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Music of Scotland

I enjoy listening to music from or about the country I am planning to visit. Last year when visiting Italy, I enjoyed opera for the first time in my life. My Grandparents were Scottish and of course I love the bagpipes. We are going to spend a month in Scotland in the fall. I need music suggestions! I love all types of music. I love the theme song to Outlander TV series, Skye Boat Song. But I'm at a loss as to what to add to my playlist. Any suggestions? So what song do you suggest that I download to my iPhone?

Posted by
3091 posts

Try this - " Four Scottish Dances " by the British composer Malcolm Arnold https://youtu.be/wHnBibfWu2Y In the second dance , you will hear what a dram or two does ! The third dance will bring " a smile to your lips , and a tear in your eye "

Posted by
5561 posts

Oh, you have asked about something very dear to my heart. I love my Scottish music collection. One of my favorite souvenirs is a CD that I find in Scotland.

Scottish style fiddle music and cellos
- Natalie McMaster--She is from Cape Bretton, but she plays traditional Scottish music. Her CD's are all marvelous. She tours in the US so check her schedule.
- Alasdair Fraser--Scotsman based in California who also plays traditional Scottish music. He tours the US so check his tour schedule. He also plays with cellist, Natalie Haas.
- Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham--Aly is a fiddler from Shetland and Phil plays the squeeze box. They tour in Scotland and I've heard them when I am there. Check their schedule to see if you can hear them.

- Fiona Driver--She is from Orkney. I've only heard her play live there.

- Duncan Chisholm--He is one of my favorites. I used to get stuck with bad weather at Lambert Field in St. Louis and I'd tune into one of his CD's and be back in the Highlands.
- Wrigley Sisters--I have a couple of their CD's. They too are from Orkney.
- Blazing Fiddles--This is a band that is mostly fiddles.

- Bonnie Rideout--She is an American who has played at the Festival.
- Gilian Frame--I first heard her at the Aberfeldy Music Festival. I have one CD and haven't seen much lately.
- Abby Newton--If Duncan's CD's don't take me away from Lambert, Abby's will.

Bands
- Shooglenlifty--They are Edinburgh celtic Fusion. The Arms Dealer's Daughter CD got great reviews. I have it. :)
- Bodega--no longer playing together, but I have a CD that I enjoy.

- Peatbog Faeries--They are from Skye.

- The Cottars--another Cape Bretton band.

- Wolfstone--This is where I first heard Duncan Chisholm
- Kornog--They are a Breton (not Cape) band that plays Celtic music.
- Salsa Celtica--The names says it all!
- Keltik Elektrik--Jack Evans formed this band. It's great dance music. When my nephew was a baby and toddler he loved to have his mom dance with him to this music.

Other Individual Artists

  • Stuart Cassells--he's a contemporary piper. I think he only has the one CD.
  • Gibb Todd--I only have his first CD. I may have to get this one. I first heard him at a concert in Inverness when the museum of music was still around.
  • Alex Beaton--I first heard him at Stone Mountain. He's a singer and had a tragic accident a few years ago. His sings the traditional songs.

This is continued....

Posted by
244 posts

Oh, Thank you both so much! I will be busy listening to some great music! Btw Pamela, I did look at Natalie McMaster's tour dates and guess what! She is playing in my home town next month! I can't wait to hear her in person! And we have only just started! Amazing🎉

Posted by
5561 posts

More Single Artists

  • Dougie Maclean--He is from Perthshire. He plays in their festival every fall. He originally had The Taybank and I believe started the tradition of musical sessions there. He did the music for The Last of the Mohicans movie. He sings, plays the fiddle, guitar, and the violin. His song, Caledonia, is often suggesting as a national anthem. Click on the first link and hear it. It's lovely.
  • Steve MacDonald--he's another singer. He's known for his songs about the western Isles. Sons of Somerled have been called the "musical Braveheart".

More Music!

