Dr Frances Wilkins

Dr Frances Wilkins

Lecturer in Ethnomusicology

Dr Frances Wilkins
Dr Frances Wilkins

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 272310
The University of Aberdeen The Elphinstone Institute, MacRobert Building, Kings College, Aberdeen AB24 5UA
Web Links

Research Homepage  

James Bay Fiddle blog   Soundscapes Rostock   Funeralscapes

Blyde Lasses 


Frances Wilkins is an ethnomusicologist specialising in Scottish and Cree fiddle music and singing traditions. She is a lecturer in ethnomusicology at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen. She has worked on a number of research projects in Scotland, Germany, Canada, and England, and regularly gives lectures on her research and develops and leads courses in Scottish music, world music, ethnomusicology, and soundscapes studies at the University of Aberdeen. She has attended numerous academic conferences and has published articles and book chapters on her research.

Frances has been conducting research into the Cree fiddle tradition of James Bay, Northern Canada, and its links to the traditional music of the Orkney Islands since 2011. This has involved regular fieldwork visits over the last two years including two months' fieldwork in the James Bay region between October and December 2011. Follow her research blog here. In Scotland, she was Early Career Researcher on the AHRC-funded 'Sharing All Our Stories' project, led by Dr Elizabeth Curtis, and is currently working on the collaborative research project, Funeralscapes.


Research Interests

  • Scottish instrumental and vocal music traditions
  • James Bay fiddle music
  • Sacred singing traditions of coastal communities of Northern Scotland and the Northern Isles
  • Musical traditions of the Scottish diaspora
  • Scottish musical traditions in Canada
  • Field videography and annotation
  • Funeralscapes
  • Traditional music education and performance in the UK
  • English concertina history and performance
  • Soundscape studies

Current Research

  • James Bay fiddle music
  • Funeralscapes
  • The Lewis Melodeon Tradition
  • Field videography and annotation
  • Scottish traditional music education and performance
  • Sacred singing practice in Scotland
  • Music of the Scottish diaspora in Canada
  • Sound and video archives



  • 2013 'The Fiddlers of James Bay: Transatlantic Flows and Musical Indigenization among the James Bay Cree' MUSICultures 40/1 (2013).
  • 2012 'Scottish Music on the English Concertina', Papers of the International Concertina Association Volume 9 (2012). 
  • 2010 'Precentor-led Praise: Northern Scottish Traditions of Unaccompanied Congregational Singing', Musike (2010). 
  • 2009 'Gordon Haxton and Peter Donald: English Concertina Players from the Mission Halls of Glasgow', Papers of the International Concertina Association Volume 6 (2009).
  • 2008 'Precentors and Pitchpipes: Congregational Singing in Brethren Assemblies in Heirskip (2008).
  • 2007 'The Gospel Singing Tradition and the Fishing Industry of Buchan', Heirskip (2007), 25-7
  • 2007 'The Singing Fishermen', Leopard Magazine 333 (March 2007), 23-4.
  • 2004 Articles on sound archive work at Cecil Sharp House, English Dance and Song Magazine, Music Maker Magazine (2004)

Book Chapters

  • 2014 'Onboard Radio Receivers in the Scottish Fishing Industry 1950-1965: Evangelicalism and the Gospel Soloist' in The Sea and the British Musical Imagination, ed. by Chris Scheer and Eric Saylor (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, forthcoming)
  • 2014 'Southern Gospel in North-East Scotland: The Necessity for Change and the Lasting Impact of Moody and Sankey', in "A Closer Walk": Essays on Southern Gospel Music (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, forthcoming). 
  • 2013 ‘Gifts from the Holy Spirit: Song Composition and Performance in North-East Scottish Evangelicalism’, in Experiencing Religion, SIEF Working Group in Ethnology of Religion (Warsaw, forthcoming).
  • 2013 ‘Strengthening Identity through Community Singing: Praise Nights in North-East Scotland's Deep Sea Missions’, in Taking Part (Aberdeen: Elphinstone Institute, forthcoming).
  • 2010 'The Fiddle at Sea: Tradition and Innovation Among Shetland's Sailors since the Eighteenth Century' in Crossing Over (Elphinstone Institute and Memorial University, Newfoundland, 2010), pp. 7-18.
  • 2008 'Sacred Song at Work: Gospel Songs and Psalmody in the Workplace Along Scotland's North-East Coast', in Rethinking the Sacred: Proceedings of the Ninth SIEF Conference in Derry, ed. by Ulrika Wolf-Knuts and Kathleen Grant (Derry: Åbo Akademi University, 2008), pp. 125-38.
  • 2007 'The Role of Sacred Song in Religious Awakenings Among the Fisherfolk of North-East Scotland During the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries' in The Travels and Travails of the Scots Herring Girls, ed. by Jill de Fresnes (Sabhal Mor Ostaig, Skye: UHI Press, 2007) pp. 20-29.


