I'm frequently browsing through bookshops to find good songbooks, but most of the time they're of the tourist top 40 genre with only the most popular tunes in. These are the sort of tunes you might hear played at the Edinburgh tattoo, and not the sort you'd here at a folk concert or down the pub.
I was at Blackfriars Music yesterday (the "Headquarters" of Scottish Folk) and got a copy of an excellent book by them called "The Singing Tradition on Scotland: Book 1, The Birken Tree". This particularly caught my eye as The Birken Tree was a song which our singing group performed in a concert a few weeks ago. The book is 3 pounds 50p, has 56 songs and is 64 pages. All the songs are Scottish, have staff music supplied, as well as a glossary of Scots words, notes on the songs and notes for guitarists.
There's the usual tourist songs such as The Lewis Bridal Song (Mairi's Wedding), Scotland the Brave and The Skye Boat Song, but the majority of songs are of the type that folk artists would record or which you would here down the pub. There's about 10 by Robert Burns. Unusually for book not written for the Gaelic market, there is a Gaelic song "Cumha Mhic Criomain" = MacCrimmon's Lament.
Blackfriars Music specialise in folk music and bagpipe music and sell instruments, records and books. The also publish the "Scottish Folk Arts Directory", the "yellow pages" of the Scottish folk scene detailing festivals, artists, record labels, societies, radio programmes, folk pubs etc etc. The 1994/95 edition is published next week. The 93/94 edition was 70 pages.
Blackfriars Music can be reached at:
(if you are visiting, the shop is open 7 days and is near The Scandic Crown hotel on the Royal Mile).
Another good book is "The Trefoil Song Book". This is a Scottish version of Rise up Singing. It has Scottish songs as well as non-Scottish songs. The lyrics are supplied together with chord sequences and chord charts for guitar.
The book has about 150 songs and is 63 A4 pages. To order one, contact The Trefoil Centre, Gogarbank, Edinburgh, EH12 9DA, Scotland Tel: 031 339 3148. The book is 2 pounds 50p plus postage.
The Trefoil centre organises holidays for the handicapped, is a charity, and proceeds from the sales of the book go towards continuing the work of the centre.
To the Gaelic Homepage