  • Runrig--I forgot this Gaelic band when listing out the bands. They have a song entitled, A Dance Called America, which is about the Scottish Diaspora. It's also the title of a great book by Peter Hunt.

  • The Proclaimers--I loved this group. Best song, I'm Gonna Be.

  • Ding Dong Dollar--Scottish Republican Songs!

  • Carl Peterson--I have his Scottish Sing-along CD.

  • Hullion--It's another Orcadian band.

  • Roots, Reels and Rhythms--Another Scottish Fusion CD that's a collection of artists.

  • Untamed--Another collection of contemporary artists.

Festivals
There are lots of music festivals in Scotland. Here's one link, but it doesn't have them all. Perthshire Amber is held in the fall. The Tarbert Music Festival is in September and often features bands from Glasgow. I'll always remember the lime green violin. And then there is Celtic Connections held every January in Glasgow. Someday I'll go.

Lastly, for your trip, check The Gig Guide for live music in the towns that you are visiting. Check early and then keep checking as more gigs get added the closer you get to your travel dates.

Pam

Posted by
5561 posts

That is wonderful that Natalie is coming to your town! I've heard her several times. She puts on an energetic show. I think that she dances through the whole performance.

Pam

Posted by
5561 posts

And, I just realized I forgot Robert Burns! How could i? :) I picked up a couple of CD's over the years and here is a great site to find more.

Posted by
5561 posts

Actually, I have to say that one year when I was driving in Scotland and it was particularly rainy and dismal, I found that Jimmy Buffet helped. That was before I had found Keltik Elektrik though.

Pam

Posted by
244 posts

Oh, this is wonderful! I've only begun to listen to all of the wonderful music! I'm already in love with Dougie MacLean's Caledonia and Natalie Macmaster's, David's Gig. The music takes me to the highlands! Thank you again, Pamela. Steven, you are right the 3rd movement did pull on my heart strings! Thank you!

Posted by
5561 posts

Wow, Steven, that first dance sure is straight from Scottish Country Dancing. :)

Posted by
5561 posts

Look for Wild Mountain Thyme as well. I heard Gibb Todd sing this.

Here's A Scottish Soldier by Steven MacDonald. I like the way Alex Beaton does it better. Steve can be a bit melodramatic. Here's another version that's closer to Alex's. I think it gets piped a lot too.

Johnny Cope is another classic folk song. Here's Alex singing it.

Here's the tune from Keltik Elektrik that James danced to with his mom. And their version of Wild Mountain Thyme.

Posted by
2514 posts

Jings I think some of you listen to more Scottish music than I do ,some great stuff there.

I remember seeing the Wrigley sisters many years ago at a Folk Festival on Arran, they were just wee lassies then but so talented , saw them a few years ago at the Edinburgh fringe and they were even better.
Can I add a few others.
Eddie Reader (formerly of Fairground Attraction) does a lot of folk and Burns stuff these days and last time I saw her Phil Cunningham was playing alongside of her
Rab Oakes does some great stuff . Was in Stealers Wheel with Gerry Rafferty and there's another the late great Gerry Rafferty.
For a real , Scottish flavour look for Michael Marra .This is one of my favourite songs of his. seen him many times over the years but sadly he died a few years ago.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HeB8JJFoBw
look at more of his stuff he truly was one of Scotlands best song writers.
for sometime totally off the wall look at Ivor Cutler, really weird but the world has been a better place for his visit.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Nt7PWtgOPI

Posted by
1291 posts

There is a musical now based on the Proclaimers called 'Sunshine on Leith.' Not too bad, seen worse, but they have a flash mob version of 'Gonna Be (500 miles)', one of those songs no one remembers the correct name, on Princes Street in Edinburgh.

The main problem with the film is one of the actresses. She is a much, much better singer than any one else on the cast, who are good, that she makes them look like amateurs.

