A fascinating look at Gaelic musical traditions in Scotland and their origins. I think several scholars in Ireland have already established the hybrid nature of Irish music and dance (the latter in particular) so one would expect the Scottish forms to be very similar.
By the 16th century Lowland texts reflect the notion that the Highlands were a repository of older Scottish customs and traditions, and Macpherson’s Ossian (1760) only popularized and reinforced this idea. Music and song collectors of the 18th and 19th centuries, responding to the perceived crisis of Scottish identity and tradition in an assimilationist and anglocentric polity, looked to recover the remnants of Auld Scotia amongst the peasantry, not least that of the Highlands. It has become conventional to interpret Highland music and dance traditions as essentially conservative and preserving indigenous elements specific to the Gaelic community, often reflective of older Scottish practices.
Yet, against this convention of Highland conservatism, I have emphasized in recent publications that there is also much evidence that Highland music and dance tradition incorporated many innovative, incoming elements in the 17th and 18th centuries and that what is now considered “ancient Highland tradition” is actually…
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