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Accordion Wars

Julie Fowlis presents a programme on the Accordion in Scottish Folk Music and the rivalries that have existed between Folk and the Scottish Country Dance Music participants.

In the world of folk music these days the accordion is everywhere. This presence has not always been the case. In fact, it is relatively recent.

We will hear from many participants and contributors including Jimmie Macgregor, Phil Cunningham, Donald Shaw and Emily Smith to get to the real story.

Folk music in Scotland in the 1960s, 1970s and indeed into 1980s was largely song-based. Scottish Country Dance Music (SDM) was not welcome in folk clubs as it was seen as being part of a largely outdated tartan-clad variety entertainment that was perceived as having misrepresented Scottish culture. Folk music was the real thing. What was conveniently, lazily, or indeed cruelly, overlooked was the fact the great Jimmy Shand was the real thing, a melodeon player from the miners' rows in West Fife.

The Scottish Dance Music culture was seen as being rule-ridden and was largely staid and formal compared to the perceived informality in the Folk Music world.

The accordion had a significant presence in Ireland and in English dance bands. Players such as Johnny Handle and Jim Bainbridge from The NE of England and John Kirkpatrick from the south were noted accomplished musicians. Maestros such as Jackie Daly enlivened the use of the instrument in the Irish tradition.

The Ceilidh culture of the late 1980s & 1990s, combined with an increasing emphasis on instrumental ability, helped to bring the instrument(s) to the front line in Scotland.

Now there are some extremely good young players in each camp who demonstrate inventive musicianship and composition on this diverse instrument.

30 minutes

Last on

Sat 17 Jul 2010 06:00