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Waulking songs (Scots Gaelic: Òrain Luaidh) are Scottish folk songs, traditionally sung in the Gaelic language by women while fulling (waulking) cloth. This practice involved a group of women rhythmically beating newly woven tweed against a table or similar surface to soften it. Simple, beat-driven songs were used to accompany the work.
Fulling, also known as tucking or walking, was a step in woollen clothmaking which involves the cleansing of cloth to eliminate oils, dirt, and other impurities, and to make it thicker. The worker who does the job is a fuller, tucker, or walker, all of which have become common surnames. The Welsh word for a fulling mill is pandy, which appears in many place-names, for example Tonypandy.
Occupational segregation is the distribution of workers across and within occupations, based upon demographic characteristics, most often gender. Occupational segregation levels differ on a basis of perfect segregation and integration. Perfect segregation occurs where any given occupation employs only one group. Perfect integration, on the other hand, occurs where each group holds the same proportion of positions in an occupation as it holds in the labor force.
A waulking session often begins with slow-paced songs, with the tempo increasing as the cloth becomes softer. As the singers work the cloth, they gradually shift it to the left so as to work it thoroughly. A tradition holds that moving the cloth anticlockwise is unlucky.
Widdershins is a term meaning to go counter-clockwise, to go anti-clockwise, or to go lefthandwise, or to walk around an object by always keeping it on the left. Literally, it means to take a course opposite the apparent motion of the sun viewed from the Northern Hemisphere. The earliest recorded use of the word, as cited by the Oxford English Dictionary, is in a 1513 translation of the Aeneid, where it is found in the phrase "Abaisit I wolx, and widdersyns start my hair." In this sense, the "to start widdershins" means "to stand on end".
Typically one person sings the verse, while the others join in the chorus. As with many folk music forms, the lyrics of waulking songs are not always strictly adhered to. Singers might add or leave out verses depending on the particular length and size of tweed being waulked. Verses from one song might appear in another, and at times the lead singer might improvise to include events or people known locally. The chorus to many waulking songs consists of meaningless vocables, serving a function similar to 'tra la la' or 'hey hey hey' in other song forms. Some waulking songs have a strict verse-and-chorus structure. In other songs, the vocables are sung at the end of each line of a verse. In a song like 'S Fliuch an Oidhche ('Wet is the Night'), also known as Coisich a Rùin ('Come on, My Love'), the last two lines of one verse become the first two lines of the following one. A tradition holds that it is bad luck to repeat a song during a waulking session, which may explain in part both the many verses of some songs and the large number of songs.
Non-lexical vocables, which may be mixed with meaningful text, are a form of nonsense syllable used in a wide variety of music. A common English example would be "la la la", "na na na" or "da da da".
While fulling is a common practice across the world, it is only in Scotland that music became so strongly associated with it as to become an important cultural feature of the country. Waulking is rare in Scotland today, mostly confined to the Outer Hebrides, where it is carried out as a celebration of heritage. The last true waulking (for the purpose of making cloth) is believed to have occurred during the 1950s.[ citation needed ]
The culture of Scotland refers to the patterns of human activity and symbolism associated with Scotland and the Scottish people. Some elements of Scottish culture, such as its separate national church, are protected in law, as agreed in the Treaty of Union and other instruments. The Scottish flag is blue with a white saltire, and represents the cross of Saint Andrew.
The Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, Innse Gall or the Long Isle or the Long Island, is an island chain off the west coast of mainland Scotland. The islands are geographically coextensive with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, one of the 32 unitary council areas of Scotland. They form part of the archipelago of the Hebrides, separated from the Scottish mainland and from the Inner Hebrides by the waters of the Minch, the Little Minch, and the Sea of the Hebrides. Scottish Gaelic is the predominant spoken language, although in a few areas English speakers form a majority.
During the Highland clearances, traditional methods of waulking spread with the Scottish diaspora. In Nova Scotia, and in particular on Cape Breton Island, waulking is known as milling. Although in Scotland women waulked cloth, in Nova Scotia both men and women took part in milling frolics. The practice continues as a cultural celebration today.
The Scottish diaspora consists of Scottish people who emigrated from Scotland and their descendants. The diaspora is concentrated in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, England, New Zealand, Ireland and to a lesser extent Argentina, Chile and Brazil.
