Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Scotland's Highlands in music: Duncan Chisholm

Whatever your view or knowledge of the highlands of Scotland, you will most likely find your ideas expanded when you listen to Duncan Chisholm’s recording Canaich. “With instrumental music, go can go any place you choose, paint any landscape you like,” Chisholm says.

The landscape Chisholm chooses for his inspiration here is the Strathglass and Glen Affric area of the Scottish highlands. These are landscapes he has known since childhood, and ancestral lands where his family has long lived, as well. As the journey unfolds, Chisholm's fiddle leads the way from a quiet opening that suggests nothing so much as the mists that often cover those mountains. Theh there is Camhanaich air Machair, a good companion for a reflective walk, while Isaac's Welcome to the World is a lively and joyous tune in celebration of the musician’s son. It leads into Phil Cunningham’s lovely tune, The Gentle Light that Wakes Me. The other parts of the journey are just as varied and interesting, with just as much space for you to paint your own pictures. There’s a graceful connection among tunes from composers including Donal Shaw, Michael McGoldrick, and Niall Vallely with Chisholm’s own tunes.

It’s a journey well worth the taking, and one which will reveal new aspects with each return visit.

Canaich is the second of three recordings Chisholm has in mind to explore highland landscape through instrumental music. The first is the award winning album Farrar.

you may also wish to see

Music Road: Julie Fowlis:Uam
Duncan Chisholm often appears with Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis
Music Road: Sarah-Jane Summers: Nesta
Scottish musician Sarah-Jane Summers shares the best of the Highlands

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Melanie Haiken said...

I was just in Scotland in October and was dismayed to hear much less traditional music than when I was there 20 years earlier. In fact, I hear young Scots making fun of the "tourist music" that plays in the tartan shops. I'd love ideas for where and how to hear music like this in Scotland!

2:44 AM  
Blogger kerry dexter said...

there are a number of folk clubs which offer this sort of music, and many of the larger venues in the bigger cities feature traditional music as well. Duncan Chisholm has played at Saint Andrew's in the Square in Glasgow and Eden Court in Inverness, for example. There are also many festivals where you could hear this sort of music: Celtic Connections in the winter, Perthshire Amber in the autumn, Hebridean Celtic Festival in the summer are three which come to mind.

3:59 PM  

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