Research and innovation

Music archive embraces fresh takes on tradition

Dynamic contemporary works by Scottish folk musicians are to be widely shared, thanks to a recently launched initiative informed by Edinburgh researchers.

A new national music collection will preserve and make available an array of modern sheet music and recordings for study or hire.

Around 100 innovative pieces created by traditional musicians over the past 40 years will be added to the collection of the Scottish Music Centre in Glasgow.

Distinct genre

Curators say the works’ inclusion is vital to promote a distinctive new genre of traditional music, the significance of which needs to be recognised and documented.

Its range is extensive, expanding beyond conventional folk music forms that tend to be based on short dance-related melodies, and with longer running times than conventional tune compositions and arrangements.

Dr Lori Watson plays the fiddle.
Dr Lori Watson plays the fiddle.

Musical stimulus

The team hopes the additions will help traditional and folk musicians develop their own extended and experimental compositions and inspire fresh performances.

The initiative is shaped by the research of Dr Lori Watson, a traditional musician, composer and lecturer in Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University, where the music collection, fieldwork and additional materials will be archived.

These larger-scale compositions were partly a response to the ambitious performances of Ireland’s Shaun Davey and Brittany’s Alain Stivell in the 1980s,

Those performances asserted a new form of Celtic music on the international stage and, by the late 1990s, things really took off in Scotland.

Dr Lori WatsonLecturer in Celtic and Scottish Studies

Many of these new compositions were driven by commissions from the annual Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow and the twice-yearly Distil gathering. They also coincided with the development of folk music programmes at Higher Education institutions.

The contemporary material will be an invaluable addition to the Centre’s vast collection of manuscripts and recordings, the project team says. It will deepen understanding of new music being written in Scotland and help to inspire new musical innovations.

These distinguished contemporary composers are showcasing a modern musical identity for Scotland – this exciting development aligns with the Centre's mission to drive Scottish music forward while preserving its traditional roots.

Sophie RocksScottish Music Centre

The Scottish Music Centre, which was founded in 1968, aims to document and promote Scottish music of all kinds and is funded by Creative Scotland.

The Centre’s extensive archive provides materials for research and performance and attracts around 500 enquiries from at home and abroad each year.

The new archive project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.  

Related links

Scottish Music Centre