Scottish music is a huge part of Scottish culture. Spend any length of time here, a toe-tapping tune, a jovial dance and a hearty sing-a-long is almost a guarantee, and it's rarely a quiet affair.
Traditional Scottish music still reverberates around the country. You'll hear street pipers blast the pipes, energetic fiddle sessions and the gentle melodies of folk songs echoing from inside pubs. So, what happens when you mix our traditional music with a spot of dancing? A proper Scottish night out!
Tune into toe-tapping Scottish songs, visit and experience Glasgow's vibrant music scene, and pick up on Scottish words and what they mean as you travel around the country taking in the welcoming culture.
Scottish bagpipe music
As you travel around Scotland, iconic sounds of the bagpipes will fill the air, and it's likely you'll hear a parade of pipers before you see them. You’ll come across pipers on high streets entertaining passers-by, in parades, at Highland games and during festivities throughout the year in Scotland, as well as at gigs and music festivals.
Bagpipe music has strong connections to Gaelic culture and there are roughly two main styles of music played on the bagpipes, Ceòl Mór and Ceòl Beag. In Gaelic, this means 'big music' and 'little music'. Ceòl Mór includes the pibroch style, a slow, more classical form of traditional bagpipe musical while Ceòl Beag includes things like jigs, reels, strathspeys and slow airs - the type of stuff that gets people on the dance floor.
Many museums and castles tell interesting tales about the pipes amongst their collections, but if you’re really keen to find out more, your first port of call should be the National Piping Centre in Glasgow. Exploring over 300 years of bagpipe history and featuring the oldest surviving chanter of the Highland bagpipe anywhere in the world, the museum at the centre is an excellent place to get acquainted with this iconic musical instrument.
You'll also often here bagpipes and traditional Scottish tunes played on Burns' Night, to celebrate Scotland's National Bard. Why not follow along our Burns' Night Guide and host your own Burns' Supper? Tuck into some delicious food & drink, cook your own haggis and raise a dram of whisky, or two.
Traditional Scottish music
Of course, we love the pipes, but Scottish music comes in several genres and it has played an important part in social and cultural life for generations of Scots. Folk music evenings and traditional music sessions still take place in many pubs around Scotland, where you can often turn up with your instrument of choice and just join in! And of course, there are pleny of trad music festivals and gigs held the length and breadth of the country year round, or maybe you'd prefer to get your toes tapping at a summer music festival.
You’re also likely to hear traditional music played in the streets in many of Scotland’s cities, with buskers entertaining the crowds at all times of the year with stirring renditional of beautiful Scottish folk songs and classical fiddle tunes.
You might hear instruments such as:
- Pipes and chanter
- Clarsach, a Scottish harp
If joining in with a session isn’t enough, then you might want to consider the wide range of events, festivals, workshops and residential courses that take place across Scotland where you can watch and participate in excellent traditional music events.