Sound of the City

By Sarah Chamberlain

Not all Scottish musicians look like this!

Not all Scottish musicians look like this!

I’m sure that when many people think of Scottish music, they think of a man in a funny plaid skirt squeezing something that looks like a large black turkey, and creating noises that in fact sound like that animal being slowly tortured to death. I will concede that bagpipes aren’t for everyone, but speaking from my experience as a student radio DJ here in Edinburgh, there is superb music to be found in Scotland. Venues range from huge stadiums (the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, played at Hampden Park Stadium in Glasgow earlier this week) to tiny basement clubs. Local preferences tend towards indie, rock, and folk, and you can always find bands playing variations on these at cheap gigs (prices ranging from free to ten pounds a ticket) on all nights of the week. Belle & Sebastian and Franz Ferdinand had to start somewhere, didn’t they? If you are in a musical mood but are unsure where to start looking for a gig to go to, a great place to find listings is The List, a fortnightly magazine which covers all kinds of cultural happenings in Glasgow and Edinburgh. And to get an idea of what the Scottish music scene can produce, here are three excellent bands that I’ve had to pleasure to see and to hear while I’ve been living in Edinburg.

Broken Records – They somehow manage to cram seven members and their instruments onto a tiny stage, and make a huge, dramatic, and gorgeous sound that takes cues from Scottish folk, Gypsy rhythms, and not a little bit of Arcade Fire.

Meursault – Electro-folk may sound like a complete contradiction in terms, but these guys combine beats and bleeps with acoustic guitars and a huge, powerful voice to create something a little strange but also really exciting.

Go Away Birds – A boy-girl duo, making very lovely, simple indie-folk music. Her deep and sweet alto voice make stories of falling in and out of love utterly spellbinding.

I hope both that you get an idea of the sound of Edinburgh, and that you’re inspired to seek out local music wherever you end up study abroad, whether it’s Berlin or Buenos Aires or Beijing!

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Gulliver helps students Study Abroad. Our blog covers: current issues in Study Abroad; featured posts by Study Abroad students; and Gulliver updates, news, and behind-the-scenes peaks. Thanks for reading!

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