Defining Strains

The Musical Life of Scots in the Seventeenth Century

by James Porter (Volume editor)
©2007 Conference proceedings 388 Pages


This volume aims to fill a historical gap in the recent coverage of musical life in Scotland. The seventeenth century in Scotland, as in Europe, was one of religious controversy and civil strife. The period has thus been neglected by music historians in comparison with the centuries before and after it. But despite loss of royal patronage after 1603 Scots still made their impact as composers and preservers of their musical language. It was in this century that a distinctive Scots melodic idiom crystallised, as those ‘defining strains’ laid the basis for the flowering of song, both Highland and Lowland, a century later. At this time Scots also took a lively interest in the music of England, Ireland, France and Italy, as is evident in the music manuscripts of the period. This volume is the result of new research into such key figures as the composers Tobias Hume, William Kinloch, Patrick MacCrimmon, and the Aberdeen publisher John Forbes; it looks at the important manuscripts, including those of the classical bagpipe, harp, lute and keyboard repertoire as well as imported French and Italian music; it deals with burgh and ceremonial music, secular songs and their texts, and the psalm-singing that dominated public life. The essays are newly written from a range of specialties, including those of manuscript source analysis, text and music relationships, social contexts, and performance practice.


ISBN (Softcover)
Musik Geschichte 1580-1725 Aufsatzsammlung Music History Psalm Ceremonial music Schottland Classical bagpipe Manuscript
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2007. 388 pp., 12 ill.

Biographical notes

James Porter (Volume editor)

The Editor: James Porter was educated at the universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh. From 1966 to 1968 he was lecturer in music at the University of Edinburgh, from 1968 to 1996 Professor of Music at the University of California, Los Angeles, and from 1996 to 2002 Professor of Scottish Ethnology at the University of Aberdeen.


Title: Defining Strains