movement between chord sequences.

I met a similar approach a couple of years later in Melrose when Ian Lowthian was leading the Merlin Summer School. Ian is an accordionist who has trained at conservatoire level. (Yes they do that in the UK!) He is a music teacher leading school orchestras so has considerable interest in arrangements. Again he was more concerned with playing at speed than with voicings so again was looking at hand patterns.

This sort of accompaniment works well for fast music. One of the glories of Scottish music is the Strathspey. The problem here is that there will be rapid harmonic changes at the end of a phrase so instead of one type of chord a bar you will have several. Here's an example:


The triplets at the end are another feature of the Strathspey which gives it its grace but can also involve rapid harmonic changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 · (Edited)
The Braes of Mar:

An embodiment of the sheet music that Taggart has posted above. (See also Melinda Crawford in post #8, above.)

Here's an example of the tune from a teaching video by Fiona Cuthill of the Glasgow Fiddle Workshop.


And here's the same tune as part of a set played by Alasdair Fraser in The Driven Bow - see post #33 above. This is not the most spectacular example of his ornamentation skills, but still a good illustration - hear how the snaps & birls are integrated into the tunes, like leaves growing on a tree. Awesome!


Here's a link on the tune's history - it is an eighteenth-century tune and very popular - has spread to the New World and is found in other forms in Ireland too.
https://tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:Braes_of_Mar_(1)_(The)
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
During the eighteenth century in Scotland, the fashionable art music, baroque, was not separated from folk music by such a wide gap. The same violinists who taught the gentry's children were often in demand as fiddlers at dances and weddings, and perhaps took part in the Edinburgh Music Society''s concerts. The structure of reels, often based on arpeggios, and with special ornaments, can be seen to be related to the structure of baroque music. Schools and universities in Scotland were open to 'the lad of parts' who came from a poor home, and many fiddlers could read music and kept note of their variants of well-known tunes in little manuscript books.

Sometimes composers of art music also composed in the traditional style. Scottish traditional music was fashionable in Scotland even among the gentry - it was a mark of patriotism.

One example of a composer who wrote art music and also wrote/ collected/ arranged/ published traditional ('folk') music was James Oswald.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Oswald_(composer)

One of his books of sheet music can be found here:
https://imslp.org/wiki/A_Curious_Collection_of_Scots_Tunes_(Oswald,_James )

And here is his 'hawthorn sonata' - baroque music with Scottish-traditional themes.

 

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Discussion Starter · #35 · (Edited)
Another composer who straddled the worlds of art-music and traditional Scottish music was Thomas Erskine the sixth Earl of Kellie - his nickname was 'fiddler Tam'.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Erskine,_6th_Earl_of_Kellie

Here's a baroque composition of his - Sinfonia a Quattro in D major.


And here's Kellie's Reel played beautifully & with spirit by my fiddle teacher at a Norwich Baroque Concert - of course, being Jim, he likes to groove it up a little and make it his own as the tune advances. :)

 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Time to bring in that prince of golden-age Scottish Fiddlers, Niel Gow.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niel_Gow



I know a Scot who comes from that area of Scotland and who looks just like him. :)

He really is my favourite. Two of his famous laments are in the Iain Fraser book (see OP) and can be found on YouTube played by Iain, very beautifully. I enjoy playing these tunes very much, and never get sick of them.

Oddly, though in general I find it hard to manage vibrato, when I'm playing these laments, the emotion gets to me and I can just about do it. :)



I love both these tunes, and they have a similar structure and feeling, but best I like the Lament for his Second Wife, as somehow it conveys the most sadness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Pete Clark, a brilliant fiddler who lives at Dunkeld, holds a festival in honour of Niel Gow every March. Here is his website, which also contains details of the festival & recordings of Pete playing tunes by Niel's pupil John Crerar.
https://www.pete-clark.com/

Pete Clarke has produced two fab cds of himself playing Niel Gow tunes, and we're lucky enough to have them both.



Even Now, brought out in 1998, is my favourite and I am learning the tunes on it by ear - have only managed about four tracks & nine tunes by now as I got waylaid by my lowly-grade violin exam, but I'm hoping to return to the project soon.

You can sample the tunes on this link - https://www.amazon.com/Even-Now-Pete-Clark/dp/B005S4B304

More recently he collaborated with the pianist (and composer of traditional-style dance tunes) Muriel Johnstone on a cd called Niel Gow's Fiddle. Here's a link with the cover on, and a short review. We both like this cd, but the piano does tend to drawing-room-ise the music to an extent.
https://www.heraldscotland.com/arts...-clark-and-muriel-johnstone-niel-gows-fiddle/
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 · (Edited)
Another golden-age Scottish fiddler who published traditional tunes was Robert Mackintosh, known as Red Rob.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Mackintosh



Mackintosh at Murthley - the Music of Robert Mackintosh.
This cd by Pete Clark contains Mackintosh's traditional tunes & his baroque pieces - fiddle backed by a small baroque ensemble - and it is an exquisite mix which we love listening to.

We also bought a book of sheet music called The Mackintosh Collection, produced by The Music of Scotland. It doesn't look much - a dark blue book with dull lettering - so it doesn't matter that I'm not able to find an image to post. Still, it does show that you can't judge a delightful book by its boring cover.

Barring one reel, I've not had time yet to delve inside this book, which lies in a my crammed Scottish Fiddle Music drawer. That's the sad thing about starting a collection - but the good thing is, I've got something to look forward to playing, and will have for years - if I'm spared. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 · (Edited)
John and I have been practising Scottish tunes together recently, and played one justly famous one called Brig of Perth. This was accredited to Donald Dow, an eighteenth-century composer of both baroque & traditional music, but in fact he styled himself Daniel Dow - both names a translation of a Gaelic original. Wiki has a little information on him:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Dow

In c 1775, he published "Twenty Minuets and Sixteen Reels" - a title which shows how in eighteenth-century Scotland, there was no huge gap between art music and 'folk' music.

I can't find any good videos of The Brig o Perth, but apparently, he also wrote Monymusk, which is one of my favourite tunes - here played by the virtuoso American Scottish fiddler Jamie Laval:


As I find that I've already posted this video above, let me post another Scottish virtuoso, the renowned accordionist Jimmy Shand - his Monymusk is so brisk and rhythmic, that it's a joy to dance to.

 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Oh what a great discovery on YouTube this afternoon. Have sampled the cd and written to Santa - that's Christmas sorted for Mr & Mrs Taggart, then. :)

Hesperus Early Music Ensemble - MacDonald Of The Isles March To Harlaw - Source Of The Spey - The Periwig.

 
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