The Soil Beneath Our Feet
Guest blog by Joseph Peach, local musician and Project Manager for the Music & Tales project
A living landscape is more than just scenery; it is the interaction between people and place. Stories, music and song reflect these interactions, helping us better understand where we have come from and where we might go. Coigach and Assynt have a wonderfully rich cultural heritage: A gàidhlig speaking area until recently, there were strong traditions of music and song, and a rich oral history. Indeed it produces more than it’s fair share of musicians who are reaching national and international acclaim.
The ever-changing modern world poses a threat to oral traditions on a global scale. Simply, the practice of sharing information in this way no longer happens in a way that it once did.
The project aims to capture, some of the area’s music, song and tales, while they still live amongst an ageing generation. To celebrate and promote them, and preserve them for future generations. It will create employment opportunities for musicians from the area, professional development and mentorship opportunities for our young musicians and the chance for them to engage in a real way with their local cultural heritage. All of this will take place over the next five years, whilst practicing an ethos that has community engagement at its heart.
This year we’re getting things off the ground with a collection project: unearthing new music, song and oral history from the area, and connecting it with existing archives.
Volunteers from the local area will have the opportunity to participate in workshops with leaders in the field of collecting oral history, song and music, before going out and doing it themselves in their local community.
As well as this we’ll be running a training and mentorship program for young people of the area. Three local young musicians will be involved with the collecting project, and then in August will spend a week working with acclaimed local musician Mairearad Green to develop the music and song collected in to a gig, which will be toured over four nights in the local area.
Future years will see the continuation of the strands of collecting, and development for young people, as well as further activity:
A collection of the area’s music, tales and song will be published, and an extensive cataloguing and archiving project that sees the material researched and collected accessible to future generations.
The nature of tradition, and how new music finds its way in has changed. Musicians from the area will be commissioned new music inspired by the area’s living landscape and their experience of it. The work will be recorded and support provided to tour it and promote it.
Please stay tuned for future opportunities to get involved!
Our cultural history, the people of this area is what makes the landscape a living one, and what we have here is a unique opportunity to capture it.
We’re looking for volunteers, for people who can become fieldworkers and go out talk to, and interview people,recording their music, songs and stories.
No knowledge, of music or collecting is required, we’ll be providing full training in partnership with the University of Edinburgh European Ethnological Research Centre.
The process will be ongoing for the next few years. The material we collect will feed in to every other aspect of the project: The training for young people, commissioning of new work, but also will be published as a book, or series of volumes.
Please get in touch with Joseph Peach at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested, and do spread the word to others who might interested to be involved.
Money for travel expenses associated with taking part in the project will be available.