Various Artists

Songs and Pipes of the Hebrides

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The craggy Hebrides Islands shield Scotland's northwest coast. Despite being bleak, isolated, and windswept by Atlantic gales, the islands are dotted with small communities of hardy Scottish-Gaelic speaking folk. On Songs & Pipes of the Hebrides traditional Hebridean music comes alive. First issued by Folkways in 1952, the 12 cuts on this disc include chants, lullabies, work songs, and bag-piping solos. The oldest musical form heard here is Mrs. Archie MacDonald's rendition of "Duanag Na Ceardaich." Stemming from Medieval times, this chant consists of four tones. Over each tone Mrs. Archie MacDonald speaks many words in free and improvisatory rhythm. Another ancient cut is Don MacKinnon's lullaby, "Ho Ho Vo Laidi Bheag." Its soothingly soporific spell stems from an ancient pentatonic (five-note) scale. The bag-piping cut features brisk salvos of notes between wheezing drones and pleasant melodies. As with all Folkways recordings, detailed liner notes that make sense of these rich and varied traditions are included with the album. Since they were first settled back around 4000 BC, the Hebrides have experienced varied waves of visitors: Vikings in 850, Celts during the Middle Ages, and camera-clicking tourists today. And as each group has brought their music with them, the island's barren landscape has been transformed, growing a bit more hospitable with each passing year.

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