Folk Music/Expert Profile

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My main field of expertise in in traditional ballads - those commonly known as the Child ballads. Those containing executions are my particular speciality, but I am also interested in ballad structure formula, functions and narrative constructs. However, I also have interest in - and academic knowledge of - bothy ballads, and the singing tradition of Scotland - although not Gaelic song. This includes Jacobite song, political song, songs about the trades, and so on. I'm pretty au fait with traditional singers and bands too. And while I enjoy singing the songs, I'm not so sure others might enjoy listening!

Experience in the area

I studied ballads academically, as well as Scottish literature. This extended into Scottish social customs and social history. I was the traditional music reviewer for the Edinburgh Evening News for 4 years, and have several publications to my name. I have been a freelance tutor in outreach courses from Edinburgh University on Scottish Culture and Tradition, including lifecycle customs, broadsheet ballads in Scotland, the traditional ballad and history. I am a freelance writer, have been a guest presenter on Ch4 History Hunters programme, and was a contributor to BBC Radio Scotland's 'Songlines' series on 'The Dowie Dens of Yarrow', and have advised BBC Radio Scotland researchers regarding Scottish songs and ballads from the Borders.


Books: Forthcoming: The Gallows and The Stake. Published: Compendium of Scottish Ethnology, vol. 10 'Oral Literature and Performance Culture', chapter on The Traditional and the Border Ballad; The Harris Repertoire (Scottish Text Society, co-editor), The Ballad in History (chapter on Border ballads). Journals include Folklore, The Review of Scottish Culture, Scottish Studies, and The Scottish Literary Journal. Music reviews appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News


Ph D, M. Phil, BA (Hons)

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    K = Knowledgeability    C = Clarity of Response    P = Politeness
Sandy07/17/15101010Thank you for your response, you were .....
Pascal 03/05/14101010Thanks so much Kaye. That's a great .....
Caitlin09/07/13101010Wonderful! It would seem i asked the .....
Bob07/25/13101010Thank you anyway, Kaye.

Recent Answers from Kaye McAlpine

2016-07-22 Copyrights on old songs and stories:

Dear Ken    I don't recall the question you refer to - could it have been another expert? My area of expertise is traditional Scottish music.    With regard to copyright, each country has different laws:

2015-07-03 Old Silly Songs:

Dear Sandy    I wold not qualify these songs as 'folk songs' in the purest sense of the word. However, given that they are exactly the type of song to be sung, probably at a gathering of people who are

2014-03-07 Mam'selle Marie:

Dear Marjorie    I'm not sure if you have come to the correct person - as you'll see from my biog, my expertise is in traditional Scottish music and song - which does not cover this genre of music.   

2014-03-05 Revolutionary Ballad:

Hi Pascal    For a start, this is definitely not a traditional Scottish  song, so forgive the following, if I seem a little unsure. However, I love a challenge! Apologies in advance if anything here duplicates

2013-09-06 Traditional folk son to scare children!:

Hi Caitlin    Hmm. First of all, certainly on my side of the pond, there's not much use of the word 'Celtic' - it just isn't specific enough. I am also slightly  confused by the "Gaelic would be okay if


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