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime Provinces, and one of the four provinces that form Atlantic Canada. Its provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the second-smallest of Canada's ten provinces, with an area of 55,284 square kilometres (21,300 sq mi), including Cape Breton and another 3,800 coastal islands. As of 2016, the population was 923,598. Nova Scotia is Canada's second-most-densely populated province, after Prince Edward Island, with 17.4 inhabitants per square kilometre (45/sq mi).
Cape Breton Island is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America and part of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada.
YouTube is an American video-sharing website headquartered in San Bruno, California. Three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim—created the service in February 2005. Google bought the site in November 2006 for US$1.65 billion; YouTube now operates as one of Google's subsidiaries.
Celtic music is a broad grouping of music genres that evolved out of the folk music traditions of the Celtic people of Western Europe. It refers to both orally-transmitted traditional music and recorded music and the styles vary considerably to include everything from "trad" (traditional) music to a wide range of hybrids.
A work song is a piece of music closely connected to a form of work, either sung while conducting a task or a song linked to a task which might be a connected narrative, description, or protest song.
A cèilidh or céilí is a traditional Scottish or Irish social gathering. In its most basic form, it simply means a social visit. In contemporary usage, it usually involves dancing and playing Gaelic folk music, either at a house party or a larger concert at a social hall or other community gathering place.
"Auld Lang Syne" is a Scots-language poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The international Scouting movement in many countries uses it to close jamborees and other functions.
"Farewell to Nova Scotia" is a popular folk song from Nova Scotia that is a corruption of the 1791 Scottish folk song "The Soldier's Adieu", printed in 1803 in a Glasgow newspaper and attributed to Robert Tannahill. When the song began to be adapted by Nova Scotians is unknown.
"The Skye Boat Song" is a late 19th century Scottish song recalling the journey of Prince Charles Edward Stuart from Uist to the Isle of Skye as he evaded capture by Government troops after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
Catherine-Ann MacPhee is a Scottish Gaelic singer.
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Breandán Ó Madagáin is an Irish scholar, writer and celticist. He is Professor Emeritus and past Chair of Department of Irish, University College Galway, is a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and was Chairman, 1995-2005, of the Board of Celtic Studies in the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
Puirt à beul is a traditional form of song native to Scotland, Ireland, and Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
Long Èireannach is a well known song in the Scottish Gaelic tradition known as Orain Luaidh, or waulking song, a type of work song that is sung by the women when fulling cloth. In Long Èireannach the sweetheart of each girl present is named in turn by the singers as the song proceeds, the whole of the workers taking up the chorus.
Posting or postadh is a term formerly used in Scotland for a process in washing clothes. It means to trample with the feet, or the act of trampling or treading. In scouring woollen clothing, blankets or coarse linen, when the strength of the arms and manual friction are found insufficient, Highland women put them in a tub with a prop – or quantity of water, then, with petticoats tucked up, they began to "post", which they continued until every part of the clothes received an effectual cleansing. When three women were employed, one usually tramped in the middle, and the other two tramped around her. Treading cloth with the feet, a time-consuming and laborious practice, has long been superseded by mechanical methods, starting in the Industrial Revolution.
Daina is the traditional name of vocal folk music in the Baltic languages, and is preserved in Lithuania and Latvia. Lithuanian dainos are often noted not only for their mythological content, but also for relating historical events.
Sean-nós is a highly ornamented style of unaccompanied traditional Irish singing, and in the singing of Ireland's Gaeltacht.
"The Rattlin' Bog" is an Irish folk song. It is a version of an internationally distributed folk song type. In the Roud Folk Song Index it has the number 129, and carries such titles as "The Everlasting Circle," "The Tree on the Hill," "The Green Grass Grew All Around," and "Down in the Lowlands," as well as "The Rattlin' Bog." The adjective rattlin' means "splendid" in the context of this song. It is a cumulative song, similar to "The Twelve Days of Christmas", as it has a list at the end of each verse which grows throughout the piece. The Roud index lists 180 versions collected from oral tradition in English, and the song has analogues in French, Italian and German as well. Since it is a folk song, it has been transmitted over generations orally and aurally so many versions coexist and it may be impossible and even nonsensical to seek a single authoritative version of the song's lyrics.
"Peggy Gordon" is a Canadian folk song that has become popular in many English-speaking countries. As a folk song it was first collected in the 1950s and 1960s in Canada, mainly in Nova Scotia.
Allister MacGillivray CM, D. Litt (honors), is a Canadian singer/songwriter, guitarist, and music historian from the Cape Breton region of Nova Scotia. He was born January 17, 1948 in the coal-mining and fishing town of Glace Bay.