Spellweaving: Ancient music from the Highlands of Scotland

Ancient music from the Highlands of Scotland
Barnaby Brown, Clare Salaman, Bill Taylor
Delphian DCD34171. 74’37

DCD34171_coverHindorõdin hindodre (One of the Cragich),
Cumha Mhic Leòid (McLeod’s Lament),
Fear Pìoba Meata (The Timid Piper),
Cruinneachadh nan Sutharlanach (The Sutherlands’ Gathering),
Hiorodotra cheredeche (a nameless pibroch),
Port na Srian (The Horse’s Bridle Tune),
Pìobaireachd na Pàirce (The Park Pibroch),
Ceann Drochaid’ Innse-bheiridh (The End of Inchberry Bridge).

Opening with the sound of a rowing boat, seagulls and breaking waves is just the start of an extraordinary aural journey exploring the ancient music and instruments of the Scottish highlands. This recording, and its related research activities, aim to trace the evolution of ‘pibroch’ (pìobaireachd), translating as ‘what the piper does’. One thing a piper probably did not do was to use such a vast range of instruments to perform the music. For another part of their project involves studying the ‘Strange and Ancient’ instruments of our musical past. And so, rather than an hour of traditional bagpipes, we have the haunting sounds of a vulture bone flute (copied from an 30,000 year old original), a Highland clarsach (20-string harp) wire and gut stringed lyres (from originals found at Sutton Hoo and Sweden), a medieval fiddle, hurdy-gurdy and, perhaps most unusually, a Hardanger fiddle, an instrument dating back only to the mid 17th century. I doubt that these instruments were well known to Highland pipers or, indeed, collectively, by anybody in pre-modern days. Continue reading