Member Profile: Inside Taigh na Teud

Guest blog by Christine Martin
Taigh na Teud / began publishing Scottish traditional music in 1985 in Tain, Ross- shire. We moved to the Isle of Skye in 1987. Here is the story of how the name originated:

Taigh na Teud / began publishing Scottish traditional music in 1985 in Tain, Ross- shire. We moved to the Isle of Skye in 1987. Here is the story of how the name originated:

On the A9 above the Pass of Killiecrankie there is a house called Tigh na Geat which is a corrupt spelling of the old name “Taigh na Teud” or “Harpstring House”. This was said to mark not only the centre of Scotland but also the farthest extent of the influence of the MacDonalds, the Lords of the Isles as they claimed taigh is leth Alba(a house and half of Scotland) and this was the house that marked the boundary. The house is still in existence and is near Killiecrankie.

In the 16th Century it was reputed to be the place where Scottish harpers gathered to play tunes and socialise.  Mary Queen of Scots played the harp and when she broke a string as she was passing by the harpers’ gathering place she called in to get a new one. It has been called Taigh na Teud or the house of the harp-string ever since. This is said to be a true story.

We liked the history of the name and decided to call our company after it as our first products were the Taigh na Teud harp cassette and book by Christine Martin.

We produced our first fiddle book in 1986 inspired by the fiddle club in Tain which Ian MacBeth and I started to run for adults and young people.  It was my job to find the music for each weekly practice. So I made up the new sets and soon people outwith the club were asking for a copy and that is when I decided to print a short run of these tunes in a book – the first Ceòl na Fidhle – Highland Tunes for the Fiddle.

My husband Alasdair helps me run Taigh na Teud and deals with orders and accounts. I have various great people that I have used for years to help me with design work (Ruth Johnston), websites (Ronan Martin) and online data inputting (Becca Nice) for my downloads site which I have been running for the last 4 years.

Most of the book projects I work on take more than a year from start to finish as it is a lot of work for either myself or the authors to collect their material and edit it, typeset, make the book layout and then record the CD to go with it. Often the covers and choosing a title can take a long time to sort out too as this is such an important aspect of the initial appeal.

In recent years we have made some tutor DVDs – fiddle (Sarah Naylor) and accordion (Sandy Brechin) which we also have available as individual downloads (I have put some on Youtube). I think video is an ideal way of distance learning if it is well filmed.

Because I was learning about video and how to do the filming and editing for the DVDs I got really interested in film making and have now made quite a few “shorts”. That is now one of my main hobbies. The other thing I am interested in is Nyckelharpa and I bought one last year after hearing Gavin Pennycook playing it at the Scots Fiddle Festival. I would also like to get a Hardanger fiddle. I just love “ringing strings”!

Sometimes a musician will approach me with an idea for a new book/DVD/CD and this is most welcome. The most recent being John Carnie with the newly released The Scottish Guitar Tutor / Cd and online video files. The book was produced with help from Creative Scotland book fund and has its official launch at the Stonehaven Folk Festival 5-8 July which has a great line-up this year.   Fraya Thomsen‘s Puirt Ura -a three book series of new harp tunes is also a recent release and was launched at The Edinburgh International Harp Festival at Easter.

I get a lot of lovely feedback about my books and other material and it is very encouraging to know people enjoy what I have produced. I sell to all ages and to people all over the world from learners to advanced players and it is always exciting to produce a new book.

If any of the Traditional Music Forum members have good book or other music development ideas I am always interested in talking to them about it.

The next book to be printed will be launched in July at Ceolas, in South Uist.  Dr William Lamb is launching his bookPuirt a Beul – The Vocal Dance Music of the Scottish Gaels – a very interesting book with lots of songs/fiddle tunes and valuable background to the material.  The most recent books I have done of my own were Horo Gheallaidh Volume 4 and A’ Cheud Cheum a beginner’s harp book collection.

So you can see we have a varied life in this business and there is always something interesting on the go at Taigh na Teud!