The Good Spirits Co award for innovation in New Traditional Music

The Good Spiris Company

Traditional Music plays an important role in Scotland’s musical scene. This award, in partnership with Hands Up for Trad, celebrates the musicians who use elements of both traditional and new music (as defined at the start) in an original and experimental way.

365 - Aidan O'Rourke and Kit Downes

Scottish author James Robertson wrote a short story each day for a year in 2014, each story containing exactly 365 words. At first it was just a personal project, a daily routine to test his own self-discipline and rigour, but it grew into a collection of sharp and finely observed vignettes. Intrigued by the ritual and inspired by the potent atmosphere of the writing, Aidan O’Rourke – one of Scotland’s leading traditional musicians – decided to follow suit. He composed a tune every day for a year, each tune a response to one of Robertson’s stories.

The result is sparse and emotive exploration of contemporary folk music, deeply rooted in the Scottish tradition and spun with off-kilter lyricism: it taps into the atmosphere of the stories and lets the message linger. Pianist/harmonium player Kit Downes, a heavyweight of the European jazz scene, adds bold and kaleidoscopic harmonies.

This work, 935 mins in total, is now recorded and each of the 365 pieces (and the spoken word recordings of the related stories read by James Robertson) is released each day through 2020 at https://three-six-five.net/Stories-And-Music. You can experience the complete work via a bespoke sound installation currently in the Royal Concert Hall foyer in Glasgow.

The Reeling - Brighde Chaimbeul

Brìghde has devised a completely new way of arranging for pipe music that emphasises the rich textural drones of the Scottish smallpipes; the constancy of sound that creates a trance-like quality in the tunes. The recording process allowed for every integral breath, click and creak of the instrument and its surroundings to become part of that sound. The result is an album that’s uniquely beautiful, exhilarating and strange.

Some of these tunes Brìghde has known since she was a child while others, previously unrecorded were sourced from collections of old manuscripts and archive recordings. Brìghde was inspired by the deep-rooted connection between piping, Gaelic song and canntaireachd, and the global connections of piping and the folk who sing and play to tell stories.

 

 Brìghde Chaimbeul - Scottish small pipes and harmonium.

Aidan O’Rourke (Lau) - fiddle and production. 

Radie Peat (Lankum) - concertina.

Rona Lightfoot - canntaireachd and Gaelic song

 

The album was recorded live by Iain Hutchison in the historic East Church in Cromarty, on the Black Isle. It was released on January 18 2019 by River Lea / Rough Trade and was partly funded by Creative Scotland.

Face To Face - Twelfth Day

Though Twelfth Day wear their rich and varied experience with pride – their folk roots, their classical training – they are more than a simple product, an exponent, of their practice. It is their inherent curiosity, their need to understand through experimentation, that compels them to reach for new ways and means.

Combining their technical proficiency and deep knowledge of their instruments with their desire to make soulful, meaningful and intuitive new music, Twelfth Day’s latest album Face to Face breaks new ground. Through the lens of their shared upbringing in both the folk and new music worlds, Catriona and Esther explore a wealth of urgent current issues, such as gender roles, power balance and the challenges of working in the arts as a young woman; the threat of climate change; and the struggles of mental health.

Twelfth Day’s multi-layered influences make Face to Face truly original. There’s the radio-friendly catchiness and self-proclaimed respect for Beyoncé; there’s the swagger and surprise of jazz and funk; there’s the precision and technique of classical. The only label to truly hit the high note is ‘contemporary’: Face to Face could only be made now, and only by Twelfth Day.



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