Living Tradition Review

The album has had a great review in the Living Tradition. Thanks very much guys!

“It might seem invidious to isolate any individual contributors for special praise, but I’d have to single out singer Kirsty Law, whose voice commands our attention on the opening track, her setting of an Edinburgh street cry; this sub-genre seems to be somewhat of a speciality for her, since she also turns in a sparky big-band arrangement of Caller Oysters for Oysters And Herring. Also especially compelling are the contributions of singer and guitarist Alistair Mackie, in particular his song Pillars Of Sand (inspired by the “story of a sickly girl welcoming death” as told in the Archives by Stanley Robertson) and Robbie Greig, who provides a fine setting of a song by Dòmhnall Ruadh Chòruna which reflects from the trenches of WW1 on the beauty of his native North Uist. Charlie Stewart contributes some jazzy double bass to Kirsty Law’s own composition Weathered Hands, which addresses the issue of funding cuts to coastguard services by way of a tale from the Archives told by fiddler Tom Anderson, whose ancestors were fishermen. The instrumental playing is scintillating throughout, particularly that of Elinor Evans’ clarsach (her composition Journeys In Time is inspirational) and the fiddles of Robbie Greig and Charlie Stewart; while you shouldn’t read anything negative into my neglecting to mention thus far the consistent, well-managed piano playing of Hazel Turnbull and Pàdruig Morrison.

…the actual process of listening to this enchanting disc yields much pleasure, and I’d say that the young musicians involved are unquestionably succeeding in their stated aim, to make a genuine creative contribution to the living tradition of Scottish music.”David Kidman

See the full article here:

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The Muldrew

Archive Project alumnus Alastair Mackie has been working on a new EP since being part of the Archive Project. It will be available for download on Bandcamp and you can listen to the sample below to get an idea of what it’s all about. He’ll be playing at Teviot in Edinburgh on 1st March. Find out more here. Well done Alastair!

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Album of the week!

We are very excited that we are currently Album of the Week on BBC Radio nan Gaidheal’s Caithream Ciuil programme. Listen again here:

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Reflection on the project

Robbie and Pàdruig reflected on what they thought they got out of the project. They wrote:

‘The Archive Project has helped me realise the potential that can be brought from collaboration with new people, and has taught me about skills that I can use to further myself in the music industry. My own engagement with traditional music was furthered by having to keep to deadlines and being allowed the freedom to research for myself the things that I want to research and create music in form around that. I had no idea how vast the heritage materials at SSS are and how valuable they are to not only our culture and heritage, but also to our society.’ Robbie

‘It has allowed me to gain experience in a new avenue of composition; composition in response to stimulus. This is something that I can use throughout my career. Tobar an Dualchais is a fantastic resource that I have learnt how to use sophisticatedly, and this has been added too by learning how to search for particular unnamed contributors or untitled tunes though special search websites. Furthermore, the experience of making a CD and working to achieve it has taught me useful skills for my career. I feel the Archive Project has opened a huge door for me in terms of keeping the tradition preserved through continuation and regeneration of cultural gems, captured on tape for our benefit. I can now continue to, as the Archive Project has allowed me to begin, compose with firm historical roots to what I write. The AP has not only increased my understanding but also my appreciation of the heritage materials in SSS by exposing me to such a vast array of inspiring recordings and to people who are passionate about them.’ Pàdruig

I asked Robbie:

- What was the most important/valuable thing (or things) you learned from working on the Archive Project?

The most important thing I learned on the Archive Project was that our culture has to be respected and it has taught me to overlook mistakes/anomalies in recordings from the archives, because they are very valuable to the culture. I learned a lot more about the North Uist Gaelic dialect after transcribing from Domhnall Ruadh Choruna’s tape.

- Has the project led you to anything new that you are now involved with? (And how did it help?)

The project has furthered my already existing collaboration with Pàdruig Moireasdan, by allowing us to work together on more complicated chordal arrangements and introducing us to song arrangement. The project has also been an asset to my collaboration with Charlie Stewart, who I believe is a good contact to have (being one of the only trad bass players of his micro-generation).

- Which of the tracks (other than your own) is your favourite and why?

Kirsty Law’s ‘Barefit Lasses’ is one of my favourite tracks, because of it’s simplicity and the amalgamation of different stories and influences within it.

- What is your understanding of traditional music and the Archives now compared to what it was at the beginning of the project?

My understanding of the archives has increased hugely, and I have a deeper understanding of the tradition having visited the SSS.

- What now for you?

I am going to carry on playing and performing with a wider pool of resources available to me through the artistic collaboration, PR skills, cultural development and understanding that I’ve learnt on the Archive Project.


Thanks for your thoughts, lads!

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Shortlisted for the Voluntary Arts Epic Awards

We are very excited that the Archive Project has been shortlisted for the Voluntary Arts Epic Awards. This means the project was considered to be innovative and inspiring, engaging communities and forming new collaborations. Voting is taking place now, so it would help us out a lot if you could take a look at our page and vote for us!

