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Macmath: The Silent Page

Macmath: The Silent Page (BOS CD 1501)

Macmath: The Silent Page
The Macmath Collective

BOS CD 1501 (CD, UK, October 2015)

William Macmath (1848–1922) grew up in Galloway before moving to Edinburgh as a young man and his huge and largely unacknowledged legacy was in helping the American ballad collector and academic Francis Child with his definitive publication, English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882–1898). Although working entirely in his spare time, Macmath worked tirelessly and meticulously over a period of almost thirty years, to track down and verify details relating to the Scottish ballads included in Child’s collection. The National Trust for Scotland’s Broughton House and Garden—Kirkcudbright—holds many of the letters between Macmath and Child written over their long association. More pertinently to this project there are two books of mostly unpublished songs and song fragments written down by Macmath, which have been used here.

Commissioned by Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival;
Research, notes and choir arrangements by Alison Burns;
Recorded by Steve Butler at Ferndale Studios and by Jamie McClennan at While Fall Studios, Dumfriesshire, Scotland;
Mixed by Jamie McClennan at While Fall Studios;
Mastered by Paul McGeechan at Waterside Productiona, Bothwell, Scotland;
Photography by Kim Ayres


Aaron Jones, vocals [5, 8, 12], bouzouki, cittern;
Claire Mann, flute, fiddle, whistle;
Emily Smith, vocals [2, 4, 6, 8-9, 11];
Jamie McClennan, guitar, fiddle, whistle;
Robyn Stapleton, vocals [1, 3, 7, 10];
Wendy Stewart, harp, concertina;
The Feral Choir, backing vocals


  1. The Corbie and the Craw (Roud 5; Child 26) (1.48)
  2. Johnie Scot (Roud 63; Child 99; G/D 5:1013; Henry H736) (4.48)
  3. The Lochmaben Harper (Roud 85; Child 192; G/D 2:270) (3.48)
  4. Queen of the Fairies (Roud 35; Child 39; G/D 2:330) (5.32)
  5. The Laird o’ Drum (Roud 247; Child 236; G/D 4:835) (4.37)
  6. John Blunt (Roud 115; Child 275; G/D 2:321) (3.25)
  7. Lord Ronald (Roud 10; Child 12; G/D 2:209; Henry H814) (3.47)
  8. Hynd Horn (Roud 28; Child 17; G/D 5:1022) (5.57)
  9. Linkum (Roud 16; G/D 8:1669) (2.10)
  10. Queen Jeanie (Roud 77; Child 170; G/D 3:693) (4.48)
  11. I Saw the Snail (Roud 473; G/D 8:1703) (2.19)
  12. The Golden Vanitee (Roud 122; Child 286; G/D 1:37) (5.15)
  13. The Earth Says to the Earth (3.21)

All songs trad. collected by William Macmath;
All melodies trad. except
Track 4 Emily Smith, Jamie McClennan;
Track 11 Emily Smith;
Track 13 Alison Burns