Rudolstadt Folk Festival: Sketches of Scotland

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Delivered a paper entitled: 'Singing for the Dance: Revitalising an Old Hebridean Tradition'

In the past, dancers in the Scottish Highlands and Islands used to provide their own musical accompaniment, through song. In Uist, in the Outer Hebrides, this practice survived at weddings and house ceilidhs until the early 20th century, but it was much more widespread in earlier times. Like similar traditions in Brittany and the Faroes, there was little distinction between singing and dancing in the minds of the participants. Neither was there a separation between dancers and musicians. As such, the practice was holistic, inclusive and community-centred, and quite different from the more formal, instrument-led dances found today.

In this paper, I will discuss an ongoing project to recreate this important, old tradition in cooperation with Ceòlas Uibhist, a Uist-based community group. I will also detail the background of Gaelic song and dance, more generally, and some of the interesting questions that remain about the interconnections between early Scottish instrumental music and dance song, in Scots and Scottish Gaelic.

Lamb, William. 2012. Keith Norman MacDonald's Puirt-à-Beul: With an Introduction and Historical Notes (Upper Breakish: Taigh na Teud).
———. 2013. ‘Reeling in the strathspey: The origins of Scotland’s national music’, Scottish Studies, 36: 66-102.
———. 2014. ‘Grafting culture: On the development and diffusion of the strathspey in Scottish music’, Scottish Studies, 37: 94-104.
———. 2016. ‘The strathspey in Scottish music: On its origins and “uneasy relationship” with the highland bagpipes’. In Piping Times, 69(2): 24-37. Glasgow: College of Piping.
Period7 Jul 2017
Event titleRudolstadt Folk Festival: Sketches of Scotland
Event typeConference
LocationRudolstadt, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational