Folk music refers to traditional music that was originally passed down by ear through each new generation instead of being noted down. Folk music in the UK is centuries old, and has been collected and written down since the 17th century. In the past, folk music had some dangers of disappearing but a folk revival in the 1950s sparked a new interest in folk music by combining it with pop influences.
'Skye Waulking Song', sung by the band Capercaillie, is an example of celtic fusion. 'Celtic' is folk music from Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Celtic fusion refers to folk music that has been combined with elements of pop music.
Capercaillie is a Scottish band that got together in school to play local folk dance music. They started recording in 1984 and have since created modern arrangements of many traditional folk songs, including waulking songs.
Waulking is the name given to the process of pounding tweed cloth against a wooden board to make it softer and more airtight. Waulking was carried out by Scottish women up until the 1950s. The process took many hours and whilst the women were working they would sing waulking songs.
Waulking songs helped the women move in time with eachother and also enlivened their work. Waulking songs were usually in call - and - response form: the call sang by a solo singer and the response by everyone else.
Skye Waulking Song
Skye Waulking Song is from Capercaillie's album Nadurra and was released in 2000. The text of the song was taken from a long lament called 'John, Son of the King of Ireland' which takes over an hour to perform from start to finish. It's also in Gaelic.
Instrumentation and Texture
The layered texture is created by:
Rhythmic patterns on the drum kit;
A bass line played by a bass guitar;
Chords played on the accordian and synthesiser;
Main melody line sung by singer;
Countermelodies played by other melody instruments including (violin, Wurlitzer piano, uilleann pipes and bouzouki).
Three unusual instruments in this piece are:
Wurlitzer piano - a type of early electric piano
Uilleann pipes - like bagpipes but with a softer tone
Bouzouki - A type of lute from Greece
Instrumentation and Texture (2)
In the score:
'N.C' stands for 'no chords' - this is where the accompaniment drops out
The words 'with modulation' means that modulation is applied to the bouzouki, making it have a fluctuated pitch (like vibrato).
The first chord of the sung is a cluter chord - this a chord whose notes are next to eachother.
The vocal line alternates between four different phrases (each lasts one bar) in a call - and - response form:
Phrase 1: Call (in Gaelic, starts on a high D)
Phrase 2: Refrain (vocables, starts on a mid B)
Phrase 3: Call (in Gaelic, startes on a low D)
Phrase 4: Refrain (vocables, startes on a high E)