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The Art of Strathspey Playing

Learn tips and tricks of this most quintessential of Scottish tune types

The Art of Strathspey Playing is a series of lessons looking at the techniques one can employ on the fiddle to play strathspeys.

It will delve into the history of the strathspey and its key protagonists over the years, including Skinner and Marshall as well as some newer strathspeys penned in Scotland and Cape Breton in Canada.

This series of lessons will be pitched at the intermediate to advanced player, although improving learners may find some of the tips and lessons attainable.

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Alistair McCulloch

Your Tutor - Alistair McCulloch

Alistair McCulloch hails from Ayr in Scotland and is one of the country’s best known fiddle performers, teachers and composers with many appearances on radio and television. Past winner of many fiddle championships, Alistair is fiddle instructor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
The Alistair McCulloch Trio features Aaron Jones of Old Blind Dogs, and former Capercaillie whistle wizard Marc Duff. His playing has seen him confirmed “as one of the finest fiddlers and composers of his generation” by The Living Tradition.

Lessons in the Course

Click on a lesson to be taken to it (you must be a subscriber)

Alistair McCulloch - Fiddle Tutor
Fiddle

Introduction to the Strathspey

Alistair McCulloch briefly discusses the strathspey, its history and some of the key protagonists.   This Post is only available to subscribed members. Login

Alistair McCulloch
Fiddle

The Iron Man

Alistair McCulloch introduces us to the first of his strathspeys in this series, the classic “The Iron Man” by the Strathspey King, James Scott Skinner.   This Post is only available to

Fiddle
Fiddle

Lord Seaforth

Next, Alistair teaches us a strathspey from the Atholl Collection, with a sightly softer tonality with it being in the key of G Major.   This Post is only available to subscribed

violin scroll on music
Fiddle

The North Side of the Grampians

Alistair’s next tune is one in C Major from the Knockie Collection of Highland Music compiled by Simon Fraser in the 18th Century.   This Post is only available to subscribed members.

fiddle on side
Fiddle

John Stephen of Chance Inn

The next strathspey to be taught by Alistair is a more contemporary one written by Angus Fitchett of Dundee.   This Post is only available to subscribed members. Login

violin scroll on music
Fiddle

JH Mackenzie of Garrynahine

Alistair looks at his first pipe strathspey written by Pipe Major Willie Ross, focusing on producing pipe ornaments to add colour to the piece.   This Post is only available to subscribed

fiddle picture
Fiddle

The Marquis of Huntly

Alistair turns his attention to the 18th century and a challenging strathspey written by one of the most famous composers of the strathspey, William Marshall.   This Post is only available to

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Fiddle

Miss Douglas

Alistair continues his series of strathspeys by looking at a gentile 18th century one from the pen of prolific composer, Robert Mackintosh.   This Post is only available to subscribed members. Login

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Fiddle

Alex Dan MacIsaac

Alistair looks at a popular, yet challenging Strathspey from Cape Breton that he learnt from the playing of the late Jerry Holland.   This Post is only available to subscribed members. Login

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Fiddle

Roseness

Next up in Alistair’s series on Strathspeys is one from Orkney from the pen of Ronnie Aim, which is named after a landmark there.   This Post is only available to subscribed

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Fiddle

Lady Charlotte Campbell

Alistair next looks at another style of strathspey – the slow strathspey. This piece is written by one of the strathspey masters – Robert Mackintosh.   This Post is only available to

Music notes in the sky
Fiddle

Cathkin Braes

Alistair turns his attention to a strathspey which uncommonly has 3 parts to it with the 3rd part being in a different key from the first two sections.   This Post is

fiddle in case
Fiddle

The Antonov An-225

This time Alistair teaches one of his own tunes named after the world’s largest plane, the Antonov An-225 and written in B Minor, an uncommon key for a strathspey.   This Post

violin scroll on music
Fiddle

Earl Grey

The next strathspey Alistair teaches is one of his favourites written by James Hill of Gateshead, who was more known for writing hornpipes.   This Post is only available to subscribed members.

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Fiddle

Captain Campbell

Alistair’s penultimate strathspey in his series focuses on one very popular on the session scene; one to enhance your repertoire for sure!   This Post is only available to subscribed members. Login

electric fiddle
Fiddle

Series Overview

Alistair completes his series on The Art of the Strathspey by playing all the strathspeys in 5 different sets, displaying all the techniques taught.   This Post is only available to subscribed

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