January 31, 2020

What can we learn from 1784 Scottish cultural politics?

Isla Ratcliff

AudioA Reawakened Monument of Antiquity, 2019

My work explores Scottish cultural politics, of 1784 and of 2019. By combining music from A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs (1784) with quotes from contemporary sources that reveal its cultural-political context, my work gives the listener an insight into the Scottish cultural politics of 1784. The cultural-political issues addressed in each of the six movements are 1) the effects of the Act of Union 1707 on Scottish culture; 2) the desire to preserve tradition; 3) cultural nationalism; 4) emigration; 5) cultural memory; and 6) hope for the future. These issues are prevalent again in 2019, when Scotland is at a cultural-political crossroads in the aftermath of the 2014 and 2016 referenda and in the lead-up to Brexit and potentially another independence referendum. I intend my work to provoke the listener to consider these cultural-political issues, as they apply to both 1784 Scotland and 2019 Scotland, since the way in which we approach these issues today will have a significant impact on our future. We can learn from our 1784 approach; yet at the same time we cannot be stuck in the past, as has been the trend in Scottish cultural politics since the Collection was published 235 years ago.