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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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Receiving the National Flute Association’s 2017 Graduate Research Award confirmed that this research was valuable and of interest to more than just a few people, and motivated me to pursue publication, and so I thank the NFA committee for their acknowledgement of my work. Reconstruction of the Crathes Castle flute was made possible by funding received from the Friends of St Cecilia’s Hall, the Royal Musical Association, and the Hope Scott Trust, as well the keen enthusiasm of Donald W. G. Lindsay and John Purser. Further research on James Oswald’s chamber music was funded by a fellowship from the Handel Institute, and this has enabled me to begin to clear up the confusion surrounding his output for flute.

Working as a foreign early career researcher in the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ has been made significantly less stressful through the sponsorship of Alison McGillivray and Katherine McGillivray’s Get a Life Fund. Completing this book would have been impossible without the stability this visa sponsorship has provided.

The many librarians and fellow scholars who have offered thoughts, practical assistance, and words of wisdom along the way are too numerous to mention, but especial thanks go to Bob McLean who has helped with many last-minute challenges. The support of my parents and loved ones, especially Hamish and Tumshie, has been invaluable. I would, as usual, be utterly hopeless without the practical assistance of Debra Hutcheson. Many flute players have spoken with me about my research and their music,...

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