Young Trad Musician of the Year entries / Make Music Day / Taorluath a-Mach query


Entries are invited for the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award 2021.

The competition is for singers or instrumentalists aged between 16 and 27 with a passion for traditional music. Winners receive a recording session with BBC Radio Scotland, a performance at the Scots Trad Music Awards, an invite to partipate in the TMSA’s annual Young Trad Tour and membership of the Musicians’ Union. The 2020 award was won by Easter Ross piper, Ali Levack.

The final will be broadcast live from the City Halls in Glasgow on January 31, 2021 as part of the Celtic Connections festival.

Information on entering can be found at Entries close at midnight on June 25, 2020.

Musicians and singers of all ages, skill levels, and persuasions are invited to participate in a global celebratory performance of one of Scotland’s must popular songs.

Auld Lang Syne has been specially arranged by Scottish musician and composer, Hamish Napier for the Make Music Day UK project. Burns’ classic song acknowledges the importance of friendship and human connection. It is renowned the world over yet remains quintessentially Scottish yet it has always been a source of regret to pipers that it doesn’t fit on Scotland’s national instrument. Despite Mr Napier’s arrangement only catering to pianists, guitarists and singers, organisers nevertheless hope pipers will submit their own rendition and they will be included in the project.

Alison Reeves, the Scotland Development Project Manager for Make Music Day UK said: “There has been a huge outpouring of Scottish music making on social media over the past months, and the Auld Lang Syne project will capture the wealth and diversity of people playing and singing together from their own homes. [Auld Lang Syne] is sung across the world and the message of friendship is perfect for celebrating how music connects us across our community, nationally and globally.”

Renditions are to be submitted digitally by June 5 to and the full musical collage video will be unveiled on Make Music Day on June 21. Full details here:

Make Music Day began in France in 1982 and takes place on June 21 – the summer solstice – every year.

The subject of how to play correctly the Taorluath a-Mach movement has been put to us recently by a leading solo piping competitor in lockdown who writes:

“Since being home with plenty of time on my hands I’ve been listening to loads of recordings of pipers (past and present) and reading loads of books/articles on piobaireachd. I was originally taught to play the taorluath a-mach movement as a B to B Grip (or C) followed by an E gracenote on B/C in one flowing movement (five syllables). However, I have found almost no players (bar a couple) playing this way nor any teachers advocating this method. Instead, they are playing a straight up B to B taorluath (four syllables). This, to me, doesn’t seem to follow.

Our correspondent writes: “On the left is the way we hear the movement played nowadays. The Campbell Canntaireachd for this is ‘hiodaro’ which means this is one syllable short. On the right is how I was originally taught to play the movement. The Canntaireachd for this is ‘hiotroeo’ and it does follow what is demonstrated in the Canntaireachd.”

“A standard taorluath movement has three syllables and the crunluath five syllables. The crunluath a-mach has seven syllables featuring a grip followed by open ‘dre’. So why does the taorluath a-mach not follow this pattern? It should have two syllables less than than the crunluath a-mach, 5, hence B to B grip follow by an E gracenote on B. The Campbell Canntaireachd tells us exactly this: hiotroeo. But players playing the B to B taorluath for their a-mach are playing hiodaro. This is not what is demonstrated in the CC and the rhythm, in my inexpert opinion is wrong. Any clues?”

It’s an interesting question. Certainly, generations ago, taorluaths used to be written with redundant low As with the same applying to the a-Mach. However, that way of playing became, if you’ll pardon the pun, redundant quite some time ago with Robert Reid, (pictured) possibly the last prominent piper to be play that way.

We would point our correspondent, who wishes to remain anonymous, and others to Book 1 of the Piobaireachd Society’s collection which shows the abbreviation at the bottom of the page 8 (pictured) where The Finger Lock is set. Other examples of tunes that include a taorluath a-mach are The Bells of Perth, The Vaunting, Cave of Gold, The Desperate Battle of the Birds and Lament for the Union etc.

For further reference, the National Piping Centre’s piobaireachd tutor also has the movement written clearly.