FolkWorld Issue 38 03/2009

by Walkin' T:-)M

That I for poor old Scotland's sake some useful plan or book could make or sing a sang at least. -- Robert Burns

Robert Burns

Tam O' Shanter - A Tale

In his brief life, Robert Burns (1759-1796) wrote some 500 songs and poems. He composed new songs and re-wrote already existing Scottish folk songs, using his native Scots dialect, an amalgam of old English plus words and expressions taken on board via historical trade connections and political alliances with Scandinavia, the Netherlands and France.

His songs and poems still strike a chord 200 years later. In the early 21st century, they are sung and recorded over and over again. Scots Wha Hae is by many regarded as the Scottish national anthem. Auld Lang Syne is the most-often sung song in the world, not only at New Year's Eve.

On 25th of January it had been 250 years that Scotland's national bard was born in a simple but-and-ben, the one-room cottage of the farm labourer, in Alloway, Ayrshire. This year Burns Night, a national day for every Scot, had been celebrated bigger than ever. With haggis, the traditional Scots dish of sheep's stomach and spices, Scotch whisky and perhaps a poem or two.

From Orkney to the Scottish Borders, Scotland is celebrating the 250th anniversary with a year-long programme of events. Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival offered a special Robert Burns programme in January. Burns will also be celebrated with the Burns an' a' that! festival, which takes place in May in his native Ayr. In July, Edinburgh will host one of the largest clan gatherings in Scottish history.

In this FolkWorld issue we have a look at the life and times of Robert Burns in particular and Scottish music in general. In further issues in 2009 we will explore different aspects, including his songs and poems. I suppose that every country and nation has its Robert Burns, its national bard and folk poet. In Scotland there is Robert Tannahill too, there is Thomas Moore in Ireland, Stephan Foster in the US... But where are all the others? Unfortunatly, they rarely come to the attention of the general public.

We hope that you will enjoy this FolkWorld issue. There is more than Scotland to celebrate. We once again would like to take you on a musical journey from Scandinavia to Spain, with a special stop in France. Our new series Folk & The City, presenting Braunschweig, Madrid and Schaffhausen, is meant to explore the roots music scene in different European cities. And, of course, it is time to look back on the musical highlights of 2008, before we are heading on.

Best wishes, Tom Keller (Walkin' T:-)M)

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 03/2009

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