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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Scottish Ethnology

Postgraduate Course: Traditional Song - Scots (SCET11014)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryScots song is a hugely important part of the traditional culture of Scotland both past and present. The course aims to cover some of the different types of songs we have, the cultural contexts in which these arose, and will include songs from both the oral tradition and named composers. There will be a strong focus on case-study examples and on sung performance, both recorded and live! Insights will be drawn from the discipline of ethnomusicology to support analysis and understanding.

This course is jointly taught with undergraduate students. PG students will receive at least one additional session of lecturer time in the form of a seminar or tutorial.
Course description The course falls into three sections. The first explores the roots of the tradition, and considers the medieval forerunners we have of some of the ballads, and places the ballad tradition within its cultural context. The second examines the reworking of the tradition in the 18th and 19th centuries (literary and musical) by various individuals such as Robert Burns, Caroline Oliphant (Lady Nairne), and William Christie. The third section considers the dissemination of the tradition in the 20th century, through stage performances (including Music-Hall), commercial and archive recordings, and the availability of published collections, such as The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection.

In each lecture, we will focus on specific songs which will act as case-studies to exemplify the points under consideration. Attention will be paid to the particular singers from whom versions were received and also to the work of collection that transferred them from their oral milieu to the written or printed page. Recordings of traditional and revival performances will be played, and will be drawn particularly from the School of Scottish Studies Archives at the University of Edinburgh. A piece of required reading will complement each lecture, as will a short reading list related to each topic.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate increased knowledge of the different types of song found within Scots tradition (e.g. ballads, farm songs, lyric songs), and of the emphasis of collectors/editors at different periods
  2. show awareness of the characteristics of the tradition as a whole
  3. demonstrate familiarity with a range of key texts which deal with the subject of Scots song
  4. demonstrate greater awareness of some of the issues connected with song, e.g. authenticity, orality and literacy, transmission and revival
  5. show competence in transferable skills, e.g. critical evaluation of source material, independent reading, coherent and clearly structured writing, group discussion, time management.
Reading List
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements Jointly taught with undergraduate students (SCET10024).
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Gary West
Tel: (0131 6)50 4151
Course secretaryMiss Charlotte McLean
Tel: (0131 6)50 4114
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