A Variety of Music in Scotland by Erin Steinberg

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Top of Arthur’s Seat.

Music is a universal thing; it is everywhere, all around you. It is and has been very important part of my whole life; first, with dance (you can’t dance very easily without music to help you tell the story), and then after dance, it became a big part of my life through going to concerts and learning how to play the acoustic guitar, among other reasons. While over in the United Kingdom, I started paying particular attention to the music over here to see if there were any differences. In Dublin, Cardiff, and London, they do play a lot of the same popular music as in the United States, which I honestly was not that surprised about. What I was surprised about, however, was that when we came to Scotland, they play a huge variety over here.

I was expecting to walk into a pub and hear popular top of the charts music in Scotland like I did in all of the other parts in the United Kingdom, but I came to find out that that was kind of rare over here. The first pub I ate lunch at played what sounded to me like French music. Maybe it was not French, but it definitely was not English and it definitely was not anything that I had ever heard before. Other places that I visited played music that I had heard of before, but most of it was music that was much older. Many pubs and public places played songs that maybe my parents would listen to, which was very surprising to me. Though, some places did play music that I knew. One of the places we went out to one night played music that was popular in the United States maybe about ten years ago. Those songs that come on the radio once in awhile and people say, “wow, I have not heard this song on forever!” or “this is a throwback!”
I have also come to find that the Scottish are very into their local music scene. There was a music festival (that unfortunately the only day I was able to go it got cancelled due to bad weather [typical rainy Scotland]) that from what I saw when looking at the bios of some of the bands were all Scottish. I feel like that would have been an interesting experience to go to an actual Scottish music festival and see what it is like here compared to back home, considering I go to music concerts and festivals back home all the time. I wish I could have gone and been able to compare, but from what I heard and read about the festival, it seemed to me like it would be something very similar to the Vans Warped Tour or the Mo Pop Festival that we have back home. However, Warped Tour travels the country and is not solely American music; some of the bands that play on it are actually from the UK!
One of the bands that played at the Scottish Music Festival: Sea Bass Kid
Along with the local music festival, we all know Scotland is known for their bagpipes. I, however, did not really think that I would see an actual live bagpiper (is that what they are called?) But, low and behold, I came across one, and it was very awesome. It was very much like seeing someone on the street of Chicago or New York out with their guitar playing and singing for money, but with bagpipes! However, similar to the United States, I did also walk by a young man singing and playing guitar on the street for money. This is something I came across in Rome, London, and Dublin, as well, so it is definitely something that happens everywhere, probably because music is so universal and like in the United States, people are trying to make a living doing something they love, and somehow that is the only way to get your name and your talent out there.
A man playing the bagpipes, like what I saw on the street.
Though, in Scotland, I did not hear as much “Top 40” hits, there were still some places that played them. The main one being a place right across from where we were staying called “The Bar”. They played a channel on the television that you could compare to an MTV type channel that played all the hits. I knew almost every single song that was played, most of them were songs that are currently popular or were becoming popular over in the U.S. when I was heading over here. So, American “Top 40” hits are still played and I am guessing still are pretty popular over here in Scotland, just not to the extent that I would have expected.
One other really cool and different thing I found out about music in Scotland is their record and/or music stores. I went to a couple here and a lot of it, for the most part, was local Scottish music, or lesser known indie music, which I thought was very interesting. One of the places we went to actually had about half the store that was just for local Scottish music. Other parts of it were sections dedicated to music from all over the world. There honestly was not a whole lot of popular music in it at all (though I did find a Sam Smith vinyl and bought a Mumford & Sons cd, who are two are my favorite artists, and actually both from the United Kingdom, so that excited me!).
I think the main thing I have really noticed, not just in Scotland, but in the UK as a whole, is that anywhere you walk into, you will most likely hear music playing. I learned once that a lot of places in the United States will not play music in their facility due to copyright laws (that is why where I used to work does not), but over here, music is playing in every store, every restaurant, even in the grocery stores, and I think that is wonderful. Music is food for the soul and makes people feel all kinds of different emotions, and no matter what genre it is, I have been very happy to hear it all over Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole.

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