Here is the audio and some pictures from the collaboration performance.
Since I’m away (in Scotland, go figure), I’ve posted my final project presentation here for anyone who wants to watch it!
After reviewing all of my interviews, I believe I have a pretty good grasp on what my final presentation will entail. However, I know that I do not have a complete grasp on traditional music; I have not even scratched the surface. The history of Scottish music is both incredibly broad and deep. It stretches all over the world and all through time, intertwining itself with endless other traditions, and evolving in different ways. For instance, let’s follow one path (of many) that Scottish music took to get to the United States. In the 18th century, a series of waves of emigration from Scotland known as the Highland Clearances caused thousands of Scots to become spread around the New World. One such large group in 1792 went to the island of Nova Scotia (latin for “New Scotland”), bringing with them the contemporary traditional music of Scotland, mainly on fiddles (an easily portable instrument). While the traditional music in Scotland continued to evolve and be effected by other cultures and music styles, the music that came over to the isolated island of Nove Scotia, mainly Cape Breton, remained strikingly the same, with only a few stylistic changes. To this day, Cape Breton players still call their music “Scottish music,” though it is referred to elsewhere as “Cape Breton music.” In more modern times, there have been big waves of movement from Cape Breton to the United States, almost all to Boston, because of the large city’s proximity to the island and the job opportunities there. With these waves, Cape Breton music, also very much the Scottish music of the 18th century, came to the United States. Upon arriving, it met not only American music, but also the more modern Scottish traditional music. So already, although we have followed one path, three have crossed. The availability of these varying traditional music styles in modern times adds to the intermixing of them, and allows people to be as diverse and open to different cultures as they are today.
I’ve just returned from the celtic camp/festival where I conducted my big interviews, and, as I feared, my thoughts have completely changed course. I am still interested in the Scottish music and its immigration to the United States, but there is so much more to consider. The three professional musicians I interviewed were all from different backgrounds: on Irish, one Scottish, and one American. And yet they all play traditional Scottish music. In addition, they also all play other styles! Billy Jackson in a renowned Scottish harp player, yet he also plays Irish harp and whistle, and bozouki. Before these, he played fiddle and stand-up bass! Brian McNeill is a founding member of the famous Battlefield Band that helped revive traditional Scottish music, yet he began his musical career in a rock band playing guitar and electric bass. He also currently plays much traditional Irish music. Jeremy Kittel won the US National Scottish Fiddle Competition when he was 16, and now, at 28, has a Masters in jazz, and plays almost everything under the sun. During these interviews I was just amazed at how diverse everyone’s backgrounds were, how open they were (and are) to other traditions and styles, and especially how easy it is for them to explore these other styles. During the camp, I met with 4 other musicians my age who also demonstrated this ease of access and diversity: a fiddle player from Maryland who expertly plays the music of Cape Breton, a fiddle and banjo player from Ohio who excells in classical as well as irish and jazz, a guitar, banjo, and bodhran (celtic drum) player from Connecticut who dabbles in all celtic styles as well as bluegrass and modern alternative rock, and a fiddler from Ottowa who plays Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, and French-Canadian styles, as well as classical. These 4 musicians and I (a fiddler from Maryland who plays mainly Scottish, but also Irish, Cape Breton, bluegrass, and classical) collaborated on a group performance that showcased the wide range of styles that we have been exposed to (already, at the ages of 17-19). It is now time for me to go back over my interviews, my research, and my experiences and come to a conclusion to conclude my project. There is so much to talk about!!