Posted by
453 posts

we worked in music at a couple of spots while in the Highlands and were very fortunate. We were on Skye at the Old Inn to hear the Peatbog Faeries, wonderful evening of music that we just lucked into. We also went to the Ben Nevis Inn at Fort William and heard five muscians playing in the round, it was awesome, they were not a band but were just a group of great players. You can find some music by Peatbog Faeries if you look on web sites, they are great. I know this doesnt help with pre Scotland trip so much but I encourage you to work in some local music, it was magical!!

Posted by
244 posts

Oh my, such great suggestions! I'm enjoying listening to all of the beautiful music. So far I have added the following songs to my playlist:
The Gift(Fly Away), Caledonia, and Auld Lang Syne; Dougie MacLean
Farewell to Peter; Natalie MacMaster
Mull of Kintyre; Wings
Purple Heather; Rod Stewart
Wallace Courts Murron; James Horner & London Symphony
Loch Lomand; Simon Mayor
Wild Mountain Thyme, Flower of Scotland; Keltik Elektrik
The Skye Boat Song: Bear McCreary
Noble Maiden Fair; Emma Thompson and Peigi Barker (from the movie Brave. Haha… couldn't resist)
I'm still listening and adding songs so if you think of any classic Scottish tune I should add let me know!

We definitely hope to hear some great music when in Scotland at some local pubs! We will be visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow, Pitlochry, Inverness, Bettyhill, Ullapool, Isle of Skye, Oban just to name a few. We will have a car. So if you have any suggestions of great pubs with amazing music we would love your suggestions.

Mòran taing

Posted by
2514 posts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMtsctG1YKs
this version of Loch Lomond by Runrig has been established as the going home song for many a modern Scottish gathering especially weddings,after we have all sung Auld lang Syne we go into this and get a bit mental dancing to it before heading off into the night.

Posted by
5561 posts

And how many verses of Auld Lang syne do you typically sing? Americans struggle with the first verse and obsess on what the words mean for the most part. We always get at least two verses at the end of our Christmas party. The Madison. WI Scottish Country Dancers get all of them complete with running in and out of the circle.

Pam

Posted by
1291 posts

One or two depending on the band, the event, level of inebriation, and remembering the words.

Posted by
3091 posts

" Level of inebriation " For who ? If it's the band , everyone is out of luck !

Posted by
2514 posts

I agree with MC depends on the level of alcohol consumed but that includes the band too.
My family in Liverpool have now included this ritual at some events they organise for the Down's Syndrome Liverpool.
certainly has gone down well with everyone at the events i have attended.

Posted by
1291 posts

As unclegus says, that includes the band! One of their perks at some ceilidhs is free drinks at the bar.

Posted by
5561 posts

Now that I look at this site with the lyrics, I think that the country dancers only sing, 1, 4 and 5. It really does sound best in Scots! I wish that there was a video of people singing it and showing how you hold hands. I've always done it that you don't cross arms until you get to the verse that starts--And there's a hand....

Pam

Posted by
5561 posts

Okay, I can't get enough of the music. :) Have you found Scotland the Brave? It's commonly played on pipes.

Here's one with the words I have heard.

Here's one with words that I've not heard. It scorns Italy or it is quite gory. MC, Unclegus any thoughts on Italy? Or Denmark for that matter. Is it a version from the SNP? LOL

Posted by
1291 posts

Not one I have heard before, but Italy, Denmark and England are the three historic empires that have washed up against Scotland. In the case of the first two as Rome and then the Vikings. That would be my reading of it.

There is also the other tune battling Flower of Scotland, Scots Wha Hae, and Scotland the Brave for preeminence, Highland Cathedral. Written in 1982 by two German composers.

Posted by
244 posts

I am loving all the videos posted here! I'm enjoying all the versions of, Scotland the Brave. And Unclegus, I'm Happy is a real hoot! Yep, loving all types of music! I enjoyed the scenery in these videos. Will Ye Go Lassie and Amazing Grace. All this wonderful music is bringing up lovely memories of my beloved Grandparents. Also, Papa loved a wee dram! I can't wait to visit and have one for him❤️!

