Welcome to the website and blog where I share ideas and information about the research project–Understanding Scotland Musically. My name is Simon McKerrell and I am a Lecturer in Music at the International Centre for Music Studies at Newcastle University where this fellowship is based: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/sacs/music/.

This research aims to develop new understandings of how contemporary traditional music is used in the construction of Scottish identity both in performance and through the media.

Devolution in the UK, and the rapid expansion of the New Europe have led to a rise of importance of regional and national identities within the context of globalization of musical communities. What was once considered kitsch tartanry has been re-mythologized and now hybrid sounds from Scottish musicians portray a newer, emergent sense of national identity. Increasingly, musicians are performing deterritorialized and commodified music which is shifting attention away from musical provenance and authentic ideology towards more transient sonic identities and blurring established musical genres. These changes have powerfully altered Scottish music and identity and this research will investigate how Scottishness is performed in, and as, traditional music at this crucial moment in the public life of an increasingly (dis)United Kingdom. This project therefore aims to provide a nuanced understanding of the musical politics of identity, and to influence policy makers and key stake holders in challenging older mythologies and representing newly defined regions and minorities in the UK as a whole.

Here are the basic research questions I am interested in:

  • How is contemporary traditional music used in the construction of identities in contemporary Scotland?
  • How are these identities constructed as discourse around music, and music-as-discourse?
  • What are the implications of changing Scottish musical identities for national and regional music policies within a changing political context?

The project will run throughout 2014, and I am keen to hear from you and your points of view on Scottish traditional music or Scottishness, and the discourses that construct those ideas. If you’d like to get in touch please email me at simon [dot] mckerrell [at] ncl.ac.uk, or please leave a reply.

Here is a link to my personal webpages which detail mostly performing, research and recording projects: https://sites.google.com/site/simonmckerrell/home.

Simon McKerrell.