Karen gets in tune during lockdown

Karen Steven's New Scottish Fiddle Tunes.

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A regular Oban visitor has published a book of fiddle tunes inspired by her trips to the West Coast.

Caithness fiddler and highland dancer Karen Steven has put together a collection of 51 original compositions, based around the traditional music of Scotland.

Karen Steven’s New Scottish Fiddle Tunes has four themes; Highland Council Commission Year 2000, Tunes for Scotland’s National Nature Reserves, tunes for Tanya Horne School of Highland Dancing and finally, tunes for family and Friends.  Tune types include; jigs, reels, marches, waltzes, Strathspey and slow air, in a range of keys.

Twenty three of the 51 tunes in the book were composed during lockdown, in May.

‘It was at the end of May, while furloughed, that I decided to publish a book, which includes the tunes recently composed, along with a further 28, written over the last 20 years, explained Karen.

‘Writing the book has been a fantastic learning experience for me, long, long hours, but an enormous amount of fun too.’

Endorsed by Ronnie Gibson, conductor of Angus Strathspey and Reel Society, and Iain Fraser, director of Merlin Academy of Traditional Music, the book also reveals the authors musical inspirations over the years, teaching and learning experiences, performance, competitions and commissions.  In addition Karen has included tunes written for people who are dear to her or who have given a lot to the community in which they live.

‘For every tune in the book, I have written a line or two about the inspiration,’ she added.

‘I holiday regularly in Oban and love the whole Lorn area and the islands which has influenced my music too.

‘I feel strongly that the music provide players with the melody, free of my own personal interpretation, I have however, also added seven style tips towards the back of the book, giving players an insight into some of the bowing and ornamentation techniques that I use in my own playing.’

In addition to around 4,000 words of text and the 51 tunes in the book, Karen has recorded each tune and each style tip. These are presented in MP3 format on a soundcloud page specifically for the book. The link to the page where all 51 tunes can be listened/played along to, is listed in the book along with practical examples of her style tips which can be located using the same soundcloud address.

The book will be available locally, in Oban, from Music Scotland, 20 Argyll Square.