Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Scotland's music: Dunrobin Place from Matheu Watson

Matheu Watson is a traveler in geography and in in music. Guitar, fiddle, whistle, banjo, and mandolin are his main instruments -- though he does play others. The music of Scotland is his heart, though he does play other sorts of music, too.

He has collaborated with Corrina Hewat and a range of artists from the UK and the Arabian Sea on the project Shifting Sands, in which the ways the differing cultures speak of the sea and the people who work and travel on it are featured. He has performed alongside Scots singer Emily Smith, Grammy winning American bluegrass and folk musician Tim O'Brien, HIghland fiddler and composer Duncan Chisholm, and many other top talents in the folk, acoustic, and bluegrass scene. He is also a featured performer on the soundtrack of the Academy award nominated animated film Brave, which is set in medieval Scotland.

These travels and the people he met along the way left their impressions upon Watson. This led to the tunes he’s chosen and composed for the twelve sets on his solo album Dunrobin Place. It really is a solo album. too. in the sense that Watson plays all the more than twenty instruments himself. Though that might sound as though he’s taking on a bit too much or doing something just to show that he can, in fact, the opposite is true. What Watson has created is a naturally integrated and flowing sequence of interesting music that’s by turns lively and reflective, inviting the listener in at all points.

Reflecting on the making of the album, Watson says that each time he came home from one of his journeys he had snippets of musical ideas in his mind. “These began to form a musical journal of my travels... I would work then up, drawing on the instruments I had to hand, and the memories of the places and people t that inspired them. “ Dunrobin Place is, Watson says, “ a confluence of the music, people, and places I encountered over the last three years. It is a distillation of the Celtic arc, BLue Mountain America, the Arab Kingdom, and homeland Scotland, as well as all the incredible people I have met along the way.”

It is distillation rather than fusion that Watson offers on Dunrobin Place: it is very distinctly the identity of Matheu Watson who speaks, for example, through his two original tunes, Cournouille and Candas Harbour, matched up with his arrangement of the traditional piece The Piper’s Whim to make the Candas Harbour set. The voice of his background on the Western Isle of Scotland speaks through the tunes as well, including the the East West set and the Hosta set, while ideas wind their way to his current home with the tune Dunrobin Place. It is all well worth the listening, and each listen will reveal more to enjoy.

you may also wish to see
Scotland and Bahrain: a musical connection
Musical imagination: Matheu Watson
Tuning up for Burns Night: four Scottish musicians

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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