I couldn’t help but notice this sentence from the obituary for the Chieftains’ fiddler Martin Fay in today’s Guardian:

Although he had a classical training, Fay had a natural understanding of traditional music.

That little word ‘although’ betrays an assumption that being ‘trained’ in one species of music makes it unlikely that you will be fluent in another. The history of the Scottish fiddle tradition certainly suggests that this is not the case: Mackintosh and Scott Skinner are two obvious examples that spring to mind.¬† Note the contrast that the writer here draws between ‘classical training’ and ‘natural understanding’, implying that traditional music skills are innate rather than learned.

One of the aims of our research project is to challenge received notions about the interaction of oral and literate traditions: I think I just stumbled across two!

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