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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.

«Elizabeth Ford has gifted the Scottish flute a rich history, with intriguing and entertaining characters, a varied repertoire, and a promising future. The book romps through its vast store of archival evidence with dry humour, part of the growing movement to take Scotland’s musical history seriously, rather than relying on myth and folklore.» (Dr David McGuiness, University of Glasgow)

«Dr Ford’s book is wonderfully illuminating and thoughtful. Her immense curiosity matched by her thorough and organized research has produced an impressive work; shedding light not only on the flute in early Scotland, but music making in Europe during the Enlightenment. It’s a fascinating read!» (Chris Norman, Director, Boxwood Festivals, flute maker and player)