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The Flute in Scotland from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century


Elizabeth C. Ford

It is a generally accepted truth that the flute was unknown in Scotland prior to 1725, and that it was played exclusively by wealthy men. Upon examination, these beliefs are demonstrably false. This book explores the role of the flute in Scottish musical life, primarily in the long eighteenth century, including players, repertoire, manuscripts, and instruments. Evidence for ladies having played the flute is also examined, as are possible connections between flute playing and bagpipe playing. Reasons for the flute’s disappearance from the pantheon of Scottish instruments are considered, and interviews with contemporary flute players in Scotland depict flute playing in contemporary Scotland. This work fills a major gap in knowledge of Scottish musical life and flute history.

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Manuscript sources

‘Account Due by John Menzies to John Ewen, Aberdeen.’ 1784. GB-Enas GD237/11/123.

‘Book of English and Scottish Tunes, Various Instruments.’ c. 1702. GB-En MS 2833.

Bremner, Robert. ‘Letters Regarding Purchase of the Organ for St Cecilia’s Hall and the Engagement of J. C. G. Schetky to Perform for the Edinburgh Musical Society.’ February 1772. GB-Enas GD113/5/210/6.

Bruce, Alexander. ‘VIII Sonata Del Signor Robert Valentine a Due Flauto/flauto secunda/Alxder Bruce.’ 1717. Private collection, Lord Balfour of Burleigh.

Campbell, Colin. ‘Letter to Mrs Campbell.’ 31 January 1781. GB-Enas GD112/16/2/9.

Clerk, John. ‘Folder of Manuscript Music by John Clerk.’ Seventeenth century. GB-Enas GD18/4538/9.

Colquhon, F. ‘Manuscript Book for Flute.’ 1752. GB-Gm M18106.

‘Concerto for Transverse Flute, Two Violins, and Basso Continuo.’ n.d. GB-Enas GD40/15/55.

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