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Scottish Music: Pipe Band at Fochabers
A pipe band at the Gordon Castle Highland Games in Fochabers.


Music in Scotland comes in at least three categories: traditional, classical, and popular.

Traditional is perhaps the Scottish music many visitors would be thinking of first, because of the international reputation of the bagpipes and the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. Despite their presence on many a street corner, though, there’s more to traditional music than bagpipes. For example fiddle music and the clarsach ( a small harp with wire strings ) not to mention the many folk singers Scotland has produced over the years – and there’s even more than one type of bagpipe! Finding live traditional music shouldn’t be a problem – try a folk music club or pub, or see if a folk festival, from the famed Celtic Connections to the more cosy Innerleithen Music Festival,  is on somewhere, or go to one of the countless ceilidhs or “Scottish Nights”.

Visitors wanting classical music might initially think of Edinburgh in August with the world famous Edinburgh International Festival, but will be relieved to hear that opera, recitals and orchestral concerts can also be found at other times of the year and in other towns and cities. Contemporary composers like Sir James MacMillan and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies have made their homes here and been inspired by Scotland’s scenery and history and Scotland boasts three full-time professional orchestras.

In the popular music field Scotland has produced great musicians from Midge Ure to Emeli Sande and KT Tunstall and bands from Deacon Blue and Del Amitri to Franz Ferdinand. But there’s always new stuff going on and newer, younger bands and musicians waiting for that first big break. Perhaps the most likely place to find them is in Glasgow, a UNESCO Creative City of Music – it has been said that Glasgow has “counted an average of 130 music events a week” ranging not just from pop and rock but to Celtic music and opera as well.

But there’s more than just three categories as musicians cross boundaries and blend genres. Folk and rock have been successfully fused by popular bands from Runrig to the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. As you explore, you will find more.


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