Thursday, 14 November 2013

He promised to Write a Scottish Musical History - but Callander didn't follow through

I've blogged often enough about the illusive John Callander, but now I have an article published in Scottish Music Review:-
An Unwritten Enlightenment Scottish Musical History, and Two Reconstructed Edinburgh Bookshelves
Find out what this 18th century member of the Scottish 'literati' hoped to write about - and what went wrong.  This may not be my final word on Callander, but it is probably my most extensive piece of writing, including a transcript of his book proposal.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

True Imaginary Friend Hugh Cameron Drags me into the Limelight

Remember I mentioned Hugh Cameron, the 18th century owner of a little fiddle tunebook that turned up in Greenock a few months ago?  Well, after I'd been to see the fiddle tunebook bearing his signature, Inverclyde's press officer and archivist got their heads together and decided the manuscript would make an interesting centrepiece for a 'get to know your archives' week this autumn.  I was asked if any of the music was suitable for a group of senior school pupils to play.  The book contained only tunes, not harmonies, so I set a couple of pieces for string trio, and thought nothing more of it.  Until a couple of weeks ago, when I had a phonecall asking if I would mind attending a press-call.

Which explains how yesterday morning saw me huddled on a very rainy railway platform, heading for Inverclyde.  In due course, the string-players played, the archivist and I were photographed and filmed, and with any luck we'll appear in the Greenock Telegraph on Friday, not to mention any other media that the Press Association might distribute us to.  Let me know if you catch a glimpse of us!

The Scotsman - Mystery songbook from 1709
Inverclyde Council - Rare Songbook at Centre of Archive Treasure Trove 
Greenock Telegraph - Greenock Songbook was unheard for 200 years
BBC iPlayer Radio Scotland Newsdrive - halfway through the programme at 56'23"

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Pirate Wright has been Wrongly Accused

Now, I'm not saying that John Wright wasn't a publishing pirate.  If Frank Kidson and William C. Smith agree that he indulged in piracy, then I'm not going to argue.  But what I am decisively saying, is that the anonymous book in Dundee's Wighton Collection, which Frank Kidson said was Wright's pirated copy of a John Walsh book, actually has nothing to do with Wright at all. It is not a Wright book, period.

What it is, is a compilation of two books, both published by John Walsh in the early 1730s, into one single volume, again published by Walsh.  I've explained more on our Bass Culture project blog.  You can read it here.  In due course, I'll write a more extensive article about it, so I won't go into too much detail right now.  

I feel a bit guilty about poor Mr Wright, though.  He could have indulged in all manner of underhand publications for all I know, but he is totally blameless in this particular instance.  So if you see the ghost of an early 18th century publisher traipsing the streets of London and wringing his hands in a mournful way, can I ask you a favour?  Please stop and tell him I'm sorry that he was falsely accused!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

John Callander's Ghost is Smiling

In 1781, John Callander published his Proposals to write a history of Scottish music.  

In 2013, his Proposals will be published again, this time online in the Scottish Music Review, complete with an extensive article and details of the books he referred to.  I've compared his 'library' with the library of an antiquary whose music history was published - that of William Tytler. 

Watch this space - I'll post a link when SMR goes online.