This page is dedicated to the audio tracks featuring in the book Focus: Scottish Traditional Music by Simon McKerrell published by Taylor and Francis.
1 Scottish ballad, ‘The Twa Brothers’
A wonderful traditional ballad. There are several different versions of this online. Here is a link to Shiela Stewart singing the ballad in the important digital archive of Scottish traditional music Tobar and Dulchais:
2 Piobaireachd ‘Farewell to the Laird of Islay’, performed
by Simon McKerrell
Here I present a recording of the piobaireachd Farewell to the Laird of Islay, (see book for score by kind permission of The Piobaireachd Society).
If you are interested in hearing more from Simon McKerrell on pipes, please see his 2012 solo album Live at the King's Hall available to download from Amazon, iTunes, etc.
3 March, strathspey and reel performance
The march, strathspey and reel format is also something uniquely Scottish, and is key to the pipe band tradition. Here's a great and very recent video of the world leading Northern Irish Field Marshall Montgomery pipe band playing the march, Brigadier Ronald Cheape of Tiroran, the strathspey, Blair Drummond, and the reel, Pretty Marion, which won them 1st place at the British Championships in 2015. If you watch carefully you'll see that the Pipe Major has to pull out a random number from a bag before the performance--that is the band learning just before they play which selection of tunes they are to perform and this random choice immediately prior to performance is a common feature of competitive piping.
4 Scottish Gaelic psalm singing
A unique Scottish musical tradition, here's a great example from the community of Back, on the Isle of Lewis recorded in 2003:
5 Marquis of Huntly's Farewell and Tullybardine's Reel, played by Hector MacAndrew
A legend of the Scottish fiddle, Hector MacAndrew was a leading exponent of the North East fiddling tradition with a teaching lineage going directly back to Niel Gow. Here he is performing a march, strathspey and reel:
6 A reel, ‘Mrs MacLeod of Rasaay’
This is one of the most canonical Scottish reels and is often performed for dancing. Here's a great recording of the Jim Johnstone dance band playing it as the first reel in a set for dancing released in 1971:
It's also a really useful tune for teaching bowing on the fiddle and is used by teaching groups in Scottish music throughout the world. Here's a really useful video showing the tune played fast and then slow down for fiddlers by Fiona Cuthill:
7 ‘My Love’s Like a Red, Red Rose’
This is an iconic Scottish song with a complex history. Robert Burns published a version (with a different tune) in 1797 in volume 5 of the Scots Musical Museum in the 1780s, and it has proved to be one of the most popular love songs in the world. The key metaphor in the song is that love is like a rose; which has both the beautiful flower and the painful thorns, and as such is a 'universal' metaphor that captures the great joy and pain that are part of the human experience of love. My favourite recorded version of this song is the one recorded by the late (and much missed) Davie Steele:
There has been quite a lot of recent research on Robert Burns and very important collection--The Scots Musical Museum. You can read more about the project here.
8 ‘Niel Gow’s Lament for the Death of his Brother Donald'
An old classic for the fiddle, here's a great version by Ian Fraser:
9 ‘Parcel O Rogues in a Nation’
My favourite version of this song is sung by Rod Paterson, here is an extract of his version:
By kind permission of Rod Paterson and Greentrax Records. Here is a link to the full song on his album at Greentrax Records.
10 ‘Proddy Dogs and Papes’
As discussed in chapter 8 of the book, one of the late, great Alistair Hulett's songs 'Proddy Dogs and Papes' deals both with the sectarian dimensions of Scottish cultural life, but perhaps in this context, the more central message is an anti-sectarian satirisation of Scottish internal conflicts which have distracted Scots from their domination by the English within the Union. This version here is from the 2004 album A Poor Man’s Labour by Mick West and his band, by kind permission of both the Alistair Hullett Trust and Mick West.