  • 2013 Annotated video collection, 'Musical Traditions of Scottish Evangelical Christians, 2005 – 2009' Indiana University Ethnomusicology Video for Instruction and Analysis (EVIA) digital archive website www.eviada.org (2010). Forthcoming.
  • 2011 Website, 'Soundscapes of Rostock: An Ethnomusicological View of City Sound', with Dr Barbara Alge (Rostock: Hochschule fur Musik und Theater, 2011) www.soundscapesrostock.de (2011)

Book/Website Reviews

  • 2015 Book review of Irish and Scottish Encounters with Indigenous Peoples, Ed. by David A. Wilson and Gramem Morton for International Review of Scottish Studies
  • 2015 Book review of Karen McAulay, Our Ancient National Airs (Farnham, Burlington: Ashgate, 2013) for NOTES: The Quarterley Journal of the Music Library Association.
  • 2015 CD Review of Orkney: Traditional Dance Music from Orkney in Folk Music Journal 10/5 (2015)
  • 2011 Website review of the British Library Archival Sound Recordings Website, Yearbook for Traditional Music Vol. 43. http://sounds.bl.uk
  • 2009 Review of Karen Ahlquist, ed., Chorus and Community (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2006) in Folk Music Journal.
  • 2008 Review of Kirsten Sass Bak & Svend Nielsen, Spiritual Folk Singing: Nordic and Protestant Traditions in The Swedish Journal of Musicology Vol. 11.
  • 2008 Review of Fenella Bazin, The Everlasting Hills, in Folk Music Journal 9/4 (2008), 439-41.

Editorial Work

  • 2013 Guest editor with Heather Sparling and Kati Szego, MUSICultures special issue, Atlantic Roots and Routes 40/1 (2013)
  • 2012 until present. Website Reviews editor, world of music (new series) Journal. 
  • 2009 Co-editor with Dr Ian Russell of Musike journal special publication on 'Sacred Singing: Musical Spirituality'.

