Scottish musical history 2013 Strathclyde University lecture 3


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Literary influences on 18th Century Scottish music history, and how both inform our view of Enlightenment cultural history.

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Scottish musical history 2013 Strathclyde University lecture 3

  1. 1. C18TH SCOTTISHMUSIC Karen McAulay
  2. 2. The story so far• Last lecture we looked at some historic Scottish sources and key names.• Do these ring any bells:-• Skene …………………….. For what instrument?• Forbes was a …………………… of what?• Panmure was actually …………………………….• Tea-Table ……………….?• …………….. Oswald wrote …………..?• Oswald contemporary with ……………?
  3. 3. (Late)18th Century Scottish Music• Political upheaval, cultural fallout• Major events in Scotland? (Can you remember?)
  4. 4. 4 Overview• How people in Scotland viewed their own national music in the C18th• (To a lesser extent) how it was viewed in England.• And what was happening in Ireland and Wales?
  5. 5. C18th (and early C19th) Scottishsong: influences Travel Political History Ossian Popularity Scottish outwith Song Scotland Enlightenment Primitivism & Antiquarianism 5
  6. 6. 61. Political History •1707 - Act of Union •1715 & 1745 Uprisings
  7. 7. 72. Popularity: cultural identity •Popularity both sides of the Border •Songs and Airs (and „improving‟ texts) •Scottish style, e.g. Thomas Shaw‟s Arioso (Violin concerto)
  8. 8. 83. Enlightenment Intellectual curiosity and atmosphere of sociable debate. Societies and clubs, Eg Edinburgh Musical Society, & Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  9. 9. 94. Primitivism &c Enlightenment idea of „conjectural history‟
  10. 10. 105. Literature: Remember Ossian? Bards, minstrels & bygone days
  11. 11. 11 Macpherson – important context for what followed• Ossian phenomenon (literary parallel)• James Macpherson (1736-96)• Fragments of Ancient Poetry (1760)• Fingal (1761)• Temora (1763)• The Works of Ossian (1765)• See Blind Ossian’s Fingal for more info.
  12. 12. 6. Travel Many travellers:- Political Travel • Macpherson History • RememberPopularity Ossian Johnson/ ScottishoutwithScotland Song Boswell? • Explorers Enlightenment Primitivism & Antiquarianism • Curious tourists • Now meet the Macdonalds! 12
  13. 13. Patrick and Joseph McDonald• Patrick McDonald (1729-1824)• Joseph McDonald (1739-1762)• 1760 was a big year for Joseph McDonald (and James McPherson) …• Prior to that …• After that …• Patrick‟s (and Joseph‟s posthumous) publication, Highland Vocal Airs (1784)• Joseph‟s other posthumous publication, Compleat Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe (1803, 1927, 1971, 1994)
  14. 14. Highland Vocal Airs (1784)• A Collection of Highland vocal airs never hitherto published, to which are added a few of the most lively country dances or reels of the North Highlands & Western Isles, and some specimens of bagpipe music.• ALSO written contributions from:-• Rev Walter Young of Erskine (preface & harmonisations)• John Ramsay of Auchtertyre (Dissertation upon Highland Poetry and Music)• What‟s significant about this book?• No words – just tunes, some with basses, some without.• Commentary• Efforts at authenticity• Patrick McD‟s and Young‟s efforts to regularise melodies.
  15. 15. Authenticity and Preservation• Comments in preface and dissertation of McDonald‟s collection• „ … to preserve the monuments of antiquity‟ [preface]• „… probably … the most genuine remains of the ancient harp-music of the Highlands‟ [preface]• Ramsay suggested in his Dissertation, that in another 20 years the repertoire would have vanished.Accompaniments
  16. 16. Tytler‟s Dissertation• William Tytler (1711-1792)• Six years before McD‟s collection, William Tytler wrote a Dissertation on the Scottish Music (1779, anon, and in several later publications)• His observations influential on subsequent compilers of song collections.• Don‟t know if Patrick McD had read Tytler. Quite possibly.
  17. 17. Scottish literature & song,according to Tytler• Have a quick look at the way William Tytler began his Dissertation on Scottish Music, in 1783: “The genius of the Scots has, in every age, shone conspicuous in Poetry and Music. Of the first, the Poems of Ossian, composed in an age of rude antiquity, are sufficient proof. The peevish doubt entertained by some of their authenticity, appears to be the utmost refinement of scepticism. As genuine remains of Celtic Poetry, the Poems of Ossian will continue to be admired as long as there shall remain a taste for the sublime and beautiful.
