Friday, April 01, 2011

Scottish Musicians look at the Future of Our Past

In folk music of any country, there often arises the question of how do we pass this on? right alongside the question of how do we make this new? and how do we add our own stamp to it? how do we do that while respecting and sharing the best of what’s gone before? There are as many answers to these questions as there are musicians, of course. Listeners often weight in too, some wanting only exact replicas of what they’ve heard before, others wanting only fusion, and others willing to hear what the musicians my have in mind.

The students and tutors on the Scottish traditional music course at the Royal Scottish future of our past album cover scottish musicAcademy of Music and Drama in Glasgow (RSAMD for short) think about this sort thing quite often, and put their answers in to practice in the work they do. RSAMD is the only place in the world with an honours BA course in Scottish traditional music, and just to get in one has to meet a very high standard.

That standard is well shown in the nicely titled recording The Future of Our Past, as students on the BA and post graduate diploma courses in 2010 have a go at jigs and reels, pipe solos, puirt-a-beul, and ballads and songs in English and Scottish Gaelic. More than three dozen students took part in the project, which was produced by two artists you’ve met before along the music road, Phil Cunningham and Findlay Napier. The set of jigs and polkas which includes Muireann’s Jig, written by Irish composer Niall Vallely and the traditional Tom Barrett’s is very well done and makes a fine opener for the set. Paul McKenna takes lead vocals on The Banks of Newfoundland, while Katherine MacLeod is the singer on the Gaelic song Moladh Uibhist. There’s a song written by Richard Thompson and a tune by Fred Morrison, and many tunes and songs from the tradition, and otehr from contemprary composers who write in that vein as well. Hazne Metrao and Alasdair hendrson on Highland bagpipes and Kirstem MacLeod on accrodion are aomong the otehrs who have solo aprts .All in all, it is a well paced and well thought out project, lively and engaging, and well worth your listening.
atlantic breeze celtic connections copyright kerry dexter
Side note: Students from the RSAMD, the University of Strathclyde, and Berklee College in Boston, Massachusetts, all got together for an equally engaging program during Celtic Connection in January of this year. This was called Atlantic Breeze, and the music traced a bit of melody and song travels across the Atlantic and back again.

photograph made with permission of the artists, and is copyrighted. thank you for respecting this.

you may also wish to see
Music Road: Scott-Land at Celtic Connections
Music Road: from Donegal: T with the Maggies
Music Road: Celtic Connections 2011: images

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