folk music

What is Folk Music?

It’s the traditional music of a group of people passed down through families and other small social groups. It’s often rural music that is learned orally rather than written down. It’s often thought of as being music belonging to “the people” that usually has unknown composers, is played on traditional instruments and has themes of nationalist, patriotic, symbolic or touches on themes of love and death. It’s also tightly tied to people’s experiences of historical events like wars, invasions, and epidemics. Folk music is an oral sung history of a people. Examples of folk music include war songs, anti-war songs, drinking songs, work songs, love songs,  waulking songs, and sea shanties.

Gaelic Lament: Phil Cunningham in Conversation with Margaret Bennett

When it comes to expressing loss, no one can do it like the Gaels. Their laments could melt the hardest heart and are absolutely beautiful. It’s almost as if they could heal the soul even if you don’t know what the words mean.

Norman Kennedy: The Warp and Weft of Tradition

Norman Kennedy comes from a long line of sea-faring Aberdonians. He was born in 1933 and during WW2 the family moved to the same neighbourhood as Jeannie Robertson, and other singers. By the time Norman was in his teens he had an unmatched repertoire of Scots ballads, and 1953 he went to Barra to learn Gaelic as well as spinning, dyeing and weaving. In 1960, Dr John MacInnes recorded him for the School of Scottish Studies, and in 1965 he was invited to represent Scotland at the Newport Folk Festival. Norman was a huge influence on singers during the folk revival of the Fifties and Sixties and in 1966, when he moved to the USA as master-weaver at the Williamsburg Museum he became a leading figure in the world of folksong and traditional wool-crafts. Recipient of many awards and accolades, Norman Kennedy is one of the most influential tradition-bearers of his time.

Margaret Bennett: A Tapestry of Storytelling, Song, and Sea

The Saltire Society brings you Margaret Bennett, renowned storyteller, as she journeys throughout Scotland from her fireside.

A mix of traditional stories and song will take us further afield than we’ve been all year and give you a piece of calm.

From Gaelic Bards to Country Music Stars

5/10/20 – In this talk, Professor Margaret Bennett gives an overview of her generation-spanning work in Newfoundland recording the music of one family. She tracks the family’s musical traditions, from Gaelic tunes brought over from the Isle of Canna and Moidart, to French, Irish and Mi’kmaq.

Dundee Street Songs

William Montgomerie (1904¬–1994) was born and brought up in Glasgow. He became a teacher and moved to Dundee, where he met and married Norah Shargool (1909–1998), an artist with D.C. Thomson.  They shared a passion for the Scots language and folklore and began collecting children’s rhymes, songs and games in the 1930s.  Their first book was published in 1946 and together they produced over a dozen books.