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GRACE BANKS - A Puckle O Sangs

GRACE BANKS - A Puckle O Sangs
Aberdeen University Press ISBN: 9781857520354

“Designed for performers, teachers, and all those interested in the oral tradition, culture and social history of Scotland”, A Puckle O’ Sangs is a simple and delightful concept – albeit the product of considerable labour. Grace Banks, in conjunction with the Scottish Cultural and Traditions Association, has compiled 45 songs from various singers around Aberdeen and North East Scotland. The ensuing book consists of their lyrics, musical notation, and some historical and personalised notes on the reasons for each song being selected. Two accompanying CDs have the individual singers performing their chosen song.

There are traditional songs, e.g. Can Ye Sew Cushions, Lady Franklin’s Lament; Bonny Bessie Logan; songs in dialect e.g. The Burnin’ O’ Auchindoon; bothy ballads e.g. Bogie’s Bonnie Belle; chorus songs e.g. Bonnie Dundee, The Mingulay Boat Song; some well known songs e.g. Both Sides The Tweed; and some fairly new compositions e.g. Generations Of Change.

Recordings were made in various places echoing the “tradition” of capturing songs where their singers could be found. The singing, divided between women and men, is largely solo, mostly unaccompanied and unadorned, and with natural variations. However, Loch Lomond stands out as a beautiful harmony piece.

A Puckle O’ Sangs is an inspiring and accessible collection of Scottish songs. The book and CDs offer a wealth of material and encouragement for any aspiring singers, as well as an excellent resource for students of song structure. With Grace Banks’s exhortation to “Please take these songs and sing them,” the tradition is passed on.

Jim McCourt


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This album was reviewed in Issue 112 of The Living Tradition magazine.