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Scottish trad music is on the rise

New research released by VisitScotland reveals the growing popularity of Scottish traditional music, finding that over a third of Scots (34%) are listening to it more often in the past year.

Scottish trad music is on the rise

Article Source: VisitScotland
Last Updated: 4 March 2024 16:47

Scottish trad music is on the rise - 88% believe it’s a vital part of Scottish culture and heritage.

• New VisitScotland research finds that Scottish traditional music is experiencing a resurgence.

• Over three-quarters (79%) of Scots say they feel a sense of cultural connection when listening to Scottish traditional music.

• The vast majority (88%) believe preserving it is important with 61% expressing interest in supporting efforts to promote and preserve it.

The report, which surveyed 1000 Scottish adults, explores the listening habits of the nation, finding that Scottish trad music is not only surviving, but actively thriving. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed believe the genre is gaining more popularity, and 56% of people stated that they are inclined to listen to more trad music in the future.

Furthermore, many have observed a rise in Scottish Traditional music events in the past year, highlighting a vibrant live music scene. With over 20 trad music festivals this year, including Celtic Connections, Orkney Folk Festival, Edinburgh Tradfest, Shetland Folk Festival, Stonehaven Folk Festival, Ceolas and HebCelt that have even partnered with Isle of Harris Distillery allowing up and coming artists to perform, the music landscape is flourishing.

You can also immerse yourself in the thriving spirit of trad music at various smaller venues and local bars such as MacGregor's Bar in Inverness, Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline, The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool, The Bothy Bar in Kirkwall, The Taybank in Dunkeld, each offering a unique and vibrant setting.
And it's not just about listening—trad music has been making waves in mainstream media too, with 53% of individuals saying they’ve noticed an inclusion of the genre within the media (TV, movies, commercials) and another 35% going as far as saying they’ve been exposed to more Scottish trad music than ever before.

Cultural significance and preserving tradition
Part of the enduring appeal of trad music is that it’s so deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of Scotland, with 88% considering it a vital part of the nation’s culture and heritage. Another 79% say they feel a sense of cultural connection when listening, making trad music not only a cherished art form but also a way to explore the rich history of Scotland's traditions through its melodies and rhythms.

Safeguarding Scottish traditional music is crucial in upholding cultural heritage, as it fosters a sense of national identity and strengthens community bonds, with most Scots (88%) agreeing that preserving it is important. Glasgow, recognized as a UNESCO City of Music, vividly exemplifies the integral role of traditional music in preserving and promoting Scotland's rich musical heritage.
In fact, 84% of respondents argue that by preserving it we ensure that future generations have a connection to their roots and cultural identity, while an additional 82% believe that it fosters a sense of community that brings people together.

A significant 61% of Scots expressed an interest in supporting efforts to promote and preserve traditional music. Interestingly, the enthusiasm is notably higher among younger generations, with Millennials most likely to be expressing interest in such initiatives compared.

The vibrancy of live music
Live music offers a unique and authentic atmosphere, so it’s no surprise that 54% of people say they prefer listening to Scottish traditional music live.
Six in ten people (65%) say they would consider attending a live performance this year, with 49% even saying they would be open to travelling to different parts of Scotland to experience it. Live performances, including festivals like the Orkney Folk Festival, even draw in an international audience as well.

Some of the most popular trad music festivals included Edinburgh Tradfest with 42% of people planning on attending, Celtic Connections (30%) and The Reeling (17%) in Glasgow. On average, people were found to be planning on attending three live Scottish trad music performances this year.

There are abundant opportunities to enjoy trad music live, whether it's at a local bar, a festival, or an event like the Ceilidh Trail, where young musicians from across Scotland perform in various locations throughout the country. Whether a local or a visitor, everyone can immerse themselves in the vibrant and enduring heritage of Scottish traditional music.

Blair Teska, member of Scottish trad band Tuath Scot, comments:
“Scottish Trad Music has experienced a remarkable resurgence of late, captivating audiences spanning multiple generations. It’s not just a trend, it’s a cultural revival. As more artists embrace and contribute to the genre's resurgence, the cultural legacy embedded in Scottish Trad Music is being brought back to life for today's audiences.

The music scene is thriving, evident not only in chart success but also in the rising number of festivals and live music events dedicated to the genre. You can really feel the excitement for it at festivals and live performances, with a growing audience showing a keen interest. There is nothing quite like reaching out to all areas of Scotland with our music and are proud to represent the LGBTQ+ community with the richness and diversity of Scottish Trad Music.
This music acts like a time capsule, connecting our past with our present. Each note and melody serve as a vessel, preserving the stories, traditions, and spirit of Scotland's musical heritage.”


To explore more about the rich history of Scottish trad music and find live events information, please visit: www.visitscotland.com/things-to-do/events/music-festivals/traditional-folk

Image credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

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