WORK IN PROGRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Most of the surviving Scottish lute music comes from the 17th century, between the loss of the Royal court in 1603 and the loss of national independence in 1707. These losses came at a time when people starting notating the traditional and popular airs in private manuscripts for lute, cittern, guitar, and eventually fiddle. As the lute had already been in Scotland for a few hundred years before this period, it should come as no surprise that Scots had found a way to express their own voice on these instruments.

Here we have the roots of the roots of Scottish music, with the first notated settings of such classic tunes as, Flowers of the Forest, Old Lang Syne, the Gaberlunzie Man, and many, many others. In total there are around 500 surviving pieces. Here is a brief overview of the principal manuscripts:

Rowallan (1612 – 1628) – Despite being referred to as the lute manuscript of Sir William Mure of Rowallan, the cover bears the inscription, ‘my lade bekluch her book’, and might therefore more rightfully be named the Beccleuch ms. However, it is not known when the inscription was added. The manuscript provides evidence of the change from the court-influenced continental-style practice of the previous decade to the recording of the native song tradition. One piece, Before the Greeks Durst Enterprise, is directly connected with the court of James VI – the song has lyrics composed by Sir William Mure’s great-uncle, Alexander Montgomerie. Highlights of the manuscript include the enigmatic Gypsies Lilt and an early ‘double tonic’ dance, Corne Yairds. Up to 9 courses in Renaissance tuning. Modern edition by Lyre Music.

Straloch (c.1627 -1629) – The original ms is lost, but thanks to George Farquhar Graham, we have an 1839 copy. Robert Gordon of Straloch (1580 – 1661) was one of the principal cartographers of Scotland, contributing important maps to Blaeu’s Atlas. Highlights include five ‘Ports’, which seem to mix Scottish melodies with features of the old tuning preludes. 10 course lute, Renaissance tuning. Modern edition by Lyre Music.

Skene (c.1630) – A manuscript for the small mandore – a treble lute of 5 courses. Contains many beautiful airs, including Flowers Of The Forest. 5c mandore. Online transcription and commentary.

Wemyss (1643 – 1648) – Compiled by Lady Margaret Wemyss (1630 – 1648), of Wemyss Castle in Fife. Inscription: ‘begunne june 5 1643′, when Margaret was twelve years old. A mixture of French and Scottish pieces, many in Harp Sharp or Harp Flat tunings, typical of the transitional period between the 10- and 11-course lute. Contains many beautiful airs, such as My Lady Binnis Lilt. 10c and 12c lutes in various tunings.

Balcarres (c.1695 – 1702) – the most ‘professional’ of all the Scottish lute manuscripts, with over 250 pieces, many with variations. Contains a magnificent setting of For Old Lang Syne. 11c lute in various tunings. 2-volume facsimile and transcription edition.

More about the performer, Rob MacKillop HERE.

WORK IN PROGRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!