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Scotchsnap Interview

Posted on 20 September 2008. © Copyright 2004-2020 Composition:Today, the website dedicated to showcasing Scottish composers' music.
Tell us something about your background.

Lorna McDougall and Isabel Paterson are the Directors of

Having studied violin, voice and piano at school, it wasn't until after completing a Business Marketing Degree at Stirling University that Isabel Paterson decided to pursue her love of music and completed a Music Diploma with the Open University.

Isabel teaches on the Black Isle and also performs with the Merlewood Ensemble and the Animato String Quartet. She arranges music for the quartet, particularly in response to requests for wedding ceremonies and other private functions.

Lorna studied cello and piano at the RSAMD and cello at the RCM (post grad). As well as teaching in Ayrshire, London and now the Black Isle, she has enjoyed writing and recording cello and piano music for several singer/ songwriters.

Lorna won the 2006 Inverness Music Festival Open Composition class with 'Inside Out' for unaccompanied cello.

She also currently plays cello with the Animato String Quartet and the chamber group Merlewood Ensemble.

Tell us about, how it was formed, it's raison d'etre

Isabel has written arrangements of popular tunes for the Animato String Quartet which are well received by audiences around Scotland, and Lorna has written a variety of pieces for piano and cello suitable for teaching and performance.

It was the quest to find ways of having our own few pieces published in the traditional hard-copy publishing industry that proved frustrating and quickly evolved into developing our own website,, to promote composers and arrangers of Scottish connection and to make their music available to a world market.

We both live in the Highlands and have a vision to give greater profile to the variety and quality of music that comes from Scotland’s inspiration, whether composers are writing for amateur playing, teaching material or professional performance.

We also want to make pieces (scores and instrumental parts) directly accessible to musicians through the internet via digital download. Using Sibelius software, we offer customers the opportunity to view and listen to music before purchasing and printing to PC. Scores are priced from just 50 pence, making them financially more accessible too.

Many of the pieces seem to have quite a traditional or folk influence. Is this deliberate or just how it's turned out? features a continuously expanding array of music by Scottish composers, from baroque to contemporary classical, jazz, pop and other genres. Music is scored for a wide range of instrumentation from piano solo to orchestral and choral music. We have, of course, a wealth of traditional music too.

Composers profiled on the site span nearly 300 years of Scottish music history. At present we have more traditional music than any other genre, mainly because we have on offer large collections of fiddle music by J Scott Skinner, Niel Gow and sons, Alexander Walker, William Marshall and Captain Simon Fraser. These beautifully typeset editions are transcribed from the original handwritten manuscripts from the National Library of Scotland. We have carefully incorporated the full musical and textual details from the masters themselves.

Reflecting the revival in Celtic music around the globe we have many contemporary composers who add their individual styles to the traditional repertoire. This includes original music and arrangements for fiddle, whistle, harp, pipes, gaelic and Scots song, piano, string quartet and more.

Other than the use of traditional music, do you think there is a distinctively Scottish style of composing, and if so what are its characteristics?

This is an interesting question. We are continually excited to discover each composer’s unique style. In genres other than traditional music however, one would not necessarily find characteristics that define the music as “Scottish”. It is the inspiration, mystery and heart of Scotland, shaped by our history, culture, land- and sea-scape, that creates that indefinable essence in their compositions.

What are your plans going forward?

We launched in June 2007 with 25 composers and now have nearly 70 composers profiled and published on the site, an impressive growth in just over one year. There are many hundreds of musicians writing quality music worthy of publication who might not necessarily consider themselves as “composers”. As Scotland’s premier online publishing platform we want to continue to extend this opportunity to all musicians inspired by Scotland to have their music distributed throughout the global market.

Interview by Composition:Today © Copyright 2004-2020

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