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The article below appeared in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo programme and media coverage.

The Shetland Fiddlers - Hjaltibonhoga

Although Shetland's population numbers some 22,000, the United Kingdom's most northerly community is today reknowned worldwide for the excellence of its fiddle based traditional music.


The islands' culture was originally Nordic and devoid of any Celtic influence on introducing instruments such as harps or pipes, so the fiddle became the main provider of dance music. Equally important was the islands' remoteness from mainstream influence which helped fashion a near-unique playing style and tune repertoire.


Modern 20th-Century music and dance almost eradicated the old fiddle playing tradition until Dr Tom Anderson MBE, through years of determination and effort, inspired a revival of Shetland's musical heritage thanks to tune collection and preservation, leading to the establishment of fiddle tuition in Shetland schools from 1972. Dr Anderson MBE - fiddler, composer, collector, teacher and traditionalist - died in 1991, but his inspiration lives on, as musicians such as Aly Bain and Fiddlers' Bid continue to take Shetland's music around the world.


The forty fiddlers you will see tonight have been assembled especially for the Tattoo and while they have not been drawn from a particular group, they chosen musicians are suitably representative of both their community and their county. 


Aged from 14 to 60, the players embody the aural tradition of fiddling as it is successfully transmitted across the generations. 


Tonight, complete with Shetland wool sweaters designed by NielaNell from Hoswick, to illustrate the radience of the Northern Lights - or as they are known in Shetland the Mirrie Dancers - the performers are set to captivate Tattoo audiences. 


Truely evocative of the Shetland Islands, this evening's music will employ a session element as well as dance tunes. 


The Shetland Fiddlers - Hjaltibonhoga (which translates to "Shetland my spiritual home") contribution to the 2014 Tattoo has been generously supported by Promote Shetland

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