The publication of this extensive historical collection from North-East Scotland including an edition for performers has had a considerable impact on singers of Scots folksong. The material has inspired CD recordings, folk festivals and singing competitions and can be understood as contributing overall to a revitalisation of the Scots song tradition.
The collection brings to publication (vols 1-4, pre-1993; vols 5-8, 1995-2002) the work of two important folk song collectors, Gavin Greig and Rev. James Bruce Duncan who were based in the North-East of Scotland in the early years of the twentieth century. The Collection sheds much light on the song culture of North-East Scotland at the beginning of the twentieth-century, as well as providing a treasury of songs from which modern-day singers can draw.
From the very start there was a great interest in this collection as a source of material for singers because of its size, scope and variety. The publication of each volume was marked with a launch (which included live singing), and the collection was the focus of a series of concerts at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1995, from which emerged a commercial CD produced by Greentrax Recordings, entitled Songs from the Greig-Duncan Collection (CDTRAX 5003, 1995), featuring some of Scotland’s leading folksingers, e.g. Sheena Wellington, Sheila Stewart and Isla St Clair. Campbell and Lyle gave talks on the collection to various audiences (e.g. Aberdeen Saltire Society), and commentary from them was included in radio broadcasts (e.g. a BBC Radio Scotland programme on Greig-Duncan, presented by Jim Malcolm, 2004).
All the song titles and first lines from Greig-Duncan are listed in the online Roud Folksong Index which is hosted by the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, Cecil Sharp House, London. This is accessible to all, and singers looking for songs containing, for example, particular place-names, may well be led to Greig-Duncan this way.
The one-volume selection for performers, "Songs from North-East Scotland: A Selection for Performers from the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection" edited by Katherine Campbell, was created in response to the need to make the collection more readily available (and affordable) for singers, and this was published by John Donald in 2009. It is specially geared to performers in terms of layout (e.g. facsimile music notation in Greig or Duncan’s hand was reset using the Finale Allegro programme), and it includes 45 illustrations.
Together the published volumes shed much light on the song culture of North-East Scotland at the beginning of the twentieth-century, as well as providing a treasury of songs from which modern-day singers can draw.
This article was published on Jan 25, 2012