Understanding Scotland Musically: Folk, Tradition and Policy, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Understanding Scotland Musically

Folk, Tradition and Policy, 1st Edition

Edited by Simon McKerrell, Gary West


290 pages | 38 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-02-20
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Scottish traditional music has been through a successful revival in the mid-twentieth century and has now entered a professionalised and public space. Devolution in the UK and the surge of political debate surrounding the independence referendum in Scotland in 2014 led to a greater scrutiny of regional and national identities within the UK, set within the wider context of cultural globalisation. This volume brings together a range of authors that sets out to explore the increasingly plural and complex notions of Scotland, as performed in and through traditional music. Traditional music has played an increasingly prominent role in the public life of Scotland, mirrored in other Anglo-American traditions. This collection principally explores this movement from historically text-bound musical authenticity towards more transient sonic identities that are blurring established musical genres and the meaning of what constitutes ‘traditional’ music today. The volume therefore provides a cohesive set of perspectives on how traditional music performs Scottishness at this crucial moment in the public life of an increasingly (dis)United Kingdom.


"[…]the volume is a good start at heightening awareness of Scottish traditional music in all its diversity, and will hopefully inspire performers and scholars alike to continue to explore this vibrant and fascinating area."

Dorothy De Val, York University

Table of Contents

1. Understanding Scotland Musically Simon McKerrell & Gary West Policy & Practice 2. Traditional music and cultural sustainability in Scotland Simon McKerrell 3. Traditional music, community organisations and public funding: the case of Glasgow Fiddle Workshop Jo Miller 4. The emergence of the ‘traditional arts’ in Scottish cultural policy David Francis 5. Where the Gaelic Arts and Non-Traditional Theatre Meet, A Song Discussion Fiona J. Mackenzie 6. Referendum Reflections: Traditional music and the performance of politics in the campaign for Scottish independence Mairi McFadyen Porosity, Genres, Hybridity 7. Traditional Music, Tertiary Education and an Argument for Post-Revivalism Josh Dickson 8. Slaying the Tartan Monster: Identity, Revivalism, and Radicalism in Recent Scottish Music Meghan McAvoy 9. ‘It Happens in Ballads’: Ballad, Identity and Community in The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart Stephe Harrop 10. The problem with ‘traditional’ David McGuinness 11. Salsa Celtica’s Great Scottish Latin Adventure Phil Alexander Home and Host 12. Distant voices, Scottish lives: On song and migration Morag Grant 13. The Globalization of Highland Dancing Pat Ballantyne The past in the present 14. Locating Identity in the Aural Aspects of Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765): a bibliographic perspective Danni Glover 15. Whirlpools, eddies and countercurrents in the carrying stream Stuart Eydmann 16. Performing Scottish fiddle music, or, the historicity of tradition Ronnie Gibson 17. Wynds, Vennels and Dual Carriageways: the changing nature of Scottish music Karen McAulay 18. Understanding Scotland Musically: Reflections on Place, War and Nation Gary West 19. Afterword Simon Frith

About the Editors

Simon McKerrell has interdisciplinary research interests focused upon the social impact of music and how this relates to policy. He is the author of Focus: Scottish Traditional Music (2015), and the co-editor of Music as Multimodal Discourse: Media, Power and Protest (2017). He is currently Associate Dean for Research & Innovation in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Newcastle University. He has previously held positions at the Universities of Sheffield, Glasgow and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow.

Gary West holds a personal chair in Scottish Ethnology at the University of Edinburgh, where he also serves as Director of the European Ethnological Research Centre. His key teaching and research interests examine the ways in which we relate to the past from within the present, and he has published widely in the fields of folklore, tradition, heritage and traditional music. He is chair of Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, a past board member of Creative Scotland, and he presents Pipeline, a weekly specialist music programme on BBC Radio Scotland. He is also an active musician, having toured widely in the UK, Europe and North America, and has performed on around 30 CDs.

About the Series

Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series

Popular musicology embraces the field of musicological study that engages with popular forms of music, especially music associated with commerce, entertainment and leisure activities. The Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series aims to present the best research in this field. Authors are concerned with criticism and analysis of the music itself, as well as locating musical practices, values and meanings in cultural context. The focus of the series is on popular music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a remit to encompass the entirety of the world’s popular music.

Critical and analytical tools employed in the study of popular music are being continually developed and refined in the twenty-first century. Perspectives on the transcultural and intercultural uses of popular music have enriched understanding of social context, reception and subject position. Popular genres as distinct as reggae, township, bhangra, and flamenco are features of a shrinking, transnational world. The series recognizes and addresses the emergence of mixed genres and new global fusions, and utilizes a wide range of theoretical models drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, media studies, semiotics, postcolonial studies, feminism, gender studies and queer studies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General