Selected Recent Conference Papers and Public Lectures

  • 2014 16-18 October, 'Southern gospel in North-East Scotland: The Necessity for Change and the Lasting Impact of Moody and Sankey', at the Transnationalisation of Religion Through Music International Conference, University of Montreal.
  • 2014 14-15 March, 'Da Merry Boys O Greenland: Musical Reflections of Shetland's Maritime Culture', at Atlantic Sounds International Conference, University of Liverpool
  • 2013 5 September, 'The Fiddle at Sea: Exploring the Musical Traditions of Northern Sailors', at the Nairn Book and Arts Festival, Nairn, Morayshire.
  • 2013 25 May, 'Orcadians in the Sub-Arctic: Musical Exchanges with the James Bay Cree' with James, Daisy, and Treena Cheechoo at Stromness Academy, Orkney as part of the Orkney Folk Festival. 
  • 2012 13 July, 'The Fiddle at Sea: Exploring the Musical Traditions of Northern Sailors', at the Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther, Fife. 
  • 2012 24 April 'Scots in the Arctic: Musical Exchanges with the James Bay Cree in Canada', The Elphinstone Institute Public Lecture, MacRobert Building, University of Aberdeen. 
  • 2012 24-26 February, 'Scots of the Sub-Arctic: Musical Migration from Orkney to James Bay' at ICTM Ireland Annual Conference, Trinity College, Dublin.
  • 2011 1-3 September, 'Strengthening Identity through Community Singing: Praise Nights in North-East Scotland's Deep Sea Missions' at Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives, Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford, United Kingdom.
  • 2011 15-19 September, 'Retaining Principles or Ensuring Survival? Issues of Intransigence within North-East Scottish Gospel Male Voice Choirs' at the European Seminar of Ethnomusicology, The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
  • 2010 1-3 June, 'Gifts from the Holy Spirit. Contemporary song composition in North-East Scottish Evangelicalism' at the SIEF Working Group on Ethnology of Religion Conference, 'Experiencing Religion: New Approaches Towards Personal Religiosity, State Ethnographic Museum, Warsaw, Poland.
  • 2008 17-20 September, 'Precenting Christian Praise: A Comparative Approach to Unaccompanied Congregational Hymnody and Psalmody on the East and West Coast of Scotland' at the European Seminars in Ethnomusicology annual conference, Institute of Musicology, University of Warsaw, Poland.
  • 2008 3-8 August, 'The Fiddle at Sea: Tradition and Innovation in the Cultural Milieu of Fishing and Exploratory Vessels from Scotland's Northern Isles during the Last Two Centuries' at the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention, Memorial University, St. Johns, Newfoundland.
  • 2008 31 July - 3 August, 'Precentors and Pitch Pipes: Encounters with Melodic Praise among the Brethren of North-East Scotland' at The Third Biennial Conference of the North American British Music Studies Association, York University, Toronto, Canada.
  • 2008 16-20 June, 'Sacred song at work: Gospel songs and psalmody in the workplace along Scotland's North-East coast' at the 9th SIEF (International Society for Folklore and Ethnology) Congress, University of Ulster, City of Derry, Northern Ireland.
  • 2007 17-21 October, 'Technological Advancement in the Fishing Industry and the Use of the Trawler Radio Band to Transmit Gospel Singing among North-East Scottish Fishermen' at the American Folklore Society Annual General Meeting, Hilton Quebec, Quebec City, Canada.
  • 2007 5-8 July, 'Technological Advancement in the Fishing Industry and the Use of the Trawler Radio Band to Transmit Gospel Singing among North-East Scottish Fishermen.' At the Fifth Biennial International Conference on Music since 1900, University of York.
  • 2007 18-21 April, 'Let the Lower Lights be Burning: The Development of Gospel Singing in the Fishing Communities of North-East Scotland' presented at the British Forum of Ethnomusicology Annual Conference, ICMuS, University of Newcastle.

Public Exhibitions

Funeralscapes: Re-experiencing Sound and Rites in a Viking, Early Christian, and Pre-Christian Landscape

  • 2014 'Being Human' Festival of Arts and Humanities, St Machar's Cathedral, Aberdeen
  • 2014 Department of History and Politics, The University of Stirling
  • 2015 Early Christian Weekend, The Island of Eigg

‘The Cree Fiddlers of James Bay’ exhibition of photography and videography.

  • 2012 Wemindji Cultural Department, Wemindji, Quebec.
  • 2012 North Atlantic Fiddle Convention, Derry.
  • 2012 MacRobert Building, University of Aberdeen.

‘Soundscapes Rostock’ photography, text, and audio installation.

  • 2011 Haus Böll, Rostock, with Dr Barbara Alge, in association with the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock.

Sound/Video Archive Work

  • 2012 Archivist, The James Bay Fiddle Archive, Wemindji, Quebec.
  • 2009-2010 Archives Assistant, The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen.
  • 2009 Participant on the Ethnomusicological Video for Instruction and Analysis Digital Archive Summer Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington. Training in annotating field video recordings.
  • 2002 – 2004 Cecil Sharp House Sound Archives. Digitiser for BBC collection of Scottish field recordings and Hugh Tracey African collection


  • 2014 Funeralscapes: Re-Experiencing Sound and Rites in a Viking, Early Christian, and Pre-Christian Landscape with Dr Shane McLeod (University of Stirling) and Dr Carlos Galan-Diaz (University of Aberdeen)
  • 2012 Cree Nation of Wemindji Cultural Department. Working in collaboration with anthropologist Katherine Scott to develop the James Bay Fiddle sound library and photographic exhibition in the community. 
  • 2010-2011 Eurolecturer position at Rostock University of Music and Theatre October 2010-February 2011. Working in collaboration with the ethnomusicologist Dr Barbara Alge to develop teaching in ethnomusicology fieldwork techniques and 'soundscapes' documentation at Rostock University of Music and Theatre.

