Bigg Taj vs Spee Six Nine – If You With Me

Scottish musical culture transcends language and history, from Hebridean Gaelic to Indian rhythms, through to the frank wordsmith that is Spee Six Nine. This is, for me, a fuller picture of contemporary Scotland.

The teacher told us to shut up and listen, glaring over the top of the electric piano, harpsichord setting, his eyes alive with a total obsessiveness of a man unused to not being listened too. He’d wire into fugues by Bach or variations by Mozart, occasionally adding his own unbearable falsetto voice to the clunky, same-y melodies that we would listen to in stony silence. Then we would be lectured on how one fella in 18th century Germany influenced another in 19th century Austria or vice versa. Variation #12 Opus 32. Music by numbers.

The Gaelic part of the course was equally as tenuous, as if the SQA in all their desire to make Scottish culture as monochrome and one-dimensional as possible, sought to somehow find the relevance of the traditional Puirt à beul (mouth music), or Òrain Luaidh (Waulking Songs) in suburban Edinburgh. Though we were spared the grey days of falsetto-heavy baroque and classical, the historical and cultural significance of Gaelic culture sadly fell on deaf ears. That is until in an act of academic sabotage, our once demur teacher broke rank and put on ‘Chanter’ by Martyn Bennett, and in one moment of glory that only exposure to music can provide, the world of sampling was thrown open to me.

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Bill Oddy – Stanley Odd

Poetry in Scotland holds this sort of mythical status, mythical enough indeed for a bunch of geezers to get dressed up in the ‘Shortbread-tin/ Brigadoon Scottish’ way and recite lines to a piece of offal every January 25th ‘aw in the name eh the bard eh?

For an Ayrshire farming lad to elevate himself into the national consciousness through tricks of the tongue, observational humour, and still-relevant use of ‘how Scottish people actually talk’ shows how much we value poetry in this country. Got to say that these values were somewhat lost during the educational years, when Higher English resolutely missed the point about how poetry has extreme relevance, both in its observational qualities as well as its phenomenal use of ‘that which which sets us apart from the cat videos’, language.

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