Scottish Dancing (for solo piano) – COLIN McKELLAR

“Scottish Dancing” – performed by Danaë Killian (piano)

Program Note

Scottish Dancing was written in 2012. The piece uses bitonality (with the tonalities divided between the two hands of the pianist) and utilizes twenty-four varieties of scale materials. For example, Arabic, gypsy, lydiandominant, oriental, and harmonic major scales are used in formations that attempt to follow the dance-partner interchanges used in traditional Scottish dance sets.

McKellar researched Scottish dancing for many months (through video and other materials), studying the dance-position interchanges and then ascribing male/female roles to the various scales. With four pairs in each dance set, the scales ‘swap positions’ according to numerous formulas used throughout the various sets. It is the colourful fluidity and multiplicity of the changing dance positions that the composer has attempted to base his ideas on. Choosing which scale to act as male and which to act as female caused some uncertainty; however, often there was no apprehension and the ‘male partner’ is found consistently in the left hand of the pianist. McKellar adopted two main interchanging designs from the dances as well as the ‘Grand Chain’ idea at the ending.