Reinvigorating Traditional Arts in Scotland
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Edinburgh
Unit of AssessmentModern Languages and Linguistics
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Curatorial and Related Studies, Historical Studies
Summary of the impact
Three research projects emerging from audio materials in the University
of Edinburgh's Scottish Studies Archives (SSA) and from the
Greig-Duncan folksong collection have forged a new understanding of the
role of tradition in Scotland and internationally. These projects
contribute to the reanimation of Scotland's rich traditional heritage by
transferring into a contemporary context music and song preserved in these
cultural artefacts. Through our websites (since 2010 ca. 9,000 hits per
month from 98 different countries), public performances in Scotland,
Ireland and North America, educational packages, CDs and radio broadcasts
(ca. 50,000 weekly listeners 2008-13) we combine the old with the new, and
have thus influenced the way the cultural and educational professions,
performers and the general public engage with the traditional arts of
The projects described here involve scholarly research on archival
collections of music or song in Scotland.
Tobar an Dualchais (TAD)
This project (total funding: £3.2m) commenced in 2006 with a remit to
digitise and enable access to the major fieldwork recordings of SSA along
with two smaller audio archive collections, the National Trust for
Scotland's Campbell of Canna Archive and BBC Alba (ca. 12,000 hours of
material). The project was run jointly with the University of the
Highlands and Islands. Digitisation centres were set up in South Uist and
in the SSA; a team of 30 cataloguers was employed to provide descriptive
metadata. The research design and implementation has been overseen by a
steering group including four staff members of Celtic & Scottish
Studies (C&SS) at the University of Edinburgh: Dr Cathlin
Macaulay (SSA Archivist), Dr Margaret Mackay (Senior Lecturer until 2010,
thereafter Hon. Fellow), Dr John Shaw (Senior Lecturer until 2010,
thereafter Hon. Fellow) and Dr Gary West (Lecturer 1994-2006, Senior
Lecturer 2006-). Underpinning this project has been scholarship on how to
analyse folkloristic and ethnomusicological genres, how to contextualise
these genres by reference to a range of external source materials and how
to design and deliver a major online research resource. This constitutes a
decisive contribution to the intellectual infrastructure of the fields of
Celtic Studies, Ethnology and Intangible Cultural Heritage (3.1, 3.2).
The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection
Originating in Aberdeenshire, this is the largest collection of Lowland
Scots song ever published. The research underpinning vols 5-8 (published
1993-2003, see 3.3) involved systematic scholarly editing of a disparate
collection of manuscript materials dating from the early twentieth
century: folksongs, including associated correspondence, newspaper
articles and other paratexts. Volumes 5-8 of the collection comprise over
1,000 separate folk songs, with notes on each song, including references
to known analogues, and the collectors' own comments. Dr Emily Lyle
(Senior Research Fellow) was PI. Dr Katherine Campbell (AHRB Research
Fellow, 2000-02, Lecturer 2005-12, Senior Lecturer 2012-) was a co-author
of volume 8, which contains analytical studies by Campbell of the music in
the collection, and by Lyle of the collection's formation. Taken together,
volumes 5-8 comprise over 2,500 pages of research materials. The
publication of the collection and of an additional Selection for
Performers (3.4) has radically altered perceptions of the scope and
importance of regional song in North-East Scotland.
The Survivals and Revivals Project
West leads this research strand, which by analysing the interactions
between survivals of older styles and revivals by contemporary musicians,
draws together archival material in SSA and new field-based research. From
2008-13, a key element of this research has been West's recording, through
participant observation techniques, of a modern revival in piping and
singing in progress. This breaks new methodological ground. West's
work as an internationally recognised performer and broadcaster
integrates, as practice-based research, with this method. The main
research findings to date concern lowland bellows-blown piping techniques,
styles and repertoires, and the importance of key individuals to the
revival process (3.1, 3.2).
References to the research
3.1 West, Gary J. (2012). Voicing Scotland: Folk, Culture, Nation.
Edinburgh: Luath Press (submitted to REF 2).
3.2 West, Gary J. (2013). `Oral Testimony', in Scottish Life and
Society: A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology, Volume One. Edinburgh:
Birlinn (submitted to REF 2).
3.3 General Editor: Emily B. Lyle; Editor: Patrick Shuldham-Shaw.* The
Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection. Mercat Press for the University
of Aberdeen in association with the School of Scottish Studies, University
of Edinburgh (xxii, 656 pp.).
• Vol. 5 (1995). Eds. Shuldham-Shaw, Patrick, Emily B. Lyle and Adam
McNaughtan (xxii, 656 pp.).
