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William Dixon, his Tune Book - was the principle theme of the 1997 Collogue.

And that theme was taken up with enthusiasm. It was a Celebration; a Feast; a Gluttony; a Surfeit. There were talks and there was music: then there was music and more talks - focused for the most part on the William Dixon manuscript. The gist of what was said will be published later; the music has long since echoed into silence.

Those of us privileged to be there were treated to such tunes as The New Way To Bouden; Have A Care Of Her Johnny; Dixon’s Highland Laddie; Saw Ye Never A Bonny Lass; Over the Dyke and Til her Laddy; The Stool Of Repentance; Lasses Bushes Brawly; Minuet - Edward The Second; Wallington - and plenty more. The music was played on Border pipes; Northumbrian smallpipes; Scottish smallpipes; Highland pipes - even a Highland practice chanter. There was a bold attempt to introduce some new variations (un-documented by Dixon). Drones were silenced for one tune, selectively unstopped for another - and set with an “E” baritone for some music written in “D”. Versions were played with sharpened                 sevenths; flattened sevenths; minor thirds. There were guitar accompaniments, duet                       arrangements and band interpretations. We heard an impressive attempt (with enviable             finger-work) at translating Dixon’s Border settings into the Highland piping mode.

Occasionally his music was played in the way it was written.

The venue for all this was Peebles - a fitting event for such a place (and vice versa). The attendance was full to overflowing - a credit to, and relief for, Julian Goodacre who did more than the Lion’s share in organising it all. Comments and discussions were being aired even as I left (sadly before close of play on the second day) and it was clear even then that some of the ways in which the music settings from 1733 had been interpreted did not meet with universal approval.

And I wondered: supposing William Dixon himself had been in the audience, what would he have made of it all!

The full “Proceedings” of that 1997 COLLOGUE will be presented (in due course) as a document in its own right. However a fore-taste is given here with Roderick Cannon’s “A Short Preface To Dixon”. Roderick was the first speaker on the Saturday morning, and set the scene for much of the day’s discussion. The interview with Matt Seattle (which                   follows) took place several weeks before the Collogue.

Jock Agnew.