Robbie Burns and the Music of Scotland

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Thursday, 24 January, 2008

This coming Friday, January 25th, we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, with two Burns Suppers at Caledon Loch Avie: one for European audiences beginning at 12 noon SLT and another at 7pm SLT. Music and audio for the proceedings will be available on the Radio Riel stream, and provided by Her Grace Gabrielle Riel in the first instance, and Edward, Lord Primbroke in the latter. More information will be published here shortly.

Between now and Friday we will be broadcasting a continuing programme of Scottish music (and a little music about Scotland) on music.radioriel.org, featuring both traditional and contemporary styles and artists — from the sound of the pipes to some of the country’s leading folk artists; from Gaelic song to Celtic jigs.

We generally start our day’s programmes with a medley that includes a familiar tune from each country that makes up the British Isles. This week, however, we will be featuring a special piece of music that instead consists of a selection of Scottish melodies. It’s called Scotlandia, performed by Geraldo and his Orchestra. It may be familiar to Scottish listeners, as it was used by the commercial TV station Scottish Television to begin their programmes from 1957 until relatively recently.

The arrangement is by Ray Terry – one of Geraldo’s staff arrangers and also, ironically, a member of the mighty BBC Television orchestration department of the 1960s. “Gerry” was extremely well known and highly regarded when this piece was first used (he had a regular show on the Light Programme), and no wonder, as he manages to artfully cram a vast number of tunes into four or so minutes, several with a common Jacobite theme.

The melodies include “The Campbells Are Coming”, “Will Ye No Come Back Again” (by Lady Carolina Nairne, 1766–1845, composer of many post-Jacobite patriotic songs), “Loch Lomond”, “Comin’ Through the Rye”, “Charlie Is My Darling”, “Wi’ a Hundred Pipers” (that’s another two by Lady Nairne) and several more.

It turns up in the programme from time to time as our station identification, and we hope you enjoy it — including the extra ending that was never broadcast. Our copy comes direct from the original 78rpm record (with a little digital assistance on the cleanup).

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