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The Music of Scotland (2-day version)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

A beginner's guide to the extraordinary range of music in Scotland, this course will explore and identify the key characteristics of the Scottish musical tradition: from the earliest medieval manuscripts to contemporary pop. This course offers a friendly and fun introduction to the major genres of Scottish music and their exponents, including Gaelic ceòl mòr, the fiddling tradition, and classical music from the Inchcolm Fragment to James MacMillan. We'll also look at the how Scotland continues to blaze a trail in the comtemporary pop and jazz scene. We shall listen to excerpts and also consider Scotland's key position in the Northern European musical tradition by casting a glance at our Nordic neighbours. 

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Content of Course

Day 1

1. The Medieval beginnings: the earliest recorded music in Scotland.

2. The Great Music: ceòl mòr and the Gaelic tradition.

3. The C18th: the Fiddling tradition in the Lowlands, Highlands and Islands, its place in Art Music, and Robert Burns in music

Day 2

1. The C19th: Scotland and National Romanticism: Hamish MacCunn, William Wallace, Learmont Drysdale.

2. Scotland the Modern: the C20th and C21st: the classical avant garde to The White Heather Club to Young Fathers.

Teaching method(s)

Teaching will be interactive and discussion encouraged.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Identify key genres and principal figures of Scottish music;

  • Contextualise Scotland in the Northern European musical tradition.


Core Readings

Reference books:

  • Purser, John. 1992. Scotland’s Music. London: Mainstream Publishing.

Suggested listening:

  • The Rough Guide to Scottish Music, CD/download The Rough Guide to Scottish Folk, CD/download Scottish Tradition Series, Greentrax Recordings, Nicola Benedetti, Homecoming – A Scottish Fantasy, Decca Edinburgh 1742, Ensemble Marsyas, Linn

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.