Some years ago, I was getting to know and to love the traditional music of Cornwall - including those fairly ancient tunes associated with the feast days of Cornish towns. Bodmin Riding, Liskeard Fair and Helston's Hal an Tow all seemed somehow different from other Celtic music I knew from Ireland or Scotland and were intangibly stamped with a sense of Cornishness. In parallel, I was becoming increasingly saddened by Scilly's lack of any surviving indigenous traditional music. Was this the payback for Scilly's longstanding cosmopolitan atmosphere? Being sited at the junction of several major international shipping routes, and being garrison throughout much of post-medieval history has made Scillonian society uncharacteristically open, tolerant and diverse for such a remote community. I took to wondering what might have been sung and played in the pubs and churches of Scilly in previous centuries. A rich melting pot of songs in different languages? Breton bagpipe tunes? Russian dances? Scandinavian fiddle airs? Or was there instead a rich treasury, now lost, of identifiably Scillonian local music?
The word 'blog' is not pleasing. It sounds like someone being sick. (Blogging’s sadistic video cousin - 'Vlogging' - is a similarly grim coinage, prompting filmic images in the mind's eye of futuristic dystopian pistol-whipping robots taking revenge on the entire whimpering human race.) I shan't be vlogging anything in the near future, but blogging I have decided to make peace with in an effort to share with you the extraordinarily vibrant music and poetry inspired by a few tiny specks of granite and sand in the wide Atlantic.
I will be blogging up a fortnightly series of articles and posts dedicated to the Isles of Scilly and the creativity that the islands inspire. Scilly is an extraordinary place - that much is a commonplace. The loyal band of regular visitors who return each year, like migrating swallows heading south on instinct, know this absolutely. The islands attract extraordinary people - navigating towards a place that is beyond the horizon; a place that is remote, beautiful and other-worldly; a place inhabited (and visited) by the independent, the creative and the soulful. A place that is, above all, cool.
Author - Piers Lewin
I am a musician and writer living on the Isles of Scilly. These articles and posts explore music, poetry and creativity inspired by the landscape and culture of the islands.