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Ulster Scots Music

29 Oct 00 - 01:10 PM (#329762)
Subject: Ulster Scots Music
From: Herge

What is Ulster Scots Music? Is this an invented tradition or are there examples of tunes and songs unique to this area? Herge

29 Oct 00 - 02:09 PM (#329795)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: wildlone

I used ulster scots in a copernic search and came up with this
"click" .

click .

29 Oct 00 - 02:32 PM (#329802)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: Malcolm Douglas

It's a genuine tradition.  "Ulster Scots" were originally 17th. century Scottish immigrants to Ulster, who were encouraged to settle there as part of the strategy intended to end resistance to rule from Westminster.  Memories being long, the term is still used of Ulster Protestants, though many of the families have been there for hundreds of years, now.  There was also a great deal of immigration from Ulster to America from before the time of the War of Independence; a lot of people in America and Canada, for example, trace their ancestry to Ulster Scots.  Quite apart from the Plantations, there has always been a lot of commerce, both economic and cultural, between Scotland and the North of Ireland, which of course are physically very close; migrant workers, for example, going over for the potato and fruit harvests.  As might be expected, songs, tunes and dances have also made the journey in both directions.  A lot of songs of Scottish origin are to be found in Ulster, and dance-forms like the Highland and German are particularly popular there.  The band Altan, to name a well-known example, play a lot of this material.  Equally, a lot of material of Irish origin has found its way into Scottish tradition; such exchanges always work both ways.


29 Oct 00 - 06:30 PM (#329928)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: Peter K (Fionn)

Songs and tunes of Scottish origin are certainly to be heard in Ulster, but I think maybe Herge was wondering whether there is a strand of traditional music that has emerged from the Ulster-Scots link, and this does seem hard to pin down. There are obvious and clear similarities between Irish and Scottish traditional music anyway, and many of the Irish tunes are based on or have emerged from Scottish counterparts. If Herge is indeed asking whether the Scots in Ulster have produced a tradition of their own, I'm inclined to doubt it, but I'd be happy to be proved wrong.

By the way, I got to Matties at last, Herge, but you were reportedly up the road at the Londonderry Arms, playing at a wedding. Hope to be back next week, so maybe see you then.

30 Oct 00 - 05:18 AM (#330227)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: JTT

Yes there's Ulster Scots music - if by that you mean music played by Northern Ireland Protestants. Look for Orange music in your search engines and you'll find lots of it. Good music, too.

Typical songs would be The Sash My Father Wore, The Old Orange Flute, The Protestant Boys.

30 Oct 00 - 06:52 AM (#330249)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: Bud Savoie

Wildlone, those sites are a hoot. Use your imagination and you can figure most of the dialect out. If you are a Burns fan, much of it will be familiar.

30 Oct 00 - 11:38 PM (#330922)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: paddymac

Does "William Bloat" count?

31 Oct 00 - 05:40 PM (#331428)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: John Moulden

This is an area which neds careful investigation. There are many wild claims. My use and knowledge of the Sam Henry Collection (not just the published part edited by Gale Huntington and Lani Herrmann but his unpublished collection and that made at about the same time by other people working in the same area of north Antrim/north Londonderry) makes several things certain. Both broad politico/religious traditions sang; they sang mostly the same songs which showed signs of Irish, English, Scottish and some European influence - some even came from North America having originated there; both groups had some songs which were not usually sung, except in situations where there were none of the other group present, which supported there own political and religious position.

These statements are supported by a collection of more than a thousand songs which, because they were presented in a newspaper and because the songs or information about their singers was sent in by readers, is certain to have been more or less representative. More or less, because a newspaper (in the period 1923 - 1939) could not have published bawdy songs or any but the mildest political songs.

Today unfortunately, "Ulster-Scots" have allowed themselves to believe that their culture is represented musically only by the extreme sectarian end of what their section of north Irish society sang sixty years ago. Similarly the "Ulster-Irish" presently tend to deny that much of what they perform as mainstream Irish music and song derives from England and Scotland.

It is time, in my view, that Ulster-Scots reclaimed the mainstream of their musical heritage and time the Ulster-Irish admitted the part played by Ulster-Scots in theirs.

Incidentally, the Scottish Pipe Band Association in Northern Ireland is supported by bands whose membership is drawn from Scots and Irish Ulstermen and women.

01 Nov 00 - 06:49 AM (#331775)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: Peter K (Fionn)

It must be a big subject if it still needs careful investigating after all your work, John. Thanks for such an informative post.

I take it that William Bloat was a tongue-in-cheek offering, Paddymac? The Ballad of William Bloat is given errroneously as "anon" in an Oxford University Press anthology, but was written by Raymond Calvert. Words only, as far as I know, though I've heard it fitted to the Star of the County Down and other tunes. The OUP version has other mistakes, including (if I remember correctly) these last lines:

For the razor blade was Dublin made
But the rope was Belfast linen.

The original has "German" in place of "Dublin." I'm fairly sure too that "Belfast" should be "Irish" but as I'm travelling around a bit at present (in Ulster ironically) I can't check right now. Certainly "Belfast" has gained wide currency, and appears in most of the cyberspace versions and sefveral recordings. But there was/is no such thing as "Belfast linen" as far as I know. Obviously there was plenty of linen that came from Belfast, but I think it was only ever known as Irish.

01 Nov 00 - 01:48 PM (#332056)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: John Moulden


Do I know you? I would like to. I gather you are in Northern Ireland. You are at liberty to contact me privately -

01 Nov 00 - 07:32 PM (#332327)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: Peter K (Fionn)

I'll answer that here John, just to refresh the thread one more time. You don't know me, but I have been pleased to do business with you a couple of times in my real name of Peter Kirker.

