Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Audio Recordings of Scots Poetry

For a very long time Dr. George Philp, osteopath and doctor of medicine, whom God preserve, as a patriotic endeavour recorded an enormous amount of Scots poetry, with as far as possible the involvement of living poets reading their own verse. He often used his consulting room as a studio, and indeed I could have pointed out the building, in the row of handsome houses directly across University Avenue from the Woolfson building, where the Saturday of the recent James Hogg Society conference took place.

The tape deck rested on what in his hours of remunerative employment was a massage table, and the microphone on his massive desk—although he also travelled the country recording poets in their own homes, and indeed scholars and others in their working environment, reading the poems of those who had been in their graves (or wherever, because nobody knows what happened to William Dunbar, for instance) for some centuries.

Commentaries were recorded, read by scholars and others involved in the selection, compilation and preparation and often enough reading of the works of the poets, or Makars as Dr. Philp called them, preferring to translate the Greek and emulate Dunbar etc., rather than use the loan word poet.

These recordings with spoken apparatus appeared over a long period, as audio cassettes, sales helping to fund the project, and toward the end of Dr. Philp's working years the venture also nursed the Robert Henryson society into existence. When Dr. Philp retired he made over the complete catalogue to the Scots Language Society.

During the late John Law's very distinguished presidency of the Scots Language Society the recordings were digitised and many can now be acquired on CD.

The above link should access the catalogue and ordering details easily, as well as the Scots Language Society site in general. Not only do I have no financial interest in the sales of CDs in whose preparation I was involved, I'm not even a member of the Scots Language Society!

Robert R. Calder

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