James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

I have an old copy of James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinst, scanned into PDF format, if anyone wants a copy, PM me your email.

This has tunes from the Harp & Claymore, Logie Hirn, & Elgin collections.

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Sounds like a classical violinist who hasn’t a clue about fiddling. Each note is a separate bow, not much lift, little ornamentation. Very four-square. Very accurate, on the beat, etc, but not my cup of tea.

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Cocus, that sums up JSS.

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

"James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist"

It’s a bit of a giveaway, no?

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

to OP:
I’m interested but don’t see a way to send you a PM.
Please PM me from my member info.
Thx

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Skinner learned his fiddling in as traditional a way as you could imagine - as a boy, from Peter Milne. Seems that Milne (a lifelong drug addict) got Skinner as a boy to fetch him his opium supply from the chemists in the nearest town. Probably not that different from the milieu of "Winter’s Bone", and not a lot like the musical education of, say, Liz Carroll or Martin Hayes.

Skinner could play in several different styles (as most contemporary fiddlers can). What the heck is classical about the clip labelled "Devil in the Kitchen" on that link? (If it’s the tune I know by that name, it’s been so weirdly folk-processed I can’t recognize it any more).

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

I don’t care what his playing was like. His compositions are absolutely amazing.

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

I play a lot of his stuff when not in the mood for the usual.
I love playing his strathspeys and slow airs, especially Corgraff Castle. I heard a Winston Fitzgerald recording of it, lots of ornamatation and just lovely.

Mary

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Mary, I think you mean Corgarff Castle.

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Do we know how, say, The Flowers of Edinburgh, was played during the 19th century ? Would a traditional player then have said "Sounds like a classical violinist who hasn’t a clue about fiddling" . An opinion which, as a consumer of 20th century traditional music, I understand.

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Thanks Cocus, that exactly what I meant.

Mary

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Dr. Dow

< I don’t care what his playing was like. His compositions are absolutely amazing.>

Now that said it all, for me …

jim,,,

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Love a copy. Send to cboody at mchsi.com

As to the playing style: Surely judging him be Irish standards would be inappropriate. I hear quite a bit of Alasdair Fraser there, and other contemporary Scottish players.

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Scott Skinner must have been quite a character - I’d like to read his autobiography. I wonder who has his fiddle now? - it was a 1690 Andrea Guarneri, and it sold on his death in 1927 for £78 (the price of a high-end banjo at the time)

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Interesting. So is that recording of The Flowers of Edinburgh how he, or others at the time, played for dancing ? And would it have been different when he wasn’t having to make a needle cut wax ?

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Sounds like a classical violinist who hasn’t a clue about fiddling. Each note is a separate bow, not much lift, little ornamentation."

Clueless! As Jack Campin said, Skinner was taught the traditional art of Strathspey-playing by travelling fiddler Peter Milne "The Tarland Minstrel". Technical ability was quite common among traditional fiddlers in Scotland, and as in Ireland many of the players could also play some light Classical music (Néillidh Boyle and John Doherty, to name just two, are Irish examples). And as fiddle music became more and more cleaned up and classicized in Scotland, Scott Skinner’s style was regarded as too unrefined and rough, too peasant-like for popular consumption. So for years his recordings were unavailable (until a couple of years ago when a CD of his recordings was released). His remarkable student James F. Dickie also played in the same North-East style and has yet to make it to CD. As increasingly in Ireland, a cleaned up less-than-traditional style is increasingly in favour, and many younger players and many, many ‘fiddle’ teachers have some (typically not much) classical training (Paddy Glackin for example) and the effect is commonly to the detriment of the old style of playing. If you’re not a fan of Scott Skinner perhaps Scottish traditional music (at least of the North-East style) is not for you!
http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=james%20scott%20skinner%20AND%20mediatype%3Aaudio

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Topic issued an lp of Scott Skinner’s recordings during the 70s. His music was not wholly unavailable.

Posted .

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

True, but it’s been impossible to find for years and years. James F. Dickie’s recordings were released in the 1970s too but it quickly became been hard to find.

The text describing James F. Dickie’s style from the comments in James F Dickie’s Delights (from The Music Gatherer blog) are quite telling with regard to the current attitude to the traditional way of playing:

“His style is very much of the James Scott Skinner mode, and therefore doesn’t always fit in with how our modern ears perceive fiddle music, but you can hear that Dickie was an extremely accomplished player, even if these recordings were made when he was past his prime (Dickie was performing at the turn of the twentieth century with other fiddlers and his brother John, a champion tin whistler). At the very least, this is a document of a bygone style of North-East fiddling.”

In Ireland too there are many who prefer their music less raucous, less wild, (and rather less traditional) than the music played by the older generation. They prefer a cleaned-up music to the old, traditional styles of playing.

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

Well I picked up a copy not so long ago on ‘the bay’ So hard to find, not impossible! 🙂

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

‘In Ireland too there are many who prefer their music less raucous, less wild, (and rather less traditional) than the music played by the older generation. They prefer a cleaned-up music to the old, traditional styles of playing.’

That’s not something I find, to be honest. Describing the older generation as ‘raucous’ doesn’t betray a great insight in traditional Irish fiddle music either I think.

Posted .

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

I did NOT describe "the older generation as ‘raucous’". I referred to those who "prefer their music less raucous…"
This means they like less rough playing (I meant the same thing by "cleaned-up" playing), they like music that is ‘insipid and genteel’, which is what Scott Skinner warned against. At least read my actual words, reading is SO important!

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

While on the subject of correct reading: where was it again I said that you said said as much?

Describing a desire for ‘less raucous’ playing than that of the older generation does automatically assume the playing of that same generation has at least a ‘raucous element, don’t you think?

As I pointed out before, I don’t find much evidence of the desire for ‘less raucous’ music in Ireland. Nor do I think the older generation in general had a particular raucous element.
A certain wildness, certainly. Refinement and attention to detail, that too. Just to put that into perspective, thinking of ‘the older generation’ Patrick Kelly, John Kelly, Paddy Canny, Martin Rochford, Joe Ryan, Bobby Casey, Junior Crehan, Paddy Fahy, Aggie Whyte, Padraig O Keeffe, Denis Murphy etc would be the first that I’d think of. Killoran, Coleman, Lad O Beirne too, on second thought. Nothing too raucous there as far as I am concerned.

Posted .

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

You have clearly mastered making lists, well done!

“Describing the older generation as ‘raucous’ doesn’t betray a great insight in traditional Irish fiddle music either I think”

This implies that I described the older generation as raucous, this is pretty clear, especially when followed by the insult (else to whom was the insult directed?)

Good grief, if the modern ear of the pub-session-goers thinks something less raucous then, the players are taken to be somewhat raucous in their playing (perhaps to some minimal degree). Let’s use ‘harshness’ or ‘roughness’ if you prefer, to describe an element of the wildness of the old style: a fondness for some dissonance and a clear renunciation of evenness of tone (these two elements are lacking in much contemporary Irish playing.) Many of the players on your list clearly exhibit this trait in their playing. The wildness (and also the refinement of rhythm) of the older generation is certainly lacking in many well-known and popular players. This esteem for people who play like this implies that a significant element of the listening public prefer a cleaned-up sound.

Re: James Scott Skinner: Scottish Violinist

He wrote some wonderful tunes. The Left-handed Fiddler is a beauty, as is the Music o’ Spey, which is one of our Burns Night staples. You can do a lot with Hector The Hero too, though the aforementioned chap probably wasn’t as much of a hero as we’d be led to believe! Listen to what Tommy Peoples did with it on The Quiet Glen for example (probably my favourite fiddle album of all time).