Scotland's rich heritage of music and dancing has aroused worldwide interest for many years. Fortunately, the development of Scottish music in the last 300 years has been exceedingly well documented. 

     Around the time of the Restoration (1660), the violin arrived in Scotland and was to become, along with the bagpipes, one of the two national instruments.  Craftsmen copied famous Italian models, particularly those of Amati and Guarnerius, and a craft was founded that still flourishes in Scotland today.  Dancing was a very popular pastime in eighteenth-century Scotland and the violin was found to be ideally suited to playing dance music.  Thus, the 18th century became known as the "golden age" of Scottish music. 

     In addition to the violin, the piano, cello, and Scottish small-pipes were important instruments in dance music.  The small-pipes, similar to the Great Highland pipes, yet bellows blown, smaller, and often tuned to a different key, had fallen out of use for a number of years.  Its recent explosion in popularity is like the return of an old friend.  It is important to note that the small pipes is an instrument found only in the Lowlands. 

     The one distinctive form that Scottish instrumental music can claim as unique is the "strathspey."  Conceived as a musical prelude to the reel, the strathspey, as it exists today, represents an evolution, and thus no exact date can be given for its invention.

     Published collections of strathspeys and reels did not appear until the middle of the 18th century, by which time tunes like "Tulloch Gorm" were already old tunes.  The strathspey and Scottish reel both originated as pipe tunes.  However, when fiddlers took up the strathspey with the enlarged tonal range of the violin, a very considerable development took place in both forms. 

Toby Rider

Music in Cape Breton Music in Cape Breton
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