When Less is More (Blog to Book)

Returning visitors to these pages may find the content thinner than it used to be. Now that I’m working on my next book, I want my best content to be honed to perfection and triple-checked before I commit it to print. Rather than leave extended writings – which I posted as ‘work in progress’ – sitting on the internet, I’ve pruned what is here. In general, I continue to research the topics I posted here (Scottish music publishers James Kerr, Mozart Allan and many others, and interrogations of cultural issues), and any new details or dates which I didn’t know at the time of blogging, could potentially change what I originally wrote. And also, of course, I want readers of the book to be surprised and delighted by new insights that no-one knew before!

I shall continue to blog, of course. How could I not? I have so many ideas buzzing round my head that it’s hard keeping them all to myself!

Chasing Research Grants

Also posted on Facebook, 26 May 2021

Hello again, dear followers! I’ve heard of a research grant that I am eligible to apply for. It’ll receive applications from many researchers, so I haven’t got a particularly strong chance of succeeding, but it would be nice to get a research grant to help me get on with writing my book, so … I shall have to see what’s involved in making an application!

I thought I’d share my current plans for the book. So far, I’ve written some of the introduction, and most of the first chapter.

This is the shape of the thing:-

  • 1. Cheap music for all: James S. Kerr and Mozart Allan (history)
  • 2. Enduring Kerr and Mozart Allan titles, what was in them and why they were so successful.
  • 3. Organisations (Glasgow and Scotland-wide) concerned with music making and with promoting Scottish music
  • 4. Educational connections
  • 5. Educationalists and how they fit into the scene
  • 6. Overseas.
  • 7. Spin-offs and tie-ins
  • 8. Publishing “classical” music in Scotland
  • 9. Domestic music-making in Glasgow

Considering how long it has taken just to get the first chunk written, you see what I have got ahead of me. Some chapters will be longer than others, and some of these topics may get merged. Who knows?!

(The image here is from Glasgow Museums Collection:- collections.GlasgowMuseums.com)

Good Intentions

I was going to write a bit about Cedric Thorpe Davie today. However, the day simply didn’t pan out as intended!

Instead, I finished a conference paper about metadata in rare music cataloguing, started gathering facts for another conference paper about a lowland pipe tune, broke off to deal with a library-related query, and played the pipe tune on a concertina to unravel my head after so many disjointed activities!

I do still intend to write something about Cedric Thorpe Davie at some point!

Bruce, Clements and Co.

This is another posting that I put on the Facebook Glasgow Music Publishers page a couple of days ago. I wonder if anyone can provide any pointers to this firm, currently a bit of a mystery to me?!


My study of historical Glasgow music publishers may need to embrace other Scottish music publishers too. (A metaphorical, socially distanced embrace, obviously.)

So. The first question is, who WERE Bruce, Clements & Co, who traded in Edinburgh circa 1921-1937, published quite a bit by W. B. Moonie and a significant work – Dirge for Cuthullin – by Cedric Thorpe Davie? I’ve only looked at Jisc Library Hub Discover and the British Newspaper Archive so far, but although I can find out what they published, I don’t know who they were – sometimes they called themselves Bruce Clements & Co., and other times Bruce, [COMMA!] Clements & Co. – though I do know they traded from 30 Rutland Square.

W. B. Moonie – YouTube of “Perthshire Echoes” played by pianist P. Sear

I don’t have access to Post Office Directories in Libraries – and they’re too “modern” to be in the National Library of Scotland Digital Gallery – though appropriate directories might yet tell me more about Mr Bruce or Mr Clements! At the moment, it’s just a question arising from my insatiable curiosity, but I should still like to know, because you never know what connections firms had with other firms or individuals.

I have had a couple of responses – Jack Campin tells me that Davie’s son was Tony Davie, computer scientist at the University of St Andrews.  And I am sure there will be plenty of material about Cedric Thorpe Davie himself at St Andrews’ research repository, so that could be an interesting angle to pursue.

Meanwhile, another respondent pointed me in the direction of a couple of directories available via the Internet Archive, so I now have their address, (You’d be surprised how many firms I’ve traced at Rutland Square, which plainly housed more than one company at a time. The Boy Scouts Association were there, for starters. But I digress!

Interestingly, Thorpe Davie’s choral work, Dirge for Cuthullin, published in 1937 and admired by Vaughan Williams (four letters survive at VaughanWilliams.uk), was subsequently taken over by Oxford University Press in 1946. (See notes on manuscripts at St Andrews University Library.) I have a feeling Bruce, Clements and Co published very little, if anything else, by Thorpe Davie, and I believe the firm fizzled out in the very early 1940s. (I’d still like to know who they were!)