Research Grants

  • 2014 Enterprise Music Scotland, Traditional Arts Small Grant Fund (£2,000). Aberden Button Boxes and Moothies Festival 2015 (with Prof. Ian Russell).
  • 2014 'The North' Public Engagement fund (£1,200). uneralscapes', with Dr Shane McLeod (University of Stirling) and Dr Carlos Galán Díaz (University of Aberdeen).
  • 2014 'How to Collaborate Virtually' funding competition award, Centre for Academic Developoment, University of Aberdeen (£1,000). 'Funeralscapes', with Dr Shane McLeod (University of Stirling) and Dr Carlos Galán Díaz (University of Aberdeen).
  • 2014 The Carnegie Trust, Small Research Grant (£2,500) 'Scots in the Sub-Arctic: Music and Dance Migration from Orkney to James Bay'.
  • 2013-14 'Sharing All Our Stories'. Early Career researcher on the AHRC-funded project, led by Dr Elizabeth Curtis in the School of Education, University of Aberdeen.
  • 2013 ‘Vibrant Aberdeen’ cultural grant, Aberdeen City Council (£2865). ‘Bringing the Music Home: James Bay Fiddling in Aberdeen’.
  • 2013 ‘The North’ Research Theme grant, University of Aberdeen (£1250).
  • 2012 Wemindji Protected Area Project, Wemindji, Quebec. Installation of Archive and Photography exhibition in Wemindji ($5,000)
  • 2011-2012 Royal Society of Edinburgh, Small Research Grant in the Arts and Humanities (£6,500), 'Scots in the Sub-Arctic: Musical Fingerprints among the Cree Fiddlers of James Bay'.
  • 2011-2012 Foundation for Canadian Studies in the UK, Independent Scholar's Award, 'Scots in the Sub-Arctic: Musical Fingerprints among the Cree Fiddlers of James Bay'.
  • 2010-11 Toepfer Foundation, Hamburg, Germany, Eurolecturer position, Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock, Germany.

Teaching Responsibilities

The Elphinstone Institute

  • EF 5001 History and Core Genres of Ethnology and Folklore
  • EF 5002 Intellectual Backgrounds and Methodologies
  • EF 5501 Oral Traditions
  • EF 5502 Scottish Contexts and Practical Fieldwork

The Department of Music

  • MU 2901 Introduction to Ethnomusicology
  • MU 3013 World Music
  • MU 3519 Scotland's Musical Traditions
  • MU 35B6 Ethnomusicology
Further Info

External Responsibilities

 Music Performance Work

  • Blyde Lasses - Fiddle and concertina duo performing a repertoire of Shetland music. Claire White on fiddle and vocals and Frances Wilkins on English concertina.

Sound Recordings

  • Frances Wilkins and Claire White, Blyde Lasses (BRIGGICD 101, 2013)
  • Danse McCabre, Instant Ceilidh: Just Add Dancers (Aberdeen: Danse McCabre, 2009)
  • Solan, The Haven and the Hurricane (Shetland Islands: Solan, 2000)
  • Solan, Northern Shore (Shetland Islands: Veesik Records, 1999)

Conference/Convention Committees

  • 2014 Button Boxes and Moothies Free Reed Convention and study day. Co-organiser with Prof. Ian Russell
  • 2009 – 2010 North Atlantic Fiddle Convention 2010, Aberdeen. Committee member.
  • 2009 Bluestones Songwriting Project, Peterhead 2009. Member of steering group.
  • 2008 British Forum of Ethnomusicology one day conference, Aberdeen University (November 2008), co-convener.
  • 2007 Free Reed Convention, the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen. Advisory Group Member. 26-28 October 2007.
  • 2007 CASS Postgraduate Conference, University of Aberdeen. Committee Member, Web editor and Catering officer 13-14 June 2007.
  • 2007 The Third National Graduate Conference in Ethnology and Folklore, The Elphinstone Institute, Aberdeen. Co-convener. 23-25 March 2007.