COVID19 and ‘Triall’: recording the experiences of the Scottish Musical Community

Mostly, this blog concentrates on the kind of ‘history’ that feels like it sits in the past.  However, history is still happening; and the last few years seem to have thrown a lot of raw history at all of us.

Music can play a role in helping people to manage living through changing times, as well as carrying the marks of remembrance for a period of trauma. Music can act therapeutically to provide consolation for loss; and constructively, helping us to reflect on new ways of being in the world, while connecting the remembered past with our aspirations for the future.

However, during the 2 years of the COVID19 pandemic, many in Scotland – musicians and listeners alike – wondered how Scottish music could recover from a period when live music was impossible.

One recent musical project has set out to explore how musical traditions and practice might survive lockdown.  “Triall’ took Gaelic singer Mary Ann Kennedy on a journey through Scottish communities and their musicians.  Commissioned by St Andrews Voices (the annual voice festival hosted by the University of St Andrews) in 2021, and involving both Kennedy and production company Watercolour Music, “Triall” set out to explore and record the experiences of many musicians as Scotland was moving from lock-down silence into tentative reengagement with live music. Interviews were conducted around Scotland in both Scots/English and Gaelic, and the resulting film was broadcast by BBC Alba on 29th September and 2nd October 2022.

Interviewees included many well-known Scottish musicians and broadcasters, and performance as well as conversation.  For those interested in contemporary history, this project represents a crucial snapshot for the archives of a point when many wondered if Scottish music would survive the pandemic.

If the program is no longer available to you via BBC On-Demand (a 60 day limit may apply), it should be available online for those who have access to the Box of Broadcasts package.

Featured Image: “Covid19: 2m apart”, from ‘Community, Covid-19, Challenge and Change’, Policy Scotland, University of Glasgow, accessed 19 October 2022

Further Reading / Viewing

  • BBC iplayer, ‘Triall’, broadcast 9pm 29 September 2022
  • Box of Broadcasts, ‘Triall’, 21:00 02/10/2022, BBC Alba, 60 mins. (citation accessed 19 Oct 2022)
  • Mary Ann Kennedy’s website, ‘Triall’ post.
  • Watercolour Music


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