  18. 18. Tytler contd…• “The Scottish Music does no less honour to the genius of the country. The old Scottish songs have always been admired for the wild pathetic sweetness which distinguishes them from the music of every other country…”• “wild” is a term often used regarding Highland melodies. Quite often denotes a wide-ranging, somewhat unpredictable melody.
  19. 19. 19Tytler‟s advice about accompaniments• “The proper accompaniment of a Scottish song is a plain, thin, dropping bass, on the harpsichord or guitar. The fine breathings, those heart felt touches which genius alone can express, in our songs, are lost in a noisy accompaniment of instruments.• “The full cords [sic] of a thorough bass should be used sparingly and with judgment, not to overpower, but to support and strengthen the voice at proper pauses.”
  20. 20. 20 Tytler, contd.• “Where, with a fine voice, is joined some skill and execution on either of those instruments, the air, by way of symphony, or introduction to the song, should always be first played over;• “and, at the close of every stanza, the last part of the air should be repeated … the performer may shew his taste and fancy on the instrument, by varying it ad libitum.”
  21. 21. 2 more important compilers of collections• Two more compilers of song collections quoted Tytler, though they didn‟t follow his instructions to the letter:-• Robert Burns(1759-96); and• Northern Englishman, Joseph Ritson (1752-1803)1. Burns effectively became editor after Vol.1 of James Johnson‟s, The Scots Musical Museum … Consisting of six hundred Scots Songs with proper Basses for the Pianoforte &c (1787-1803), 6 volumes.2. Burns also worked with George Thomson on a very different collection of Scottish songs.3. Ritson, Scotish Songs (1794), 2 vols.
  22. 22. 22Scots Musical Museum (1787-1803)• James Johnson• Aim – a national museum of songs• Robert Burns• Major contributor as regards texts• Not musically ignorant• Sentimental feeling for origins – Ossian appreciated as literature, not as source.
  23. 23. Scots Musical Museum – 2 images
  24. 24. Burns‟s own copy of SMM
  25. 25. 25Burns‟s other project• Burns also collaborated with George Thomson on another major collection of Scottish songs - A select collection of original Scotish airs for the voice• Very different starting point.• Very different results.
  26. 26. Ritson – Scotish Songs
  27. 27. Ritson – unaccompanied melodies
  28. 28. Vive la Revolution! (1789-99)• Joseph Ritson declared himself a revolutionary, too! (Visited Paris, 1791)• Archetypal antiquarian• Personality  and • Influential• French Revolution unsettling to other parts of Europe - in Ireland, a society was formed called the United Irishmen - influenced by events in the French Revolution, they had a rebellion in 1798. Literary movement.• (Later – Thomas Moore, 1779-1852)
  29. 29. Wales – also resented English „conquest‟• But distance lent enchantment – English rule had been instituted so many centuries ago that by now more nostalgia than rebellion.• Thomas Gray - poem, The Bard - arguably the original inspiration for the whole minstrelsy genre!• Jones, Edward, Musical and poetical relicks of the Welsh bards (1794)• Jones, Edward, Bardic Museum (1802)• Not just literature and music – also painting, eg…
  30. 30. John Martin,The Bard (1820‟s)
  31. 31. But let‟s leave the C19th for nexttime. Here‟s a summary of C18th… Travel Political History Ossian Popularity Scottish outwith Song Scotland Enlightenment Primitivism & Antiquarianism 31
  32. 32. Lecture 3 References• James Macpherson, Blind Ossians Fingal : fragments and controversy (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2010) Main Library 6 Week Loan (D 824.6-9 MACP )• [Patrick McDonald, Highland Vocal Airs (1794)]• [Joseph MacDonald, A Complete Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe (c.1760/ 1803)]• James Johnson, Scots Musical Museum Main Library (various locations)• [George Thomson, A Select Collection of Original Scotish Airs (1793) / … Scottish Airs (1801-1841)]• William Tytler, Dissertation on the Scottish Music (1779 &c)• Joseph Ritson, Scotish Songs (1794)