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Fiddlers' Burns is a selection of tunes associated with Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, and arranged for the fiddle by Scottish fiddler and composer Eric Allan.

The poet devoted much of his latter years to studying, collecting, arranging and writing songs. He studied everything that had been published, travelled throughout the country, meeting with players, composers and singers, and became a leading expert on the subject. He met with Niel Gow and William Marshall, two of Scotland's greatest composers, and used their tunes for his songs.

Like one of his most famous characters, Tam o'Shanter, Burns' preference was for his own native music:

Nae cotillion brent new frae France
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys and reels
Put life and mettle in their heels.

He would often take an old song and perpetuate it by remodelling the words. His musical ear enabled him to match the words to the music.

The book contains 40 tunes - airs, reels, jigs, strathspeys etc - all associated with Burns songs. There are introductory notes to each group of tunes, making it a useful collection for use at Burns suppers and other performances. Well known pieces like Green grow the rashes and My love she's but a lassie yet are there, but so also are two beautiful Gaelic airs from the Knockie Collection and the poet's own preferred tunes for My luve is like a red red rose and Auld lang syne.

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The Loch Ness Collection of new Scottish dance tunes and airs is a compilation of over 150 tunes composed by veteran Inverness fiddler Eric Allan.

Eric happily acknowledges the effect of many years of listening to Gaelic song, bagpipe tunes and the music of other fiddlers, and his readiness to be affected by music wherever he has travelled, including Scandinavia, Shetland and Cape Breton.

The book has 58 pages, with the tunes arranged according to type - strathspeys & reels, jigs, marches, waltzes etc. The cover has a fine colour photo of Urquhart Castle, and each section has a different view of Loch Ness. The last page even has two tunes dedicated to the loch's most famous resident, with photo to match!

Included is the signature tune commissioned for Grampian TV's successful Ceol na Fidhle series, and other tunes have been recorded by various artistes and are heard from time to time on BBC Radio Scotland's dance music programme Take the Floor.

There are chords throughout, making the book suitable for accordion, piano and most other instruments. There are also some harmony parts.

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The Drumossie Collection is Eric Allanís second book of 150 compositions, mainly in the Scottish tradition, but also including some songs (with words by Robert Davidson), piano pieces, "jazzy bits" and his Ness River Suite, commissioned by Highland Council in celebration of Invernessís new city status.

Many of the tunes were commissioned under a scheme to raise money for the Friends of Highland Music, a charitable body encouraging young people in traditional music. It has 54 pages, chords and some harmony parts.

 

 

 

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Together is a book of easy arrangements of tunes in traditional style, with two and three part harmonies and chords, making it suitable for any combination of instruments.

It grew out of a realisation of the fun to be had at house parties when a few players can sit down to make music together in an undemanding but harmonious way. Compiler Eric Allan has taken 19 tunes and given them a sympathetic treatment.

The tunes include traditional airs, two classic strathspeys from Nathaniel Gow and compositions by Eric and fellow-fiddler Simon Gunn. Both Eric and Simon are fond of Scandinavian music, and the influence shows in some of the pieces. Simon also drew the cover picture.

The book is ideal for use with school groups, or, as the cover says, for sheer enjoyment!

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Fiddle Music from Fife is a reprint of the Collections of two outstanding 18th century fiddler-composers from Fife.

Alexander Leburn (1767-1836) was born and died in the Royal Burgh of Auchtermuchty. He was a magistrate of the burgh, and, according to his obituary, "a self taught philosopher of no mean order" with "considerable proficiency in mathematics, chemistry, astronomy and general science"

James Walker (1760-1840) from the Royal Burgh of Dysart, on the other hand, was a full-time musician and teacher, much in demand for grand balls and dancing parties, but also accustomed on those occasions to giving the servants a session of music "below stairs"

The music is reprinted with its original bass lines, and includes airs, jigs, strathspeys, reels etc. The tune titles show that both composers enjoyed the patronage of the local gentry.

The book, in paperback, has 54 pages with 117 tunes.

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Echoes of a Golden Age

This new book by Charlie Gore, one of the best-known and respected personalities of the Scottish fiddle scene, contains a wealth of information, opinion and music, and is essential reading for all with an interest in our national music. Compiler of the monumental Scottish Fiddle Music Index, the author is also a player, composer, adjudicator, lecturer and contributor of articles.

Part 1 of the book is an extended essay, generously illustrated, on: Tradition: where does it come from? Where is it going? - tracing the history of Scottish fiddle music and commenting on its present state. Part 2 is an informative listing of Composers, Collectors, Publishers etc and Part 3 consists of 18 pages of music from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries.

Thanks to the authorís research, enthusiasm and humour, itís a good read, a useful source and a fine collection of music. The foreword is by Scottish fiddle maestro Douglas Lawrence.

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Balnain House

Restoration and Inspiration

An illustrated account by Highland writer James Miller of the history of a 1726 Georgian mansion in Inverness, its restoration and its brief but influential role as the Home of Highland Music.

A4 paperback, 81pp

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