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

Undergraduate Course: Traditional Music (SCET10034)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThrough a series of thematic case studies, this course explores traditional music in Scotland from early times to current day. One piece of required reading and listening will accompany each seminar and a study trip will usually take place as part of the course. Field recordings from the School of Scottish Studies Archives will be complemented by commercial recordings from contemporary musicians.

There will be opportunities to play and experience examples of traditional music repertoire and participants are expected to participate and encourage each other as part of this process.
Course description Traditional Music provides a platform to understand traditional music repertoire and practice more fully, to contextualise traditional music through listening and/or playing, analysis, critical evaluation of leading scholarship and discussion. The discipline of ethnomusicology, which seeks to understand music in its social and cultural contexts and from the perspectives of those who make it, will be emphasised throughout the course. This is supported by the introduction and development of key skills of fieldwork and descriptive analysis.

In this course, Traditional Music is viewed through a Scottish lens and international examples and connections feature throughout. Seminar topics, themes and case studies will respond to the interests of course participants and can include: Scotland's 'National' Instruments, 'Broken' Tradition: Scottish harp, Niel Gow and Eighteenth-century Dance Music, Composers and Collections, Twentieth Century Revival: Search for authenticity, Tradition and Community, Electronic Tradition, Advances in Harmony, Contemporary Practice: Seeking genre parity.

In addition to essay and presentation, class tasks provide the opportunity to engage with archive materials, historically-informed performance, creative/contemporary performance and a range of traditional music notation. Weekly reading and listening will be provided to complement seminar topics.

Study visits to museums, libraries, or performances of traditional music may be arranged as appropriate (in some cases there can be a ticket cost of approximately £10-15). Music notation skills (reading or writing) are not required, but music notation will be introduced and explored in seminars.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None, except when the study visit is a concert rather than a museum/library, in which case the ticket cost will be met by students.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students MUST have a background within the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
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 familiarity with case-studies of traditional music
  2. Demonstrate a solid understanding of major composers and collections
  3. Critically assess issues connected to traditional music e.g. orality and literacy, transmission, patronage, authenticity, change and stability, revival, community, identity, innovation, parity, commercialism, creativity, collaboration
  4. Show competence in transferable skills, e.g. critical evaluation of source material, independent reading, coherent and clearly structured writing, oral presentation, group discussion, time management.
Reading List

M.A. Alburger, Scottish Fiddlers and their Music (Gollancz, 1983/Hardie Press, 1996).

P. Bohlman, The Study of Folk Music in the Modern World (Indiana University Press, 1988).

F. Collinson, The Traditional and National Music of Scotland. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966/1970).

J. Dickson, ed., The Highland Bagpipe: Music, History, Tradition (Ashgate, 2009).

R. Finnegan, The Hidden Musicians: Music-Making in an English Town (Cambridge University Press, 1986).

J. Ling, A History of European Folk Music (University of Rochester Press, 1997).

N. MacKinnon, The British Folk Scene: Musical Performance and Social Identity (Open University Press, 1994).

S. McKerrell, ed., Focus: Scottish Traditional Music (Routledge, 2015).

A. Munro, The Democratic Muse: Folk Music Revival in Scotland (Scottish Cultural Press, 1996).

J. Purser, Scotland's Music (Mainstream, 1992).

K. Sanger and A. Kinnaird, Tree of Strings: A History of the Harp in Scotland (Kinmor Music, 1992).

M. Stokes and P. Bohlman, ed.s, Celtic Modern: Music at the Global Fringe (Scarecrow Press, 2003).


M. A. Alburger and I. Russell, ed.s, Play it Like it Is (University of Aberdeen, 2006).

G. Barz and T. Cooley, ed.s, Shadows in the Field: New Perspectives for Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology (Oxford University Press, 1997).

J. Blacking, How Musical is Man? (University of Washington Press, 1973).

J. Beech, et al., ed.s, 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, 2007) [See Part Two: Song and Music]

K. Campbell, The Fiddle in Scottish Culture (John Donald, 2007).

R. Cannon, The Highland Bagpipe and its Music (John Donald, 1988).

H. Cheape, Bagpipes: A National Collection of a National Instrument (National Museums Scotland, 2008).

P. Cooke, The Fiddle Tradition of the Shetland Isles (Cambridge University Press, 1986).

J. Dickson, When Piping Was Strong (John Donald, 2006).

C. Gore, The Scottish Fiddle Music Index (Amaising, 1994).

D. Johnson, Music and Society in Lowland Scotland in the Eighteenth Century (OUP, 1972).

D. Johnson, Scottish Fiddle Music in the Eighteenth Century (Mercat Press, 1997).

G. W. Lockhart, Fiddles and Folk (Luath, 1998).

S. MacNeill and F. Richardson, Piobaireachd and its Interpretation (John Donald, 1987).

A. Merriam, The Anthropology of Music. (Northwestern University Press, 1964).

B. Nettl, The Study of Ethnomusicology: Thirty-One Issues and Concepts. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2005).

B. Nettl, Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents (Prentice-Hall, 1965/1973).

M. Stokes, ed., Ethnicity, Identity and Music: The Musical Construction of Place (Berg, 1994).


H. Myers, ed., Ethnomusicology: An Introduction (Norton, 1992).

H. Myers, ed., Ethnomusicology. 2 vols (Macmillan Press, 1992-93).

J. C. Post, Ethnomusicology: A Guide to Research (Routledge, 2003).

K. Shelemay, Soundscapes: Exploring Music in a Changing World (W.W. Norton, 2006).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Problem solving
- Critical and analytical thinking
- Digital literacy
- Ethics and social responsibility
- Self-awareness and reflection
- Independent learning and development
- Decision making
- Interpersonal skills
- Verbal communication and presentation
- Written communications
- Planning, organising and time management
- Assertiveness and confidence

Graduates will be able to:
- plan, prioritise, and effectively use resources to achieve goals
- analyse facts and situations and apply creative thinking to develop the appropriate solutions
- identify, evaluate and create options in order to solve complex problems in critical work
- analyse, synthesise, critically and methodically appraise ideas and information, recent scholarship and practice to break down complex problems into manageable components
- capability to evaluate information thoroughly; identifying assumptions, detecting false logic or reasoning and defining terms accurately in order to make an informed judgement
- use and maintain IT and ICT skills, including familiarity with word processing, presentation software, digital archives, and use of internet search engines
- learn how to deal with setbacks and failures and learn and develop from these
- seek and value open feedback to help self-awareness
- be effective communicators who are able to read and write, present, listen, influence and network
- produce clear, structured written work
- develop oral communication of complex ideas and arguments using a range of media
- be able to communicate complex ideas and arguments in writing using a range of media from formal writing to social media
- develop and use emotional intelligence and empathy
- effectively adapt emotions, thoughts and behaviour to environments that may be unfamiliar, uncertain and/or diverse
Special Arrangements Jointly taught with postgraduate students.
KeywordsTraditional,music,folk,oral tradition,Scotland,fiddle,harp,pipes,revival,context,historic
Course organiserDr Lori Watson
Tel: (0131 6)50 8415
Course secretaryMrs Vivien MacNish Porter
Tel: (0131 6)50 3528
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