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Aly Bain

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Scottish Fiddle Orchestra

Scottish Music

Scottish Music comes in a large variety of forms. First of all there are the various Summer Shows which you will find throughout Scotland, mostly aimed at tourist coach parties. These shows host a predominance of tartan, bagpipes, highland dancing and songs of hills and heather - essentially the image many tourists have of Scotland. They follow a successful recipe made famous by the television series 'The White Heather Club' aired in the 1960s.

If dancing is your pleasure then there are several choices from the more formal Scottish Country Dance Societies to the less formal Ceilidh Dancing. The third popular form in Scotland is highland dancing which is essentially a solo or group performance. There are hundreds if not thousands of Country Dance societies throughout the world many of which have their own web-site. Scottish Country Dancers tend to prefer music played to a strict tempo - bands such as the world famous Jimmy Shand, Jim Johnstone, John Ellis to name but a few. Bands invariably comprise of two accordions, fiddle, piano, bass and drums. These bands also perform at the vibrant 'Accordion and Fiddle Club' scene throughout Scotland.

Increasing in popularity is the 'ceilidh dance' a version where formality goes out of the window. A dance caller shouts out instructions to experienced dancers and beginners. The main purpose is enjoyment, dancing ability is irrelevant. Bands comprise of various line-ups ranging from the more sedate "Scottish Country Dance Band" formula to a full blown rock rhythm backing Celtic melodies. Bands such as The Benachally Ceilidh Band, Craigenroan Ceilidh Band, Cutting Edge, The Occasionals and Alasdair MacCuish & Black Rose Ceilidh Band are amongst the most popular.

The Scottish folk circuit is where many Scots would look for a real cultural night out. It is alive and vibrant, it is not just about tradition. There are many contemporary song-writers as well as traditionalists. Artists such as Dougie MacLean, Eric Bogle, Archie Fisher, Hamish Imlach, Battlefield Band, Dick Gaughan, Tannahill Weavers, Phil Cunningham, Aly Bain have made a lucrative living playing to world-wide audiences.  Another large part of the folk circuit is the 'folk festival'. Folk festivals comprise of a mixture of concerts, ceilidhs and workshops where young and learner musicians can seek tuition from some of Scotland's top folk artists.

Scottish Highland bagpipe music forms another huge attraction to Scottish visitors throughout the summer months. There are hundreds of pipe bands throughout Scotland and indeed there are hundreds more throughout the world. Pipe bands can be seen parading down town high streets or through highland games events - this is a sight to behold. Many of Scotland's most popular contemporary groups feature the great Scottish Highland Bagpipe e.g. The Battlefield Band, Wolfstone and Ceolbeg.

Fiddle Orchestras also have their place. The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra is possible the name most associated with this form of music but lesser orchestras in Kirriemuir, Elgin and Fochabers have been existence for decades.

Then there is Gaelic music, which again falls into two categories, the formal and the less so. The formal consists of gaelic choirs up and down the country with the mega event being the national Mod once a year. The less formal are essentially concert hall based and consist of groups like Runrig, Capercaillie, Clan na Gael.

Now the above are guidelines, there is considerable overlap from one genre to the other. The term Celtic music covers several of them and indeed in some branches exchange with Irish artistes is commonplace, indeed several groups are part Irish part Scots e.g., Capercaillie, Waterboys, Relativity.

If you would like to hear some great Scottish music on a highly personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me:

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