Posted by
5561 posts

So, I had to find Donald Where's Your Trooser's and I found this one on YouTube. Stay with it until he get's to the "International Version." And over 100,000 people have listened to this since November 2012. What a hoot.

Posted by
5561 posts

Ah, this thread could go on forever! How could I have forgotten The Road to the Isles? If nothing else it's a great geography lesson on the way to the Western Isles. I'd like to find a better version. I'll always remember, Marjorie Mitchell, my sisters' and my hostess on Orkney and a relative by marriage. We were on our first visit to Scotland and we were walking on the beach and she picked up some seaweed and said, "Don't you girls know that this is the tangle of the isles?" This image is pretty good. I used to be able to play this on the piano, but i lost the book. :(

Posted by
552 posts

There is so much great music from traditional to rock that is from Scotland. Many have already been mentioned:
RunRig (their latest stuff has a different lead singer as Donny Munro was elected to the Scottish Parliament, love his voice!)
The Proclaimers
Dougie MacLean (I know so many folk artists that do a version of his Caledonia)
The Waterboys
The Corries
Andy Stewart
EMMA (The Skye Boat Song)
Marillion
Frankie Miller (Darlin')
Pentlands (Ye Jacobites By Name)
Celtic Spirit
Alisdair Fraser (just a great fiddler)

Just to name a few. I went into a music store in Edinburgh and found a 4 CD collection that had a lot of songs by all of these artists.

Posted by
1461 posts

What a great topic! I'm totally with you on wanting to learn about the music of a place I'm visiting. We did a 17th century Portuguese program in a group I sang with, and I wound up being inspired to visit Portugal. For your trip, you might want to check out the 'Thistle and Shamrock' show on National Public Radio - they also have a website (thistleradio.com). Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
8 posts

Hi there. I'm an American who has been living in Scotland for several years. The hands-down best band for traditional Scottish music is the Old Blind Dogs. Their music is readily available on itunes. Their website is: http://www.oldblinddogs.co.uk/

Here's a list of some of their best songs:

Is There for Honest Poverty (based on a famous Robert Burns poem)
MacPherson's Rant
Braw Sailin'
Star O' the Bar

Another good Scottish trad band is the Tannahill Weavers, who have been around for quite a while. You might also like the Battlefield Band. My favorite singer-songwriters of modern Scottish folk music are Karine Polwart and Jim Malcolm (Jim used to front for the Old Blind Dogs).

I noticed you signed off one of your posts in Scots Gaelic. My favorite Gaelic artists are Fiona J McKenzie and Kathleen MacInnes. Gle mhath!

Hope that helps! Happy travels.

-Kimberly

Posted by
5561 posts

I can't believe that I didn't remember the Battlefield Band. I am going to have to check out Old Blind Dogs. BTW don't forget to check the tour schedule for some of these bands for when you are in Scotland. It looks like Old Blind Dogs will be playing in Edinburgh in September. (Sure looks like they go to Germany a lot!

Pam

Posted by
37 posts

What a fabulous thread! Thank you pfresh3 for thinking to ask it, and to everyone with the great recs. Same question has been rolling around in my head for months, but I have been following the trial and error method, which is not nearly as efficient :)

Posted by
244 posts

I was trying the same trial and error method, thanks to everyone for great suggestions. I'm hoping to hear some wonderful music when in Scotland! I seem to be just missing tour dates! Natalie McMaster performed in my home town but we had planned an out of town trip before I knew she would be here! Old Blind Dogs will be in Edinburgh 3 days before we arrive! But I know we will hear wonderful music in some great pubs on our trip! I can't wait!

Posted by
5561 posts

Keep checking the gig guide for the towns you are visiting even when you're in Scotland. Maybe you will discover a new group that you can tell us all about!

Pam