My ethno trip to~ Scotland (PHASE 3)


For my ethnomusicology trip I am planning on traveling to Scotland for a month to study the world of traditional fiddle music there. I chose a month so in the future if I wanted to plan for even more time I would just have to times the research done here by as many months I intend to stay. We would be tracking down the different fiddle styles that used to be region specific but im sure the boarders have faded in its modern world. There has been lots of study already on this topic of fiddling but it would be more about the journey and recording or the music. It would be a great experience to meet the local musicians of the smaller areas and learn what its really all about when it comes to traditional fiddling.

BHLD hostel-camping-sign-orkney

The Travel~

Scotland wouldn’t be the cheapest place to travel to. So nickel and dimming everyday might be necessary. Plane tickets are quite pricy and the food situation is just about as expansive as here in Seattle if not more. I feel if we stick to the smaller areas on the in-land we would be able to have our funds last longer, as well as find the musicians that have not gotten much publicity compared the music scene on the coasts main cities which is booming. Theres a lot of camping and hostels on the entire island that are advertised so living and sleeping wont be such a huge expense. The thing on worried about the most would be the recording. This isnt a backwater isolated island anymore the civilization here is highly progressed and expensive. Im not going to be able to hand a musician $20 for a recording its going to be much more expensive. They are also going to want to know what the song is being used for and if there is any type of money being made off it they will want royalties. So now we have legal issues and contracts involved. I will just have to figure out some way to make it a non-profit research campaign where the musicians feel safe to donate there talents for free or at a much smaller price. I wouldn’t want to make money off this like I said it would all be for the experience and the knowledge of Scottish fiddling. Because I just love it!

Here are some prices we will encounter…

• Plane Ticket to Glasgow: $1,700 one way.


• Hostel per night in most expensive part of Scotland:  $30 (at most) $15 (ave) a night. $450 on ave a month.


• Wont need a translator practically all Scot’s learn english as a first language now days.

• If I had it my way I would be recording these strings with a match stereo pair of AKG 414′s. Its not like we are going into the mountains or anything, these are very advanced regions. Sure we will be going into small towns but its nothing like the backcountry. I feel we could keep these microphones safe enough to be able to capture the best audio we could. But they are very expensive, so as a second option I would choose the less price mimic model of the 414′s which are the AKG 214′s. Total it would $1200 dollars cheeper and I would feel far more safer having these microphones on the road. They would still provide high enough quality, but it wouldn’t be exactly like the 414′s. We would also have four XLR cables so we would have extras and a microphone T-bar. We would use the Sound Devices 702T – High-Resolution 2-Channel Compact Flash Field Recorder with Time Code for recording. Its pricey but why not do it right so your not wasting anybody’s time. Extra memory flash cards and batteries are also important. Total this set up would cost about $3000 max.


• I would want a two person team. Me and one other recording friend that also knows how to work the gear. It also wouldn’t hurt to know where and who we are recording a little bit before we got there just to start the trail. Get to know them and find where other musicians were to keep finding leads. So maybe I would get a person who knew the area better as a local who has relations with a few artists.


