Broughty Castle

Today I was at Broughty Ferry public library, playing the harp for the baby and toddler book group. This is great fun as well as being a bit of a challenge – I am expected to accompany while they sing a selection of nursery rhymes, unexpected titles, in unexpected keys, and sung quite fast.

I also visitied the castle, and then walked for about half an hour along the beach to the East. The tide was coming in quite fast and I found this lovely reflection in the groynes with the castle in the background. The hill to the left is the northern tip of Fife.

New harp makers

I’m always interested to encourage instrument makers who are looking to start building good copies of the medieval Gaelic harps, and recently I have heard from two established instrument makers who are branching out into early Gaelic harp territory. Both have chosen the Queen Mary harp as their model – a good choice given the amount of information published about it, especially since Karen Loomis has started publishing her researches now (see Galpin Society Journal, 2012)

Michael King is an instrument maker in England, specialising in lyres, kanteles and related instruments (I have one of his lyres). For him the Gaelic harp is a step up in size and complexity but the completed instrument looks very handsome I think:

More info from his website.

Pedro Ferreira is a Portugese instrument maker who produces exquisite clavichords and other baroque instruments. His Gaelic harp is also based on the Queen Mary harp; this is a slightlier simpler prototype I think. I am very excited to see a luthier with this amount of experience on sophisticated historical instruments turn their attention to our harps.

You can get more from his website or from his Facebook page.

As yet I have not seen either of these instruments in person, and I have not had a chance to play them or listen to them. Both of these harps have followed my ‘student’ stringing regime with brass in the treble and mid-range and sterling silver in the bass. I am sure both of them would benefit greatly from having gold strings in the bass instead of silver!

Ian MacKenzie Memorial Calendar

Lovers of the West Highland photography of the late Ian MacKenzie will be pleased to know that the 2013 calendar is now available. Details from or phone 0131 446 0723 to order a copy.

 Iain worked as photographer for the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh. If you haven’t already seen the student campaign to “save the School” then check out the campaign website and read some background info at