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'Strains of Eden' is a search for identity through songs from our collective past. It explores our connection to the land via key periods in the people's history ranging from the Clearances, Chartist and Crofting Times, to the Celtic Revival.


The project has been devised by Scottish singer songwriter Alan Dickson, who says it’s a story worth retelling, as it lies at the roots of who we are and what it means to be free, not just politically, but economically too. “Back then, there were dissenting voices that questioned progress but most collectors tended to ignore the more 'radical' songs. I’ve managed to trace and re-work some of them for today’s audiences. That way fresh light can be shed on the past and be carried forward to inform the future.”


The songs are in English and Scots, with many being recorded for the first time. New tunes have been composed or existing Scottish traditional tunes adapted where the original tunes have been lost or not documented in the archives.


On a general note, roots music is often banded about as an alternative description for folk, Celtic, or even traditional music. However, in the original sense of the word it has a deeper meaning; being of the soil and embodying life that is characterised by lyrics with a radical dimension.  The dictionary definition of radical is of the root(s); inherent, essential, fundamental, meaning we have to go to the roots to affect change.


Background notes:

Originally from Leith, Alan Dickson studied land use planning at Dundee, then went onto train and work in the field of community education in and around Glasgow for some thirty years. He took voluntary redundancy in 2013 to concentrate on his music.

Material was gathered, including lyrical poetry, from the archives at the University of Glasgow’s Janey Buchan Political Song Collection, Caledonian University’s Special Collections, relevant books and online sources, such as and Chartist sources.

The project will be of interest to those with an interest (both academic and general) in Scottish history, Scottish literature, politics, land reform, active citizenship, arts and culture, traditional music, and ethnology/folklore.

                                  A FOURFOLD VISION

'Strains of Eden' has been curated by reweaving  a rich tapestry of song through the fourfold relationship of the elements (earth being the heaviest):

           1/5. Soul - anthems (renewal)

          4. Air - songs of hope

          3. Fire - protest songs

          2. Water - laments (loss & longing)

          1. Earth - ballads (solidarity)


In musicology the fifth element is normally a repetition of the first but a fifth higher, opening out into further levels of awareness.

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