Wednesday 1 June 2005

Back Home again

Well we're back home again after a 2 week tour of the Western Isles of Scotland. 2 weeks when we managed to avoid emails and world news. I've come back with a clutch of CD's of Gaelic music. One, bought from the shop at Iona Abbey, is a compilation of historical recordings made by Edinburgh University's School of Scottish Studies, The Carrying Stream, from Greentrax records. A lovely mixture of Gaelic songs, Gaelic Psalm singing and piping, with the odd Scots song and folk tale. A good taster and a fine record of a dying tradition.

Another in the clutch (and currently my favourite), is Salm (pronounce Salam) and Gaelic for Psalm. It is a disc of Gaelic Psalm singing. A distinctive genre, in which a precentor is joined by a congration who sing their own ornamented variants of the melody. So that the result is not a standard uniform hymn singing, but a glorious melange - free heterophony. This disc is not historic, but is a modern attempt to record the best of the tradition, recorded in Back Free Church on Lewis. This volume Salm volume 1 is the first of 2 (or three) and is also available from Greentrax records.

Another disc was less of a success, instead of buying a historical compilation of Pibroch, but turns out to be a compilation of teaching aids with various distinguished pipers speaking and singing in order to teach the Pibroch. It includes a couple of tracks of full piping but was not quite what I imagined and rather a specialised taste. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to find the time to go back to the shop in Portree (on Skye) and ask if I can change the disc!

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