• Vol. 6 (1995). Eds. Shuldham-Shaw, Patrick, Elaine Petrie (xxvii, 608
• Vol. 7 (1997). Eds. Shuldham-Shaw, Patrick, Sheila Douglas (xxvii, 557
• Vol. 8 (2002). Eds. Shuldham-Shaw, Patrick, Emily B. Lyle and Katherine
Campbell (xxxix, 756 pp. Available from HEI on request).1
3.4 Katherine Campbell, ed. (2009). Songs from North-East Scotland: A
Selection for Performers from "The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection".
Edinburgh: John Donald (xxiv, 263 pp.), with accompanying CD and
associated website, http://www.celtscot.ed.ac.uk/greig-duncan.htm).2
[*NB The name of Patrick Shuldham-Shaw, who died in 1977, appears
posthumously on all the volumes in recognition of the foundational work he
did towards the overall publication].
Evidence of quality:
1 Awarded The Saltire Society/National Library of Scotland,
Research Book of the Year Prize, 2003; submitted to RAE 2008.
2 In 2003, Campbell was named researcher on a follow-on
project, funded by the British Academy, with the University of Aberdeen:
"The Performance Edition of the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection". Value:
Details of the impact
Our impact has been to reanimate the rich traditional heritage of
Scotland by transferring into a contemporary idiom and context music and
song from SSA and the Folk Song Collection.
TAD Website and related educational and performance activities:
Launched in Dec. 2010, the site generates traffic of ca. 7,000 visits per
month, including hits from 98 different countries (http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk,
for statistics see 5.2). We have set up a partnership with Education
Scotland (5.1) to provide online teaching material for the Curriculum for
Excellence (the new national schools' curriculum for Scotland). In
conjunction with Creative Scotland, West has established a programme to
encourage creative use of TAD; this collaboration has engaged the project
with all five national performing arts companies, as well as the
Federation of Scottish Theatres, The Scottish Traditional Music Forum and
The Scottish Literature Forum. Creative Scotland awarded two Artist in
Residency posts to TAD (from Summer 2012).
At its launch in 2010, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Culture and
External Affairs praised how TAD "makes available an enormous amount of
rich material in Gaelic and Scots which will help current and future
generations learn where they come from"
Since then, the success of TAD has directly influenced cultural policy
within Scotland. In 2012 the Scottish Government commissioned TAD to work
with the National Library of Scotland. The objective is to establish a
National Sound Archive, an undertaking which has helped to create jobs in
the cultural sector. Announcing the Government's financial pledge of £100k
to this project, the First Minister Alex Salmond emphasised, on 23 July
2012, "the Scottish Government's strong commitment to growing the cultural
economy, and supporting creative activity in every part of Scotland.
Through its work to collect, preserve and provide access to more than
11,500 hours of Scotland's sound heritage, Tobar an Dualchais has
potential to play a key role in our long-term ambitions to create a
National Sound Archive for Scotland. Today's funding will extend this
excellent work, supporting employment and skills development for the
digitisers, cataloguers, data editors and copyright officers who are
involved — many of whom are working from some of Scotland's most
economically fragile areas" (http://tinyurl.com/no22mtu).
Broadcasting: During the REF period 2008-13, the Survivals and
Revivals research strand has played a key role in informing the
weekly BBC Radio Scotland programme, Pipeline, which West, author
of, e.g. "Military Music" and Voicing Scotland, both 2012 (see
REF2), researches, scripts and presents. This amounts to over 500 hours of
broadcasting since 2003. Pipeline transmits directly to an average
audience of 50,000 per week, and since 2006 has consistently had the
highest download figures of the entire Radio Scotland output, averaging
around 130,000 online listeners per quarter (http://tinyurl.com/qadxl5p).
The programme was shortlisted in the media category at the 2009 Scots
Traditional Music Awards and was nominated in the Best Music Programme
Category at the 2010 UK Sony Radio Awards. During the REF period, Pipeline
contributed significantly to the development, understanding and expansion
of piping internationally: the 6-times World Pipe Band Champion has said:
"Here in British Columbia we have a strong but slightly isolated piping
community. We have relied on Pipeline for the latest piping music
as well as the history of tunes and pipers. We not only enjoy the program
but we learn from it and use what we learn to promote and develop piping
in our part of the world" (5.3).
Performances, Events and Recordings: Greig-Duncan. The SSA
archival research strands have enabled a wide variety of performers and
audiences to interact creatively with Scotland's musical heritage.
Bringing together the children of Oyne Primary School in Aberdeenshire and
traditional singer Frieda Morrison (Artist in Residence at C&SS,
2012-13), we created a new drama for primary schools: "Johnny Sangster".
The drama, produced by Morrison, is based on the traditional song from the
Greig-Duncan Collection. "Johnny Sangster" now features both on a DVD and
on GLOW (the Scottish schools intranet run by Education Scotland), and
includes video diary material concerning the making of the drama (5.4).