It’s been a fantastic project and we’ve had loads of great feedback including an article in the Scotsman from Jim Gilchrist. You can read that here. In the meantime, keep an eye out for all our developments and the latest from EYG. Their next collaboration is with Bhangra act Tigerstyle.

And of course, don’t forget to buy a copy of the album!


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Tinderbox Orchestra takes on music from the Archive Project

As a really exciting bonus of this project, EYG’s Big Band teamed up with Tinderbox Orchestra to play an arrangement Pàdruig’s Cas na Caora track from the album at the big finale concert of their ambitious project Journey of a Thousand Wings. The challenge of arranging the music for a full-blown orchestra was taken on by Tinderbox apprentice Graham Coe. I asked him a few questions about what the experience was like:

Q: What was your role with the Tinderbox Orchestra?

I have been a member of the orchestra since the very beginning, but this year I was part of the Tinderbox Apprentices program, which involved orchestrating and conducting a piece each, and generally taking a more active role in the orchestra. We still got to play in the orchestra, though!

Q: What was it like arranging Cas na Caora? Were there any major challenges?

Arranging Cas Na Caora was an awesome experience. The strength of Pàdruig’s tunes made my job easy in many ways, as the main melody could always carry the piece forward regardless of any orchestral embellishments I might add. I enjoyed taking the very stripped-back traditional sound and morphing it into the full-on rock band setting, and experimenting with adding rhythms and different chords to take the tunes to new places. One of the challenges in the orchestration, particularly in ‘Bodach Rocabarraigh’ was staging the build in arrangement and dynamic so that the intensity could always increase with every repetition. The tune pushed me to come up with effective ways to top the intensity of the previous repetition.

Q: How did you find the added challenge of working with the EYG Big Band?

I think the enthusiasm and intuitiveness of the band made their addition to the orchestra pretty much seamless and highly valuable. I had to say very little since the players would just jam along and detect when and when not to play, really listening to the music. Such capable fingers all round too!

Q: How did you feel when you finally conducted the arrangement at the Journey of a Thousand Wings concert?

Prior to this course I had never conducted anything before in my life so the first rehearsal was pretty nerve-wracking for me, but with every rehearsal I gained confidence and when it came to the concert I just really enjoyed myself. The sound of the orchestra was just phenomenal, especially with EYG involved. Definitely an experience I’ll never forget!

Q: How did Cas na Caora fit in with the philosophy of the overall project?

Extremely well. With the Journey of a Thousand Wings project bringing various collaborations together from around the world, having a piece from the host country containing tunes from the depths of its musical heritage along with new tunes written by a brilliant member of the contemporary generation gave a sense of completeness.

Q: What do you know about the School of Scottish Studies Archives now? Had you come across them before and do you think you would like to work with them more in the future?

I had not come across the Archives before, and I’m glad this project has made me aware. The experience has shown me how something completely traditional can be transformed into an entirely different context, while still allowing the power of the tunes to shine through. I would love be involved with the Archives in the future!



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The Designer’s point of view

It was a privilege to work with a fantastic design student who undertook the complex task of Album Artwork. So thanks very much, Jo Myerscough, for doing such a great job! Here’s what she has to say:

I remember the excitement I felt at being asked to design the CD cover for the Archive Project. As a student designer it was a fantastic opportunity to showcase my skills and collaborate with other talented individuals. My first steps were to research as much as I could about traditional music and the people behind it; the Archive Project blog was a constant source of inspiration. Gradually, the concept for the cover came together. We focused on the idea of the old and new coming together, of reinventing traditional music by giving it a fresh perspective. We worked closely with Conrad Molleson who produced some beautiful illustrations and created the painted text used on the album.

Perhaps the turning point for me, the moment that inspired me the most was when I visit the archives for the first time. It is a treasure trove of old photos and memoirs! I spent the afternoon flipping through the old files, my favourites being the photographs of old nets and fishermen, many of which are featured on the album. If I had had longer, I would have loved to have taken a look at the old maps of Scotland and the coastline. What a gem, I would recommend a visit there to anyone.

Working on this CD has taught me a lot about time management, organisation and the importance of researching the project beforehand. I really wanted to achieve a sense of originality with the CD and above all, reflect the passion and spirit of the artists who created the beautiful music. I’m sure there is plenty more in store for the future!


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Sample track from the new album

As a treat, here’s a sample track from the new album, ‘Samhainn’ by Hazel. Please support the project by buying a copy of the album!

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The CDs have arrived!

You can buy a copy of the CD at the Scots Fiddle Festival this Saturday and Sunday (23rd and 24th Nov) at the King’s Hall in Edinburgh, or through the EYG shop.

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Pàdruig talks about Bodach Ròcabarraigh

Find out more about Bodach Ròcabarraigh here.

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