The Scottish Music Centre is home to the only archive on all things related to Scottish music!
Consisting of over 40,000 fascinating items, dating back to the early 1500s, with articles ranging from hand-written scores by various famous Scottish composers, to original poems by Robert Burns, to sheet music of work from Robert Carver to the present day, to demo recordings of Scotland’s best bands, our collection is one of a kind!
The material is open to the public and may be viewed by arrangement during SMC opening hours. We can also provide copies of most unpublished or out-of-copyright items if desired.
A small part of our collection is held on site, at Candleriggs, and may be consulted by appointment in our comfortable and stylish foyer space. The rest of our material is stored off-site, which we require two working days’ notice in order to retrieve it. But as more of the collection is digitised, visitors can explore our treasures easily online.
Many items are available for sale or hire, If you find an item in our catalogue which is not in the shop, simply drop us a line and we would be happy to help you obtain a copy if possible.
Scores and performance material for works by Scottish composers dominate our collection of sheet music. Most of this material dates from the 1960s, and includes unpublished as well as published items, but we have significant holdings of printed music from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, with modern editions of music from earlier periods.
Our recordings include commercial releases on vinyl and CD, as well as private recordings donated to us and copies of radio broadcasts of live and studio performances and music-related documentaries, plays and interviews, many on quarter-inch tape and cassette. We hold copies of major radio series such as The Music of Scotland (1973), Maisters of the Bow (1984), Scotland’s Music (1991-2, 2007).
We have an extensive collection of printed books, periodicals, and pamphlets which relate to Scottish musical history and significant individuals and institutions, as well as dozens of song- and tune-books from early collections such as James Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum and the fiddle tunes compiled by Niel Gow through to modern compilations of specially-commissioned compositions like The Nineties Collection or the Songbook series from NYCoS.
Many of these are not currently available and hard to obtain, but of special interest are the following collections, each of which provides a fascinating snapshot of one aspect of Scotland’s musical heritage.
- Ronnie Gurr collection: a wide range of photographs, demo and promo tapes, original mixes, radio broadcasts and live concert recordings from the 1970s and 80s. Donated by Ronnie Gurr. (Partially catalogued).
- Radio Scotland demo tapes: a collection of over 600 tapes sent to BBC Scotland in the 1980s by bands and singer-songwriters hoping for radio play. (Partially catalogued).
- CaVa Studios Collection: unclaimed master-tapes donated by CaVa’s Glasgow studios when it downsized in 2005. (Partially catalogued).
- Kenneth McKellar Collection: over 1000 sheet music items and over 400 recordings from the personal collection of the famous tenor. Donated by Jane McKellar. (Partially catalogued).
- Philip Hill Collection: over 500 cassettes recorded by Barry Morris and John Wiggins from radio broadcasts from the mid 1970s to early 1980s, most of them featuring the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Some copied from older recordings on reel. Donated by Gavin Hill. (Partially catalogued).
- Arthur Blake / Ian Gourlay Collection: over 1000 performing sets of light orchestral arrangements made for the BBC and Scottish Television. Donated by Margaret Calderwood and Morna Gourlay. (Fully catalogued)
- BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra Collection: the sheet music for over 3000 songs including ‘I Belong to Glasgow’, ‘The Jeely Piece Song’ and ‘Donald, Where’s Your Troosers’. From the archive of the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra. (Partially catalogued).
- Jazz at the Gateway Collection: tapes of performances at the Gateway Theatre, Edinburgh by Oscar Peterson, Stan Tracy, Morrissey Mullen and others. Donated by James Bryce.
- Finitribe Collection: over thirty releases on CD and vinyl by Edinburgh-based industrial techno outfit Finitribe and related projects from the 1980s and 1990s. Donated by David Millar. (Fully catalogued)
- Francis George Scott Collection: including the original manuscripts of over 200 songs, many of them still unpublished, by Francis George Scott (1880-1958), a major figure of the modernist Scottish renaissance. (Fully catalogued)
- Ian Whyte Collection: over 2000 handwritten scores and parts for original compositions and arrangements by Ian Whyte (1901-1960). (Fully catalogued)
- William Wordsworth Collection: handwritten and printed scores and parts for over 100 original compositions by William Wordsworth (1908-1988). (Fully catalogued). Also correspondence, sketches, cuttings.
- William G Whittaker Collection: handwritten and printed scores and parts for nearly 500 works by William G Whittaker (1876-1944). (Fully catalogued). Also letters, diaries, draft autobiography, and miscellaneous pamphlets and cuttings.
- Manuel Jacobs Collection: the surviving manuscripts of instrumental and chamber compositions of Manuel Jacobs (1910-1993). Donated by Geoffrey Jacobs. (Fully catalogued)
- Marie Dare Collection: mostly unpublished, handwritten chamber and instrumental compositions by Marie Dare (1902-1976). (Fully catalogued).
- William Wallace Collection: indexed research materials from MA dissertation by Valerie Carson on the life and work of William Wallace (1860-1940) including scores, information on his family and career, articles and extracts from books by him or in which he is mentioned; concert programmes; reviews of performances of his music; obituaries; copies of many of his letters. Donated by Valerie Carson.
We also hold a substantial collection of ephemeral material relating to over a hundred Scottish composers, such as concert programmes, press clippings, correspondence, photographs, mostly from the 1960s to the present day.