Newly discovered tunes by local fiddlers' favourite to be revealed in new volume

Newly discovered tunes by local fiddlers' favourite to be revealed in new volume

Four previously unpublished tunes written by popular Aberdeenshire musician James Scott Skinner, will feature in a new book soon to be launched as part of the Silver City Stories festival.

The handwritten manuscripts are a selection from one hundred and twenty compositions thought to have been penned by Scott Skinner in the 1890s which were recently donated by Tarland farmer John Rogie and deciphered by fiddle-player Paul Anderson.

The brand new tunes will be included in the new book from Helen Lynch (WORD Centre for Creative Writing, University of Aberdeen) and Carley Williams (Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen), called The Aberdeen Collection: 250 Contemporary Scottish Tunes in Traditional Style. The book is being brought out to celebrate the twentieth birthday of Scottish Culture & Traditions Association, which offers adult evening classes in traditional music, song and dance in the city.

Helen Lynch describes how the haul of new material from the fiddler, who died 100 years ago this year, came to be found:  “Farmer John Rogie had been a fiddle pupil of Bob Pithie of Ballater, a retired policeman with a passion for Scottish fiddle music. Bob Pithie was given the rare manuscripts in payment for the restoration of a fine violin owned by John Knowles of Aboyne, whose father was Alex Knowles of Ballater - a close friend and pupil of Skinner.”

Helen explains the inclusion of these tunes in the book: “James Scott Skinner was a crucial figure in Scottish traditional music, taking the art of Scottish fiddle music to a new level through his playing and compositions. Born near Banchory and growing up in Aberdeen, performing throughout Deeside and further afield while still a child under the initial tuition of Tarland fiddler Peter Milne, he went on to be an internationally celebrated composer and player, whose influence has long outlived him.

“The rationale for the inclusion of the tunes is that, while Scott Skinner is certainly ‘well deid’ his music has lived on – and especially these newly ‘discovered’, never-before-seen-melodies are entirely fresh to the current and next generation of musicians.”

The ‘Aberdeen Collection’ will be launched at a sell-out event at The Douglas Hotel, Aberdeen on Saturday July 1, and will include a presentation, with performances (such as well-known Tarland fiddler Paul Anderson playing the Scott Skinner tunes), and then a ceilidh in which the dance sets will consist entirely of new tunes from the book played by a core band and some of the composers. Published by Aberdeen University Press, the book also contains new melodies by 97 musicians from the North-East and beyond, and will be available from  after July 1st.