Fionn was a name given to me by my Irish in-laws, who think that for someone who's English I meddle too much in Irish affairs. (I think that makes me leader of the Fianna, but opinions differ on the spelling!) I've long-since regretted entering the Mudcat Cafe with that name - if only because half the catters now think I'm female. (I should be able to turn that to my advantage, but can't think how.) But to change now would cause even more confusion, unless I make some sort of public announcement.

01 Nov 00 - 07:53 PM (#332347)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: alison


Belfast is very famous for its linen..... there aren't any factories now, (or at least as far as I know)... but there used to be the "Belfast Ropeworks"... many of my ancestors worked there.... there are also reminers of it in belfsat eg the "linen Hall Library"

in fact even in Australia you an still buy tea-towels with "Made from Belfast linen" printed on them.....

if you are over there... just off the M1 between Lisburn and Belfast I saw signs for some sort of "linen museum"....

the "Ulster Folk & Transport Museum" Cultra, also has exhibitions on linen, and has a replica of a scutching green where they used to leave the linen on the grass to bleach......



01 Nov 00 - 11:54 PM (#332500)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: paddymac

Yes, Fionn, it was tongue-in-cheek, sort of partly. It was my understanding that it originated as something of a children's street rhyme, but it has always struck me as a bit macabre for such an origin. But, who knows, kids can find humor in some pretty gruesome things. Do you know when it was written?

02 Nov 00 - 12:45 AM (#332531)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: Seamus Kennedy

The most common tune for William Bloat that I've heard is a march tempo of Raglan Road or the Dawning Of The Day, and I may be mistaken, but I think Tommy Makem gave it that setting. John Moulden, I'm looking at your book Songs Of The People (Part One) even as I type. Great work! and I must get Part Two next time I'm home. Thank you. All the best. Seamus Kennedy

02 Nov 00 - 01:36 AM (#332546)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: Rick Fielding

Fionn, I thought you were female. And a very attractive one at that! (just kidding)

My Scots wife Heather's lineage is Irish. The family name "Docherty" has seen several different spellings over a hundred and eighty years.


02 Nov 00 - 08:38 PM (#333159)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: Peter K (Fionn)

Yes, Alison, I know there was plenty of linen made in Belfast, as I thought I made clear. And I know something of the history of the mills. But I'd be surprised if the term "Belfast linen" was ever used while the mills were still in business. They called their product Irish linen.

But whether they did or they didn't, I'm pretty sure that "Irish" was in the original ballad, meaning the OUP has got it wrong. (So, alas, has the Digital Tradition. How does one suggest corrections?)

02 Nov 00 - 09:22 PM (#333189)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: Peter K (Fionn)

Sorry Paddymac, forgot to say there is now (by sheer coincidence it seems), a William Bloat thread. I added just a bit more info there.

03 Nov 00 - 03:17 PM (#333810)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: John Moulden

Thank you, Peter (Fionn) and Seamus for your kind words; I'll try to justify them by getting going again on Songs of the People Part 2. William Bloat was published recently by Blackstaff Press in an edition illustrated by Hector McDonnell. The text is certified as Raymond Calvert's in a note by Irene Calvert, whose relationship, wife or daughter, is not made clear. However, the note also states that it was composed in 1926 for use at a supper which was customarily held after the final night of each production by the Queen's University of Belfast Dramatic Society. The linen was Irish.

If it's traditional, it's within the middle class tradition.

02 Mar 02 - 10:45 PM (#661655)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: GUEST,Annraoi

Refresh. John Moulden and I have had some exchange of ideas on this topic. Nothing too deep as we both have bigger fish to fry, but I grew up knowing only one type of "folk" music and that was simply called "music" or, if a finer definition were required, Traditional Music. there was no such thing as Ulster Scots Music. There were tunes composed by Scots musicians - Scott Skinner's tunes were held in very high regard, for example, and the late great Jimmy Shand's music was greatly admired throughout Ireland. On the whole, the essential unity of the Traditional Music of both countries was accepted. It came as something of a shock to me when I found out that the grat reel "The Mason's Apron" is Scottish in origin.
I do not like this recent attempt make the music an instrument of political divisivness and will have none of it. On another thread I have asked for a definition of Ulster Scots Music. I am still waiting for an answer.

04 Mar 02 - 09:38 AM (#662384)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: Big Mick

Annraoi, I am with you on this one. Personally I have never made much distinction between what has become known as Irish traditional music and Scottish traditional music, other than where the author lived. I am also interested in hearing the defining criteria. I thought you observation of using the music as "an instrument of political divisivness" is spot on. The music is simply the music. Well said, sir.


04 Mar 02 - 09:52 AM (#662392)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: Big Mick

John, I am very interested in your book and will start searching for it straightaway. Any tips on the easiest way to obtain a copy? Guess I will run and check Amazon, through the links.

18 Mar 02 - 12:14 PM (#671346)
Subject: RE: Ulster Scots Music
From: GUEST,Roger O'K

Do all threads ultimately converge? This was sent to me by a colleague with the comment that it had to be the weirdest St Patrick's Day headline he had seen:

Sex-offence suspect is not CEO, agency says The chairman of the Ulster Scots Agency has said that a man who has been charged with child sex offences in the US was not the body's chief executive.

And there I was thinking that only Catholic bishops and priests (see other thread) were open to this kind of accusation!