About Traditional Arts

What is Tradition?

Tradition [noun] – 1 [mass noun] The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.

Tradition may flow from the past, but it moves, changes and adapts as it does so.

• It does not belong in the past
• It does not hark back to a time now gone and lament its passing
• It does not shut out the realities of modern living

For Hamish Henderson, one of Scotland’s greatest thinkers and creators of modern times, tradition is a carrying stream, flowing through time and picking up new ideas on its way.

Tradition is not a stagnant, moribund memory. Instead it’s constantly being reshaped and renewed.

Traditional practitioners listen and respond to that which has gone before, yet enjoy the freedom to move it forward on their own terms. They know its roots, but roots are not tethers. They do not bind us to the past, but rather feed, nourish and allow new growth.

And the traditional arts of Scotland today have plenty of growth. Our artists and creators who are working within the traditional idiom – singers, instrumentalists, composers, storytellers, dancers, choreographers – have plenty to say about the big issues of modern life.

They speak of humanity and cruelty, war and peace, morality and love, work and place, family and environment, nation and community. They flow from firm local roots looking outwards and forwards, not inwards and backwards.

Traditional Music

Discover Scotland’s strong and distinct music heritage, alongside a rich song culture in Scots and Gaelic.

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Traditional Dance

Scotland is known world-wide for its dance traditions, but there’s a lot more under the surface than kilts and ceilidhs.

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Traditional Storytelling

A unique human skill and one of our oldest artforms, storytelling brings words to life, stimulates the imagination and builds community.

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