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.

Leggi tutto “Bigg Taj vs Spee Six Nine – If You With Me”

A Man’s a Man for a’ that – Robert Burns

Why we study Orwell but not Burns. An ill-informed rant from an ill-informed ranter.

Note: The following is a personal take on Robert Burns’ work with reference to collective action and an egalitarian future. If you don’t agree with it, then please vent all frustrations towards your nearest haggis.

Around the 25th of January every year at school we would do a Burns poem, usually a last ditch effort of guilt-ridden tokenism for my Scottish school in which ‘English’ literature at exam level gave no mention to a man who is revered as a national bard. Though things may have changed, I assure you that back in the golden age of 2005, Burns was unavailable to us.

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward-slave, we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

In an age in which schooling has come to propagate the merits of capitalism and individualism, the idea of status as a result of money or possessions being inferior to the simple human existence, is downright subversive in the eyes of many for whom privilege is status. The line being that the superiority and inherent good in mankind won’t get you on any graduate trainee schemes and it certainly isn’t worth any UCAS points.

Leggi tutto “A Man’s a Man for a’ that – Robert Burns”