• We would need about 30 dollars a day to eat two filing a meals per person. Of coarse this is going to be less somedays and more on others. But I feel its necessary to over plan with money than to under budget. So total with the living expenses about $60 a day if we are in the most expensive regions which we wouldn’t be. One again its best to over budget. Being about $900 a month being very generous according to websites. But i asked my friend that lives over there and she said you can find bars that sell meals for $6 easy that would be filling. So that being about 20 dollars a day lets say, total a month for food would be $600.
• Transportation is going to be another big expense. But there are multiple options for travel which will be decided on how much you feel like spending and how fast you want to get to places. The easiest of coarse would be to rent a car or motorcycle, which would give you the the mobility of where ever you wanted to go but gas in american standards is very expensive. But the distances are much smaller also. Then theres bus which is the cheapest way to go but its slow. But there is bus routs to basically any region of the country. And lastly theres train which is in the middle of the two other options. More expensive than bus but its also faster. Train will get you to the main regions of the country but it wont take you to specific point on the inlands. Its a tuff one! Honestly I would want to get a motorcycle and trip around it sounds like the most time to money effective way to go. But then theres the inevitability of rain which would destroy gear and work. Thats why we would have all our electronics and gear at the bottom of our backpack triple water protected in out backpacks. Heres a section on travel from a website,“Travel by car or motorcycle allows you to get to remote places and to travel quickly, independently and flexibly. Scotland’s roads are generally good and far less busy than in England, so driving’s more enjoyable. However, cars are nearly always inconvenient in city centres.Motorways (designated ‘M’) are toll-free dual carriageways, limited mainly to central Scotland. Main roads (‘A’) are dual or single carriageways and are sometimes clogged with slow-moving trucks or caravans; the A9 from Perth to Inverness is notoriously busy. Life on the road is more relaxed and interesting on the secondary roads (designated ‘B’) and minor roads (undesignated). These wind through the countryside from village to village. You can’t travel fast, but you won’t want to. In many country areas, and especially in the Highlands and islands, roads are only single track with passing places. Remember that passing places are not only for allowing oncoming traffic to pass, but also for overtaking – check your rear-view mirror often, and pull over to let faster vehicles pass if necessary. It’s illegal to park in passing places. In the Highlands and islands there’s the added hazard of suicidal sheep wandering onto the road (be particularly wary of lambs in spring).At around 98p per litre (equivalent to more than US$7 per US gallon), petrol’s expensive by American or Australian standards; diesel is about 1p per litre cheaper. Distances, however, aren’t as great. Prices tend to rise as you get further from the main centres and are over 10% higher in the Outer Hebrides (around £1.09 a litre). In remote areas petrol stations are widely spaced and sometimes closed on Sunday.” (Scotland) From this information if we are sparring with our gas wisely and following a rout so we dont have to double back on our tracks I would guess we would spend about $300 on gas a month. And to rent the bike it would be about $2000 a month. Shit I would just buy a bike if I was gana spend this amount of money.
• We would have to figure out the compensation for the artists while we were their honestly. I would imagine they would like a larger sum of money due to the development of the culture. As well as some sort of contract stating the usage of the recording. Making sure that we weren’t making any money off of the songs that the musicians weren’t getting some sort of royalty from. Like I said before I think it would be a great idea to make it a educational study some how to the artists didnt feel like they were getting cheated out of money. I would still want to pay them, but I dont think I would be able to afford to pay each artist a record label wage. It would be much easier if we weren’t trying to make money off it. So lets say just for a price to have on record about $100 per artist. Hopefully finding and recording a new talent every 2 days because of travel thats about $1500 a month. Jeez im going to need a grant for this…. haha
• Remembering that all these prices are very generous and high balling it so it makes this trip look very expensive. It would take about $10,000 to fly there and back, get new gear, live, and record there for a month. But with spending that sort of money I would want to stay there longer to the plane tickets would be worth it. And we wouldn’t have to spend more money on gear ever so that price is not monthly. Hopefully we would be-friend people and after a time we wouldn’t have to pay for some night of living. And another huge price of that is really determined on how the musicians want to react to us asking to record them and if they would want a large sum of money or not. Regardless it would be fun! But i would never pay this amount of money to do this. I would either want a grant, or go somewhere that is much less developed so prices wouldn’t be as huge.
Feww…… All that pricing is done with now lets talk about what we would be doing.
images-1 crehan1
The Music~
Often the melodic line moves up and down the primary chords in so many songs. There are a number of possible reasons for this: Melodic variation can be easily introduced. Melodic variation is widely used in Celtic music, especially by the pipes and harp.It is easier to anticipate the direction that the melody will take, so that harmony either composed or improvised can be introduced: cliched cadences that are essential for impromptu harmony are also more easily formed.” (Wiki) 
What I would be paying attention to is learning more about these region specific Scottish fiddling styles that separated the country. I would want to learn more about them from the people of the tradition them selfs. I used to be a really great violinist myself so I feel I would want to get back into that instrument before this journey happened. I would want to be able to relate and learn traditional technique as we went around recording these great artists that may or may not be so well known.

