Mairi Campbell and David Francis write song inspired by Robert Burns for Scotland Sings

The Scottish music couple have been commissioned to write the song as part of the Renewing the Tradition project

Scottish musicians Mairi Campbell and David Francis have written a song inspired by Robert Burns for a project that aims to encourage people in Scotland to sing and to celebrate Scottish tradition.

Commissioned by the Renewing the Tradition project from Scotland Sings, Campbell and Francis are breathing new life into Burns’s work with their song There’s Some Wad Say.

The husband and wife team, who have been creating songs and shows together for 20 years, were inspired by Burns’s song A Fiddler in the North, which is sometimes known as Amang the Trees, and by his song A Man’s a Man for A’ That.

The new song, with melody by Campbell and with lyrics by Francis in the Scots language, is about people taking change into their own hands and doing what they can to find resilience and support, including support from the stories, histories, people, songs and dances of their own culture.

Source of strength

“Cheer ye, cheer ye, the change that’s like to cheer ye Pibroch, sang, strathspey an reel Will hearten an sustain ye weel,” are the words of the song’s last chorus, which draws attention to Scotland’s own culture as a source of strength and nourishment for the people, thinks Campbell.

“We have ignored, or been encouraged to ignore, what’s under our very feet: the stories, history, people, songs and dances of our culture,” Campbell said. “I began my musical education in the classical music world, which was tacitly embarrassed to acknowledge and identify with Scottish traditional music.

“Fortunately, in recent times, there’s been an upsurge of interest in traditional music, which links in with the significant changes happening in Scotland on a political, cultural and community level.”

Francis said: “We were asked to write a song that took something from Burns as a starting point. The line ‘pibroch, sang, strathspey and reel’ from Amang the Trees jumped out at me, and somehow the more famous line ‘ye see yon birkie caad a lord’ got tangled up with it and a bit of Jeremy Corbyn’s travails. It’s yet another example of how Burns’s insights speak very much to our present condition.”

There’s Some Wad Say is now being arranged for choirs by the community choir director Ali Burns in time to be taught at five harmony singing workshops in locations around Scotland in January 2016.

Campbell, and Scottish musician Eilidh Mackenzie, will lead the workshop that is to take place in Drumnadrochit, in the Highlands, on Sunday, 24 January 2016.

Click here for more information on Mairi and Eilidh’s workshop


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