Great Scot! All about Waulking or Milling Frolics

I thought I would start this week off looking at a very specific type of Scottish song associated with the waulking of cloth.  It is only in Scotland (and by migration to Nova Scotia) that waulking became closely associated with traditional Gàidhlig songs. Women used the rhythmic songs to both help them in their work and also to pass the time more enjoyably.

Waulking (also known as fulling) is the process in making cloth where it is beaten to make it thicker and water resistant (especially needed in Scotland). Fulling mills were introduced in medieval times but in many more remote and self-sufficient areas, the process continued to be done by hand up into the 20th century. As part of the exodus of Highland Scots during the Clearances after the failed uprising in 1745, the process was carried to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in the new world where the process became known as milling.  There are still milling frolics held today in an effort to maintain old traditions.

A short explanation of milling:

For those of an Outlandish persuasion, Diana Gabaldon does a great scene describing waulking in Dragonfly in Amber: Continue reading

Gàidhlig music recommendation for February 21, 2014 – Cathy Ann MacPhee and Mary Jane Lamond – Celtic Colours 2011

I thought this would be a very interesting selection today.  It is a recording from the Celtic Colours International Festival featuring Cape Breton artist Mary Jane Lamond and Scottish singer Cathy Ann MacPhee.  What is fascinating to me is that they both sing the same song in the way in which they learned it. It shows how the song has evolved and changed on its journey from Scotland across the sea to Cape Breton. There is about a minute of dialogue before they actually start singing but I thought it was too interesting to cut out.  I hope you enjoy!

Cathy Ann MacPhee and Mary Jane Lamond – Celtic Colours 2011

I have been to the Celtic Colours International Festival and it is a wonderful experience for music lovers. It brings together artists from all over the world to various venues over nine days in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  For more information, you can see the Celtic Colours International Festival website.