Spellweaving: ancient music from the Highlands of Scotland [EMAP Vol 1]

Barnaby Brown (pipes & vocals)
Clare Salaman (fiddles & hurdy-gurdy)
Bill Taylor (lyres & harp)

Preview available. Click track number to listen

The patronage of elite Highland pipers collapsed after the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. Worried that the classical music of the Gaels would fade away, the English-speaking gentry offered prize money for scientific notations. By 1797, Colin Campbell had written 377 pages in a unique notation based on the vocables of Hebridean ‘mouth music’, but – unintelligible to the judges in Edinburgh – Campbell’s extraordinary work of preservation has remained overlooked or misunderstood until now. Barnaby Brown’s realisations bring the musical craftsmanship of a remote culture vividly to life, giving a voice back to some of Europe’s most illustrious ancient instruments and refocusing attention on a type of music whose trance-inducing long spans and elaborate formal patterning echo the knots and spells of Celtic culture.

The EMAP series is produced in association with the University of Huddersfield.

‘[Brown] and his colleagues deliver beguiling performances using an instrumentarium of bagpipes, vulture-bone flute, clarsach (folk harp) et al, as well as his pleasantly light-toned voice.’
— Sunday Times, May 2016

‘Bill Taylor gives gentle if learned accounts on clàrsach and lyre and Brown takes a spacious solo on a vulture bone flute, but the highlight is Clare Salaman doing bold and sensitive things on Hardanger fiddle with a majestic 15-minute account of The Sutherlands’ Gathering.’
— The Guardian, June 2016

‘Pibroch is a paradox: fierce austerity coupled with enough intricate embellishments for a rococo church.’
— The Wire, September 2016

  • Recording venue(s): Phipps Hall, University of Huddersfield
  • Recording dates: 8-10 June 2015
  • Physical format: Jewel case
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Number of tracks: 8
  • Total playing time: 1:14:37

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