Historical Music of Scotland

At HMS.scot you can find the details of over 200 Scottish printed sources of fiddle music from before 1850. There also images and indexes of 22 whole books from the University of Glasgow and Perth's A K Bell Library. Browse the collection, search for tunes and composers, and play the tunes!

Catalogue entry for 'The Caledonian Muse'
Catalogue entry for 'The Caledonian Muse'

The project database includes over 200 printed sources of Scottish fiddle music from before 1850. It omits publications of songs and airs, and because of its bass-led focus, sources without basslines. Most of the sources are substantial printed collections, but the database also includes some of the hundreds of surviving single-sheet publications. Manuscript sources were excluded purely to keep the project to a manageable size at this stage.

Finding the limits of the repertoire to be included was work-in-progress. The project began by looking for sources of 'Scottish fiddle music', but the boundaries of this became ever more porous and difficult to define. In the past, Scottish fiddlers were familiar with a more diverse repertoire than our present-day conception of Scottish fiddle music might suggest. Also, the notion of Scottishness in music is difficult to pin down in a period when the notion of a national culture was only gradually taking shape.

Theoretical models for describing and analysing this music are still in their very early stages, so a detailed (or definitive) analysis is both inappropriate and probably impossible. The short notes on the music in each source give

  • a summary of the kind of repertoire it contains
  • some features of the basslines
  • particular points of interest that the research team noted on a brief survey of the contents

Project website: http://hms.scot/


Main contact: David McGuinness

Developer: Luca Guariento

Start year: 2012

End year: 2015

Funded by: AHRC

Subject area: Music

Keywords: Digital CatalogueDigitisationHistoryMusic

Record last updated 2019-12-16