Scottish traditional music has always been a in a state of change involving phases and currents of decline, revival and renewal. In terms of fiddle playing, for instance, the contribution of James Scott Skinner (1843-1927) involved elements of modernisation and inventive creation combined with the preservation and promotion of old repertory in what was a clear attempt to revive the genre. A strong element of the current fiddle scene is also the production and consumption of music that strives to be rooted in tradition yet also of its own time.
This project is concerned with one relatively short period in the three hundred years or so of Scottish fiddle music. The renewed interest in the song tradition of the 1950s, 60s and 70s is now relatively well documented and discussed but the contemporaneous revival of instrumental music in Scotland which accompanied it has received less scholarly attention. This period saw absorption of influences from modern music fashions, styles from other cultures, experimentation, hybridisation and invention as young players sought, discovered and adapted aspects of the tradition in a modern music which allowed them to express both their national and their youthful identities. The fiddle, an instrument laden with symbolic and historical associations in literature and folklore in Scotland and elsewhere, was ripe for a central role in this process. This was further enabled by the facts that instruments were readily available and many young people had received at least some training or experience in strings playing.
By the mid 1980s, the fiddle revival had entered a new, more settled phase with the establishment of summer camps, festivals, clubs, competitions, printed publications and the first steps towards the incorporation of traditional music into schools. It was this emerging infrastructure which became the bedrock of the current wave of interest in fiddle music throughout Scotland. Several of the players from the first, less ordered period have since passed away, some still play publicly while others have moved on from music making or continue to play only in domestic settings. This project recognises that the time is right to collect testimony, information and surviving material associated with their contribution to the fiddle revival before it becomes hidden or lost as a means of enriching our understanding of the traditional music of Scotland as it continues to develop.
It is intended that this page will be substituted by a more extensive, illustrated discussion of the fiddle revival in Scotland once the research mapping is sufficiently advanced to allow conclusions to be suggested.