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Shetland

Where Scotland meets Scandinavia. The tradition here is unique with characteristic Music, Songs and Dances. There is no Gaelic here, just English and Shetlandic (derived from Norn, an extinct Norse language of Shetland itself based on Norse, and Scots English).

There is an annual Folk Festival in May attracting big names in the Folk world, especially the Celtic variety.

The Shetland Folk Society collects and records all aspects of Shetland culture and Tradition.

Some folk tunes are well known - Willafjord and Shaalds of Foula for example.
(Shaalds = fields but the name refers to a barely submerged reef off the island of Foula)

The music style is based on the Fiddle and probably influenced by the Hardanger Fiddle. Tuning is often ADAE rather than GDAE and fiddle position used to be on the upper arm rather than shoulder and chin. The tunes are listening, ritual (e.g. wedding) or dance.

The Foula Reel is a dance which is widely known and for which the Shaalds of Foula is one of the tunes played. Weddings see old Norse Ring Dances but the Scots influenced Reel is the most common dance form.

Folk songs are not as well known and many are lullabies. Some may be familiar with the Unst Boat Song which has words in Norn.

There is a long established tradition of Story Telling from the Norse influence.

Shetlanders celebrate the 'Viking Fire Festival' of Up Helly Aa. Up to 800 Guizers led by an appointed Jarl march the streets before burning a Viking Galley. Lerwick holds theirs on the last Tuesday in January (Old Yule) and Unst celebrate in mid-February and again 2 weeks later. The name is invented as is the modern celebration and the Viking longboat connection (1878). Previously it was a Tar Barrel run through the streets but only known since Napoleonic times. It probably follows from an earlier Pagan Fire Festival.

I am delighted that there is a Shetlopedia.