Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Scotland's Music: Patsy Reid: A Glint o' Scottish Fiddle

A Glint o’ Scottish Fiddle—that is the name Patsy Reid has chosen for her most recent recording. It is a title that fits the music she’s chosen. It fits  the point in her work she’s chosen to record a new solo album, too.  

The sets – there are ten of them -- include both music from the tradition and more recently composed music.


Reid was a founding member of the award winning group Breabach. Time came when she chose to step back from that work – and what she stepped into was a career as one of the most in demand fiddle players and arrangers working in Scotland.


She has visited India a number of times and collaborated with Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi musicians. She’s played with Zakir Hussein’s Pulse of the World in London, with the Celtic big band The Unusual Suspects, and participated in the Cecil Sharpe Project.  

At the 2018 Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow she appeared as part of Scotland's Wild Heart, at Innes White’s New Voices concert, and in support of award winning Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis. Recently she supported US folk and country songwriter Gretchen Peters at the Southern Fried Festival in Perth. Reid has also worked on record and in performance with Donald Shaw, RANT, Ross Ainslie, Ali Hutton, Robyn Stapleton, Hamish Napier, and others.  

It’s been several years since Reid last released a solo album ( Brightest Path, in 2014). She has had in mind and been working on another solo album for some time. As much as she loves creating music with others, she wanted to focus on her own sound for a bit. “I had reached a stage where I could see myself only working on other people’s projects and never having enough time to so something of my own. So I’m taking the risk that I might have to say no to something exciting, and I’m investing in my own music. I wouldn’t want to regret not giving myself the chance to do that,” she said.  

For her listeners, and one would expect, for her own musical path, A Glint o’ Scottish Fiddle proves a worthwhile investment.

The music Reid chose for this recording was in some ways a look back. It includes music she's known since childhood, and pieces she learned and played while attending Alasdair Fraser’s fiddle camps, winning the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship, and studying for her university degrees.   

That's not to say these are simple tunes, nor is the feeling nostalgic. What Reid offers is a clear eyed and clear hearted take on a well chosen gathering of tunes which move within the history of the fiddle in Scotland and at times reach its diaspora.  

The works of James Scott Skinner, Niel Gow, and the unnamed composers of Scotland’s long held fiddle traditions were companions of Reid's own learning and of her finding her own sound in music. She has repaid that favor, honoring the tunes while adding her own mark to them.  

Most of the tunes come from Scotland’s east coast traditions, whether they are from the likes of named composers or not.  Reid well knows how to balance tunes which invite the step of the dancer with those which suggest the more contemplative and thoughful side of the life of Scotland.  

The opener for the first set, Strathearn, is a strathspey from the tradition with which Reid invites thoughts of the wilder sort of Scotland’s landscape and weather, before heading into a lively collection of old reels. Another notable set includes The Quartz Jig from Grainne Brady, The Double Rise, composed by Phil Cunningham, and Halloween Jig composed by Donald Shaw. Two more especially outstanding tunes are the haunting slow air Mrs. Jameson’s Favourite and a nod to the late Angus R. Grant with his composition 2:50 to Vigo.  

On these as through all the tracks, Reid is accompanied by Alastair Iain Patterson on piano. This makes an excellent collaboration which allows both participants to be fully in service to the music, and to their creativity.  

Every set on A Glint o’ Scottish Fiddle is a keeper. It’s no wonder Reid is in such demand as a collaborator for concerts and recordings. It’s great that she also chooses to take the time and focus to create solo projects as well. If you’ve interest in the fiddle, the music of Scotland, or fine acoustic music well played, then A Glint o’ Scottish Fiddle is your album.  

A note on the photos: I was fortunate to be at the Celtic Connections concert in 2018 when Reid and Patterson debuted this album. That’s where these photos were made.  

You may also wish to see
Julie Fowlis: Alterum
Hamish Napier: The River
Capercaillie: At the Heart of It All

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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