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

Postgraduate Course: Scots and Gaelic Song - Topics and Issues (SCET11024)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course looks at the Scots and Gaelic song traditions from a 'topics and issues' perspective. It will be research-based, having class discussion and the interests of the students at its heart. Students will be expected to complete reading in preparation for each class (with the exception of week 1). Recordings from the School of Scottish Studies Archives will be emphasised throughout and will complement discussion topics. Both historical and contemporary aspects of the traditions will be examined. Concepts to be covered include song and community, transmission, repertoire, change and stability, style and musical transcription.
Course description Topics to be discussed include collections and manuscript material, repertoire and transmission, the links between song and instrumental music, and the connections between the Scots and Gaelic song traditions. Case-studies of individual singers will be presented.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. identify and critically assess a range of current and past scholarship on Scots and Gaelic song;
  2. articulate how different songs and song genres have developed in response to group and individual needs;
  3. engage critically with case-studies of songs relevant to each of the semester's themes;
  4. demonstrate competence in transferable skills, e.g. close engagement with texts, critical evaluation of source material, independent reading, coherent and clearly structured writing, oral presentation, group discussion and time management.
Reading List
Scots Song
F. G. Andersen, Commonplace and Creativity: the Role of Formulaic Diction in Anglo-Scottish Traditional Balladry (Odense, 1985).
Beech, John et al. (eds) Scottish Life and Society: Oral Literature and Performance Culture (A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology, vol. 10). Edinburgh: John Donald in association with the European Ethnological Research Centre. See in particular the following chapters: Ian A. Olson, 'Bothy Ballads and Song'; John Morris, 'Chapbooks and Broadsides'; Owen F. Hand, 'The Folk Song Revival in Scotland'; Katherine Campbell, 'Collectors of Scots Song'; James Porter, 'Scottish Song Traditions Abroad'.
B.H. Bronson, The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, 4 vols (Princeton, New Jersey, 1959-72).
D. Buchan, The Ballad and the Folk (East Linton, 1997).
N. Buchan and P. Hall (eds), The Scottish Folksinger (Glasgow, 1986).
F. J. Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 5 vols (Boston, 1882-98); see also for some of the texts from Child¿s collection.
W. Christie, Traditional Ballad Airs, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1876-1881). Available online:
E. J. Cowan, The Ballad in Scottish History (East Linton, 2000).
E. J. Cowan (ed.), The People¿s Past (Edinburgh, 1980).
T. Crawford (ed.), Love, Labour and Liberty (Cheadle, 1976).
T. Crawford, Society and the Lyric: A Study of the Song Culture of Eighteenth Century Scotland (Edinburgh, 1979).
S. Douglas, The Sang's the Thing: Voices from Lowland Scotland (Edinburgh, 1992).
H. Henderson, Alias MacAlias: Writings on Songs, Folk and Literature (Edinburgh, 1992).
H. Henderson and A. Munro, The Muckle Sangs (Scottish Tradition booklet, Greentrax, 1992).
J. Johnson and R. Burns, The Scots Musical Museum 1787-1803, 2 vols (Aldershot, 1991).
J. Kinsley (ed.), The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns (Oxford, 1968).
D. Low (ed.), The Songs of Robert Burns (London, 1993).
E. Lyle (ed.), Scottish Ballads (Edinburgh, 1994).
E. Lyle (ed.), Andrew Crawfurd's Collection of Ballads and Songs, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1975-1996).
E. Lyle, K. McAlpine and A. D. McLucas (eds), The Song Repertoire of Amelia and Jane Harris (Edinburgh, 2002).
E. Lyle, Fairies and Folk: Approaches to the Scottish Ballad Tradition (BASE, vol. 1). Trier: WVT.
A. Munro (with Morag MacLeod), The Democratic Muse: Folk Music Revival in Scotland (Aberdeen, 1996).
S. Newman, Ballad Collection, Lyric, and the Canon (Philadelphia, 2007).
J. Porter and H. Gower, Jeannie Robertson: Emergent Singer, Transformative Voice (East Linton, 1995).
I. Russell and D. Atkinson, Folk Song: Tradition, Revival and Re-Creation (Aberdeen, 2004).
P. Shuldham-Shaw and E. Lyle (eds), The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, 8 vols (Aberdeen and Edinburgh, 1981-2002).
D. K. Wilgus, Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship Since 1898 (New Brunswick, 1959).

Gaelic Song
Beech, John et al. (eds) Scottish Life and Society: Oral Literature and Performance Culture (A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology, vol. 10). Edinburgh: John Donald in association with the European Ethnological Research Centre. See in particular the following chapters: Donald Meek, 'Gaelic Verse of the Township: Clearance and Land Agitation, Emigration and Evangelical Revival'; John MacInnes, 'Òrain Luaidh and Other Work Songs'; Morag MacLeod, 'Collectors of Gaelic Song'.
Black, Ronald An Tuil: Anthology of 20th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse. Edinburgh: Polygon, 1999.
Callan, Maighread A. Air Bilean an t-Sluaigh: Sealladh air Leantalachd Beul-Aithris Ghàidhlig Uibhist a Tuath. Belfast: Cló Ollscoil na Banríona, 2012.
Campbell, John Lorne and Francis Collinson Hebridean Folksongs, vols 1-3. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969-81.
Gillies, Anne Lorne Songs of Gaelic Scotland. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2005.
Lamb, William (ed.) Keith Norman MacDonald¿s Puirt-à-Beul. Skye: Taigh na Teud, 2012.
MacDonell, Margaret The Emigrant Experience: Songs of Highland Emigrants in North America. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982.
McKean, Thomas A. Hebridean Song-maker: Iain MacNeacail of the Isle of Skye. Edinburgh: Polygon, 1997.
Meek, Donald E. (ed.) Caran an t-Saoghail - The Wiles of the World: Anthology of 19th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2003.
Meek, Donald E. (ed.) Tuath is Tighearna: Tenants and Landlords; an Anthology of Gaelic Poetry of Social and Political Protest from the Clearances to the Land Agitation (1800-1890). Edinburgh : Published by Scottish Academic Press for the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society, 1995.
Munro, Ailie The Democratic Muse: Folk Music Revival in Scotland (see chapter on the Folk Revival in Gaelic song, by Morag MacLeod). Aberdeen: Scottish Cultural Press, 1996 (2nd edition).
Newton, Michael (ed.) Dùthchas nan Gàidheal: Selected Essays of John MacInnes. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2006.
School of Scottish Studies Archives. A Collection of Scottish Gaelic Songs: Chosen and Transcribed from the Archives of the School of Scottish Studies. Edinburgh: School of Scottish Studies, 1972.
Shaw, Margaret Fay Folksongs and Folklore of South Uist (2nd edn). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.
Tolmie, Frances One Hundred and Five Songs of Occupation from the Western Isles of Scotland. Ceredigion: Llanerch Publishers, 1997.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will be expected to develop critical skills in the evaluation of research on traditional song.
Course organiserDr Katherine Campbell
Tel: (0131 6)50 3057
Course secretaryMr Alan Binnie
Tel: (0131 6)51 1822
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