Songs of the Sea

The Mermaid

Songs of the Sea Programme

Songs of the Sea Programme


These pieces came about as a response to the Scottish Centres of Excellence invitation to composers to write a ten-minute piece suitable for performance in their establishments.  Special mention was made of the possibilities of using traditional instruments that are studied in the centres including flute, harp, accordion and bagpipes As these instruments have strong associations with the folklore and traditions of Scotland, I felt compelled to write something that was reflective of that part of our musical culture. I have selected ‘the sea’ as my focus. I have always been interested in the ballade as a form of entertainment, from my time spent singing early music.   As I was introduced to more of these songs through folk music, I realised that this was a very rich source of culture and entertainment that spanned everything from the more serious tragedy of Greek proportions to something more akin to the “soap opera” of the day.The Mermaid was my attempt to write something similar to Romeo and Juliet in the tragic mistiming of a romance between a fisherman and a mermaid. It is mythological in flavour, hence the use of evocative instrumentation such as the Celeste. The singer narrates the romance of Davie and the mermaid: the chorus is a comment on the unfolding story.