The men who wrote the early crossover music were people like William Marshall, Niel Gow and his son Nathaniel, James Oswald, Simon Fraser and Robert Macintosh. Not all of them were professional musicians – Marshall, for example, was a multi-tasking butler who worked for the Duke of Gordon and just happened to be a superb fiddler.
More than 200 of his compositions have survived, having, in his lifetime, been printed and sold in cities throughout Britain. Listen to his music today and the first surprise is that he wrote not for solo fiddle but for the fiddle accompanied by a violoncello or a harpsichord. Sometimes he wrote violin duets. It may sound Scottish, being almost exclusively written for reels and other Scottish dances, but the instruments used give the music a classically Baroque sound.
Dance, from the time of the Renaissance lute and viol players, was to have a considerable influence on Scottish music – as did the 1707 Act of Union. Many Scottish musicians, foreseeing the loss of their folk culture that legally joining the kingdoms of England and Scotland might engender, decided it must be collected and protected before it was too late. At the same time, Scottish songs became fashionable in London's theatres and drawing-rooms, with English composers rushing to fill the market.
Also, many of Scotland's monarchs have been excellent musicians. On his wedding night, James IV apparently entertained his bride by playing the lute and clavichord.
The Classical Music Map of Britain by Richard Fawkes is out now from Elliot and Thompson Publishing, priced 9.99