Lori Watson

Lecturer in Scottish Ethnology


I currently combine a busy teaching schedule with groundbreaking research and creative and performance work to fulfil my expansive interest in Scottish music and culture. I hold the first artistic research and ethnomusicology doctorate in Scotland and I am a leading Traditional musician and experienced performer. 

I have an array of education experience in community and HE settings and hold a PGCert in Learning and Teaching, with special interests in performance, assessment and mental health.

A fiddle player, singer and interpreter of Scots and traditional song, I compose instrumental music, songs and innovative works. I grew up in the Scottish Borders and continue to draw on the landscapes, people, literature, folklore, music and folk traditions of the area.

Having contributed to the programme review of the BMus Traditional Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, with an emphasis on performance assessment, research skills and professional skills, I was invited to design Celtic & Scottish Studies' new MSc Traditional Arts Performance programme starting in September 2020 (the first performance programme connected to the world-renowned School of Scottish Studies and the first to combine the three main traditional arts: music, storytelling and dance).

I am a keen fieldworker and have a strong interest in how we can contribute to and develop archives for the modern age.


PhD St Andrew's University

PGCert Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

BA (hons) Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama

Responsibilities & affiliations

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Chair of the Traditional Music Forum

Celtic & Scottish Studies Web Officer

Undergraduate teaching


Traditional Song - Scots

Traditional Music

Scotland & Orality

Postgraduate teaching

MSc Traditional Arts Performance (running from Sept 2020)

Trad Lab

Traditional Arts Workshops

Traditional Arts Project

Archives & Interpretation

Research Skills & Methods in Celtic & Scottish Studies

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I engage with all aspects of traditional arts, with a particular interest in contemporary folk music practice, creativity and performance. Main disciplines include ethnomusicology, artistic research and education.

Current PhD students supervised

Emma Tomlinson, RCS and St Andrews University

Allison Stringer, RCS and St Andrews University

Research summary

Contemporary traditional music practice, innovation, creativity and tradition, the nature of tradition and traditional music in Scotland, vocal mechanics of traditional singing, creative and performance strengths of traditional and multi-genre musicians, in-performance communication, improvisation, composition, bringing context to performance, music and song of Scotland, cultural heritage of the Scottish Borders.

Project activity

People's Voice (2019 - )

Mapping current voice use and understandings in folk and traditional singers in Scotland and exploring the application of vocal mechanics knowledge to improve vocal health, instrument awareness and artistry.

Outputs: workshops (1.25h), research article

Rebellious Truth (2018 - 19)

An exploration of modern interpretations of traditional music, creative process and practitioner perceptions. Outputs include a concert curated for Celtic Connections international festival, Glasgow January 2019 and the production of a live album released in 2019.

Outputs: Live concert (1.5h), album (50m), presentation/recital (1h), research article

The New Traditional School in Scotland: Innovation, Beyond-tune composition and a Traditional Musicians' Creative Practice  (2005-2012)

A PhD study of contemporary traditional music practice in Scotland mapping beyond-tune composition and exploring innovative music making by traditional musicians (including myself).

Outputs: Thesis (67151w), portfolio (2.5h) and extensive fieldwork materials (40h+).

Structures for Freedom (2008 - 2010)


Current project grants

Celtic Connections commission £5000
School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures Knowledge Exchange and Impact grant £2760

Past project grants

Tasgadh grant 2018, Scots Language Café - £700
Transmission Fund, Authentic Artist Programme - £1476
Hope Scott Trust & Outlandia Residency 2017, Project Breathe - £1750
Tasgadh grant 2017, Mac Íle: The Music of Fraser Shaw (book) - £1000
Tasgadh grant 2015, The Music of Tom Hughes - £1000
Creative Scotland Quality Production 2014, Yarrow - £6000
Creative Scotland Quality Production 2013, Boreas Ahoy Hoy - £9347
EMS Trad Arts Small Grant 2013, Boreas Residency - £2954
Arts Trust Scotland Award 2011, Graphic Scores for Traditional Musicians - £2000