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19 Jun 2020

Music Day on the summer solstice

A miniature upright piano from a doll’s house owned by the Farquhars of Pitscandly
A miniature upright piano from a doll’s house owned by the Farquhars of Pitscandly
In France, the longest day is the day people celebrate ‘La Fete de la Musique’, or Music Day.

On Music Day, or World Music Day, hundreds of free events normally take place in over 120 countries across the world, but because of the coronavirus pandemic it’s moving online this year.

Here, we look back at when our Project Reveal North East team were cataloguing items from the Angus Folk Collection and discovered a number of musical instruments:

On the longest day of the year, the collection in Brechin Museum Store seems to sneakily appeal to my inner Frenchness. In France, 21 June is the day we celebrate ‘La Fete de la Musique’, or Music Day. Held for the first time in 1982 under the patronage of the Minister of Culture, it’s now quite an institution! The idea is simple: music is celebrated by holding free gigs and concerts all over France. There are some planned events in venues, but most of the music happens in the street, where professionals and amateurs alike are encouraged to play. It’s quite something to wander through the streets of Paris and go from a classical quartet to a rock band and then a rap battle.

The collection must have felt this festive mood too, as we’ve come across quite a few instruments in the past weeks: melodeons, accordions, Jew’s harps and penny whistles. There are just enough of them to form a small band! If you pass through Brechin on the longest day, maybe, just maybe, you’ll find an improvised band led by a French woman with two reluctant Scottish men, playing historical instruments ... and all for free!

A metal Jew’s harp
A metal Jew’s harp
Bellows from a set of lowland pipes, possibly 18th century
Bellows from a set of lowland pipes, possibly 18th century
A melodeon made by Royal Standard Company of Saxony
A melodeon made by Royal Standard Company of Saxony
A set of Lowland bagpipes
A set of Lowland bagpipes
Hand-carved fiddle neck
Hand-carved fiddle neck

Project Reveal was a collections digitisation project that has resulted in an updated database with high-quality images and unique object numbers for every item in the National Trust for Scotlands material culture collections. Six regionally based project teams worked across all our properties with collections to complete the inventory in 24 months, between July 2017 and July 2019.

The collection of the former Angus Folk Museum is currently stored at the Brechin Museum Store. As part of a new project, it will be rehoused at House of Dun, near Montrose, where it’ll be displayed throughout the refurbished courtyard and buildings.

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