• West coast style“Refers to the West coast of Scotland, specifically the western highlands and islands. The style and repertoire of the West coast fiddle player is strongly influenced by the music of the Highland bagpipe. Marches and jigs figure strongly in the repertoire and ornamentation tends to follow the piping idiom. Many of the slow airs in the West coast repertoire are directly derived from songs in the Gaelic language or have developed from the harp music of Scotland (now largely lost). Some of the airs are very ancient and can be extremely haunting in their simple beauty.” (bite your own elbow)

• East coast style“Tends to feature strathspeys in much the same way as the West coast style features marches. Playing the strathspey can become a very sophisticated art. In the hands of a skilled exponent the rhythms, bowing, and ornamentation add a unique character to tunes which can, in essence, be very simple.” (bite your own elbow)

• Shetland style“Originates from the Shetland islands. The music has very strong Nordic influences, reflecting the history and geography of the islands. The Shetland reel is now part of most Scottish fiddlers repertoire. The Shetland fiddler will play the reel with much use of ringing strings, where open strings are struck along with the tune producing an effect reminiscent of the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle. Shetland is a group of 100 islands, some 567 square miles in area with approximately 900 miles of coastline and a population of 23,000. Its location in the North Atlantic, to the north of the Scottish mainland, places it as close to Norway as it is to Aberdeen.” (bite your own elbow)

• Cape Breton style“Emanates from Nova Scotia in Canada. Scottish emigrants carried the art of fiddling with them to the New World where it has flourished to the great enrichment of the Scottish tradition. The style is closely related to Scottish fiddling as it was practiced 150 years ago in Scotland itself. Exponents of this style have produced some truly great music in the Scottish idiom.” (bite your own elbow)

 Finally a video to watch!

A Scottish Violin Tune-The Flowers of Edinburg

But Celtic music is not just restricted to the scottish highlands. Basically that entire region can be considered Celtic music but there are a few subgenera’s depending on the culture you are talking about. Quote, “In Celtic Music: A Complete Guide, June Skinner Sawyers acknowledges six Celtic Nationalities divided into two groups according to their linguistic heritage. The Q-Celtic nationalities are the Irish, Scottish and Manx peoples, while the P-Celtic groups are the Cornish, Bretons and Welsh peoples. Musician Alan Stivell uses a similar dichotomy, between the Gaelic (Irish/Scottish/Manx) and the Brythonic (Breton/Welsh/Cornish) branches, which differentiate “mostly by the extended range (sometimes more than two octaves) of Irish and Scottish melodies and the closed range of Breton and Welsh melodies (often reduced to a half-octave), and by the frequent use of the pure pentatonic scale in Gaelic music.” (Wiki) 

I was also finding information on the specific towns that have born famous Scottish fiddlers. These towns have had the fiddling tradition ingrained into there communities from these famous artists to this day. On our trip I would like to make a point of it to go to these villages and see a culture that has been so influenced by the fiddle.

The town of Banchory is eighteen miles from Aberdeen to the north. Historically it is the birthplace of the famous Scottish fiddler James Scott Skinner. Skinner has a square named after him in the town which is also the home of the Banchory Strathspey and Reel Society which was formed in 1932. The society has many members, past and and present, have won prizes for their solo fiddle playing in competitions such as the Glenfiddich Championships. A traditional music festival is held annually in Banchory every May that always has a enormous crowd.  Tarland, home  to the historical composer Peter Milne (1824-1908). He and has a reputation in this musical place. Tarland has strong musical links with Banchory, as fiddlers from the village in the past and at the present have often been members of the Banchory Strathspey and Reel Society.

~ Cited ~

• ”Scottish Fiddle Styles.” Scottish Fiddle Styles. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2014.

• ”Dr Frances Wilkins.” Dr Frances Wilkins. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2014.

• ”Scottish Fiddle.” Scottish Fiddle. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2014.
• “Scotland.” Transport in. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2014.