THE ROAD TO THE ISLES
THE ROAD TO THE ISLES ON STARFISH ELECTRIC FIDDLE
The Edinburgh Highland Reels and Strathspey Society had a great advantage over many of the fiddle orchestras of the 1970’s and 1980’s as they had James Calder QC
as conductor and arranger – who set the Scottish melodies to orchestral parts.
I joined them in 1969 as their then youngest member and had many great concerts in the various Scottish concert halls such as the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, Caird hall in Dundee and the Albert hall in Perth.
Being of a young and impressionable age – I found myself totally carried away by James Calders orchestration of the famous song the Road to the Isles that sings of the journey to the far Cuillin Mountains of Skye through the rugged scenery and historical places of Scotlands west coast.
Not hearing that arrangement of the road to the Isles ever done again after his passing and passing the baton circa 1980’s I somewhat miss the power of the full orchestra with all string sections giving this one some Wellington boot !!
As an electric fiddle player though – there is a chance to introduce and recreate some of the attitude that those early concerts gave to my life … where the kilted players would come off at half time like marathon runners fiddle and bow in left hand and right hand reaching for the white plastic cups full of whiskey on the long table just off the stage !!
some of the empty white beakers rolling around the floor as they miss the bin ..
this rendition is done primarily by plucking the strings and chording mandolin style with those bowed chops on an acoustic that were part of the spirit of the original arrangement – the ad hoc glassware although sounding a bit newage – I thought was a fair bit Scottish !!
those pictures were taken within the last 3 days !!
Cairngorm mountains, loch ness, Glen Urquhart castle at loch Ness, Dalwhinnie
whiskey distillery, the famous A90 highland road to Inverness at Drummochter Pass, the Commando memorial at Spean Bridge then me doing my Scottish thing at the castle used in the highlander film called Eilean Donan castle near the Kyle of Lochalsh then the Skye bridge and finally the Cuillin Mountains of Skye ... the song is
the road to the isles and sings of the journey through the Highlands to the Cuillins ... though I went by my own route :)
The fiddle patch that sounds rock-like is produced by a mixture of distortion, mellowed out by delay and reverb.