Oyne Primary School Head Teacher, Ruth Hassan, noted that "pupils have
just completed an exciting project to promote Scots language and song on
DVD, the aim of which is to support other teachers and their classes to
explore Scots language, songs and culture in a motivating and enjoyable
way" (5.5). Press coverage also drew attention to the pioneering,
cross-curricular dimension of the project (5.6).
The Greig-Duncan collection also inspires artistic performances and
recordings, e.g. Shona Donaldson's CD Short Nichts & Lang Kisses
(2011). The booklet, which includes an introduction by Campbell,
highlights how Donaldson's close engagement with the collection "has
created modern tunes to those songs without melody [...], and integrated
modern lines into the fragmented songs, juxtaposing old source material
with new music and text" (http://www.deveron-arts.com/shona-donaldson/).
In the folksong competitions at the annual "Folk at the Salmon Bothy"
festival in Portsoy, Aberdeenshire, all songs are drawn from Greig-Duncan.
Campbell served as a competition judge in 2011, 2012 and 2013. A newspaper
report highlighted the competition and its links to the collection,
noting: "The Greig-Duncan collection is an amazing collection of our
North-East singing tradition, and the organisers of the competition can be
well satisfied that they demonstrated that it is part of a truly living
In June 2013, the Greig-Duncan Online Songs Project went live: 35 songs
from the collection, sung by 16 well-known folksingers, were uploaded to
the C&SS website and to YouTube (5.8). Press coverage included an STV
interview with Campbell and Lyle, and a broadcast involving Morrison and
Lyle on Janice Forsyth's Culture Café programme on BBC Radio Scotland, and
newspaper articles. By 31 July 2013, the Greig-Duncan website had received
2,205 views — 1,618 from the UK, with the top 5 international countries
being the USA, New Zealand, Germany, Canada and Spain (5.9).
The website has been innovative by showing how songs from the collection
are performed within the tradition at the modern-day. In recognition of
this, a newspaper article in The Scotsman (20 July 2013) reported:
"Thanks to the website [...] people all over the world can now access
these YouTube videos of peerless renditions by 16 of Scotland's leading
interpreters of traditional song" (http://tinyurl.com/omxm65l).
Survivals and Revivals. Between 2008-13 West performed a full
concert repertoire, based on the research findings of the Project, at key
international festivals and venues. These include William Kennedy Piping
Festival, Northern Ireland 2008; Simon Fraser University, Vancouver,
Canada 2009; Piping Live, Glasgow 2010; Edinburgh International Book
Festival 2010 (with Campbell) and 2012; Pipers' Gathering Festival,
Vermont, USA August 2011; Celtic Arts Concert, and Mastery of Scottish
Arts residential course, Seattle 2011, 2012 and 2013. Highlighting West's
impact on North American performers, the CEO of the Celtic Arts
Foundation, Seattle, has said: "Dr West brings a depth of knowledge with
him from his research which gives an entirely new perspective to the music
of the bagpipe, and this is helping to fuel a whole new revival over here"
Sources to corroborate the impact
The following sources can be supplied by the HEI on request. All listed
weblinks are to an original page, but should they be unavailable a PDF can
be found at:
Corroborates partnership between TAD and Education Scotland.
TAD_Usage 12-13. Corroborates website traffic statistics from August 2012
to July 2013.
5.3 Email, 26.09.2013 (PDF file). Corroborates the World Champion's
statement on the importance of West's radio programme, Pipeline,
for piping in British Columbia.
5.4 GLOW url (password-protected, but can be accessed on request).
Corroborates the "Johnny Sangster" DVD recording of the Oyne Primary
School performance based on the Greig-Duncan collection.
Corroborates Oyne Primary School Head Teacher's praise for how the school
performance of "Johnny Sangster" helped pupils explore Scots language and
5.6 `Oyne's Answer to the Oscars', Times Education Supplement
Scotland, 12 April 2013, p. 20 (PDF file). Corroborates the view
that the Oyne experience can serve as a role model for cross-curricular
learning based on the Greig-Duncan collection of songs.
5.7 `Festival Contest Helps Keep Songs Alive', The Banffshire Journal,
7 June 2011, p. 20 (PDF file). Corroborates that the Greig-Duncan
collection is part of a truly living tradition in Scotland today.
Corroborates the online accessibility of 35 songs from the Greig-Duncan
Collection, sung by 16 well-known folksingers.
5.9 Youtube_Google_Analytics_31.07.13 (PDF file). Corroborates the
national and international traffic on the Greig-Duncan website.
5.10 Letter from CEO, Celtic Arts Foundation, Seattle, USA (PDF file).
Corroborates West's international leadership in the revival of bagpipe
music in Seattle.