Off The Page 2021 – Music in the Archives

A local authority archive is by its very nature an eclectic thing. At its core there are the records of the local authority. These reflect the many and varied responsibilities that fell under the remit of the various governing bodies through the years. In addition to this, the Council Archives acts as a repository of community memory, accepting deposit of all kinds of records from organisations and individuals that serves to reflect the hugely varied activities and interests of people everywhere in the Council’s administrative area. Inevitably, within this there are records that refer to the making and teaching of music. Music is an important cultural activity that brings people together and the Scots are renowned for their enjoyment of music and dancing.

The Schoolmaster’s Commonplace Book

In the records of Dunblane Parish Church, there is a notebook that belonged to a number of Parish Schoolmasters. Early schools in Scotland were provided by the Church and schoolmasters appointed by the local Kirk Session. From the variations in handwriting in this unusual early volume, dating from the late seventeenth century, it would appear that it was put together by more than one Master. There is an interesting section that relates to how music was taught to the scholars attending the little Parish school.

This illustration shows a method of teaching musical notation using the hand as an aide memoire.

This page shows a method of teaching scales in different keys using a helpful rhyme.

There are also pages that give simple tunes for psalms and songs for use in the classroom.

There are records of various clubs and societies in the Archives, and these include amateur dramatic and operatic societies. The photographs of past productions are always a delight to see.

Bridge of Allan Operatic and Choral Society put on some very professional looking productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operattas in the early part of the twentieth century. Full cast photographs survive as part of the Bridge of Allan Dr Welsh Trust collection. The costumes are sumptuous.

This delightful production of the little known operetta Zurika, The Gypsy Maid by Clementine Ward was put on by a church group in Deanston in 1939 (Image courtesy of Elspeth Marshall, Doune).

The Archives holds records of choirs.

Bands and orchestras.

The Archives also holds numerous pictures of social events that involve music and dancing. Local newspapers, held at the Archives from 1820 onwards, give detailed descriptions of all kind of events in the local area, including concerts, shows and Highland Games.

If you have a comment or question about the information given in this post, or simply want to make an enquiry to the Archives, please email us at: –