[Scottish flag]Scottish Music Page

Welcome to my Scottish music page! This page contains information about the music of Scotland - types of tunes, unique instruments, notable musicians and groups, and more.

General Information

Scottish music, like Irish music, has a very long-lived and diverse tradition. The average person tends to think of bagpipes when they think of Scottish music, but they're only a part of the tradition. I really don't have much more to say by way of introduction, so just check out the rest of this page for more information.

James Scott Skinner
Anyone who has already gone through my MIDI pages will be familiar with some of Skinner's work. During his lifetime (1843-1927) he composed quite a few tunes which have become "standard" in Scottish music over the years. Check out the following links to find out more about him:

Musicians & Groups

Alasdair Fraser
The more I lisen to his music, the more I enjoy it. His style, in my opinion, almost matches the fluid grace of Martin Hayes at times. He also has a very firm grounding in the more "traditional" style of playing and seems equally comfortable playing both traditional and modern tunes.
Aly Bain
A great fiddler from the strong Shetland fiddle tradition.Some of his more recent work has been with Phil Cunningham (who also appears on this page - just keep reading) and with the BT Scottish Ensemble.
Battlefield Band
Battlefield Band has been making great music for a long time now. Alan Reid started things off in 1969, and the "Batties" have been going strong ever since. Along with the traditional music, they play quite a few of their own "creations."
  • Group members:
  • Alan Reid - keyboard, vocals, guitar
  • Alasdair White - fiddle, whistle, banjo, bouzouki, Highland pipes, small pipes, bodhran
  • Pat Kilbride - vocals, guitar, cittern
  • Mike Katz - Highland pipes, small pipes, whistle, bass guitar
For some reason, I'm still tempted to call them one of the best "young" groups in Scottish music, even though they've been in business for quite a few years now.They have a very modern sound and play quite a few of their own compositions, but I think the real strength of the band is Karen Matheson's Gaelic vocals. In fact, Capercaillie's version of the traditional waulking song Coisich, a Rùin made the UK Top 40 charts.Not bad for an old Scots Gaelic tune, is it?
  • Group members:
  • Karen Matheson - lead vocals
  • Manus Lunny - bouzouki, guitar, vocals
  • Charlie McKerron - fiddle
  • Donald Shaw - accordion, keyboards
  • Michael McGoldrick - flute, whistle, uilleann pipes
  • Ewen Vernal - acoustic & electric bass
  • James MacKintosh - percussion
Johnny Cunningham
Johnny was part of the original lineup of the Celtic Fiddle Festival and also was a member of Relativity, Nightnoise, and Silly Wizard. He was also involved in many other musical ventures in his life, which sadly was cut short by a heart attack on December 15, 2003. His musical talent and sense of humor will be missed by all who had the opportunity to experience them.
Phil Cunningham
Phil (brother of the late Johnny Cunningham mentioned above) is an outstanding player of the piano accordion and is also an accomplished composer. He is a former member of Silly Wizard (where he played alongside his brother and Andy M. Stewart, among others) and Relativity (along with his brother, Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill).
Dick Gaughan
I think I'd have to rate him as my second-favorite English-language singer/songwriter (I know, that's a lot of adjectives!). His website is well worth visiting, in my opinion. It's well-run, and it shows that he's not only a talented musician, he's good at web design and writing as well. He runs the site himself, and I've thoroughly enjoyed reading his "Ramblings."
Dougie MacLean
Dougie MacLean is the reason why Dick Gaughan is only my second-favorite English-language singer/songwriter.He is an exceptionally gifted songwriter and singer, but also has a fairly wide range of instrumental talent to go along with the vocal talent.I really wish I knew how to describe his music better than this, but if you listen to it, it'll speak for itself.
Hamish Moore
Hamish Moore is an accomplished player - and maker - of the Scottish small pipes (or Border pipes, as they are sometimes called).He plays mostly traditional music, although his collaboration with Dick Lee produced some very intriguing jazz-like sounds from Hamish's pipes.Hamish also has a strong interest in the music of Cape Breton.
Tannahill Weavers
The "Tannies" are another one of Scotland's long-lived traditional bands.They seem to specialize in vocals and high-octane fiddling and piping, and for good reason - that's what they're good at. When you listen to them, be ready to dance and sing, because you'll want to (even if you're like me and your singing and dancing abilities are completely non-existent).
  • Group members:
  • Roy Gullane - guitar, lead vocals
  • Phil Smillie - flute, bodhran, whistle, harmony vocals
  • Leslie "Les" Wilson - guitar, bouzouki, keyboards, bass pedals, vocals
  • John Martin - fiddle, cello, viola, bass vocals
  • Colin Melville - Highland pipes, Scottish small pipes, whistles
Anyone who likes Scottish music and/or rock music would probably find Wolfstone interesting.Their style isn't just rock music with bagpipes added, though.They play an interesting combination of rock music and traditional music.
  • Group members:
  • Duncan Chisholm - fiddle
  • Ivan Drever - vocals, acoustic guitar, bouzouki
  • Struan Eaglesham - keyboards
  • Stuart Eaglesham - vocals, acousitc & electric guitars
  • Wayne Mackenzie - bass
  • Mop Youngson - drums
  • Stevie Saint - pipes

Unique Instruments

Highland pipes
When most people think about Scotland, the Highland pipes are at or near the top of the list of things that come to mind. Many people claim to strongly dislike them, while others (like me) feel quite the other way about them. I love the way they sound, but I unfortunately can't claim to have much technical information about how they work.

Types of Tunes

Note: Sheet music and MIDI files are available for each tune. Just click the "Sheet music" link to view the sheet music, or click the "MIDI file" link to listen to the MIDI file. You can also save the sheet music or MIDI file by right-clicking the link and selecting "Save As", "Save Link As", or "Save Target As" (depending on which browser you're using) on the menu that appears.

Reel [ Sheet music | MIDI file ]
As it is in Irish music, the reel is the most common tune in Scottish music. The main difference is the fact that quite a few reels in Scotland are particularly suited for the bagpipes. Pipe reels (like the sample tune I've selected) tend to have some pretty interesting and unique ornamentation which give them a different sound than other reels. The sample tune I have chosen is "The Flagon;" this version comes from the playing of Hamish Moore.
Strathspey [ Sheet music | MIDI file ]
The strathspey is a very unique type of tune which exists almost exclusively in the Scottish and Cape Breton musical traditions. Strathspeys originated in Scotland and later made the move to Cape Breton along with the many native Highlanders who were forced from their homes during the Highland Clearances. The sample tune I've chosen ("The Laird of Drumblair") is a very lively (but complicated) tune from legendary composer James Scott Skinner.
March [ Sheet music | MIDI file ]
Scottish marches, like Irish marches, come in all different time signatures, making it hard to come up with a particular "standard." However, Scottish marches are known for their tendency to use the "Scotch snap" much like strathspeys do. Of course, there's also the fact that quite a few Scottish marches are meant to be played on the pipes - like the example I've provided ("MacLeod of Mull").
Jig [ Sheet music | MIDI file ]
Scottish jigs are, in most cases, very similar to 6/8 marches. The rhythm is practically the same, so sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between a 6/8 march and a jig in Scottish music. The sample tune ("Blue Bonnets are Over the Border") should help to illustrate that point.
Hornpipe [ Sheet music | MIDI file ]
Hornpipes are also an important part of the Scottish musical tradition, just like they are in Ireland. So far, I haven't been able to detect any real differences between Irish and Scottish hornpipes - if anyone has any thoughts about that, I'd love to know what they are! Anyway, the sample tune ("The Flowers of Edinburgh") is an excellent example of a Scottish hornpipe.