Music for summer's end and autumn's beginning

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Aug 16, 2021 / 0 comments

Summer's end, autumn's beginning, shifting times global and local, time to reflect wherever you may find yourself and in whatever season.

As ever, changes and choices are in the wind.

Music for summer's end and autumn's beginning

That is part of what Emily Smith was thinking about when she walked outside her home in the southwest of Scotland one evening. Looking back at the lights of her home, looking around at the landscape as the sun set, she began to have the idea for what would become her song Sunset Hymn. It is a gentle and powerful meditation which holds change, trust, hope, and reflection. In this video, Emily is accompanied on guitar by her musical partner and husband Jamie McClennan. You will find the song recorded on Emily's album called Too Long Away. You may also want to see Smith and McClennan's duo album, Small Town Stories.

Climate emergency, climate change: it is both a constant and immediate subject of conversation, news, and thought. A recent report from a United Nations panel of scientists shows that the world will reach a crucial climate threshold about a decade earlier than thought -- and coming up quickly, by 2030. There are stark warnings in this report, as well as pointers as to what needs to change. Here's a good explainer to get you up to speed on the high points of what the 234 scientists who contributed to the report have to say:

Changes in climate alter large and small bits of day to day life and of nature.

That is what Julie Fowlis and Karine Polwart, both from Scotland, are considering as they sing about The Snow Hare. The song  was written and is recorded as part of The Lost Words: Spell Songs project, and you will find it on the album of that name.

In a rather more hopeful look at change and nature, Eddi Reader sings Wild Mountainside. It was written by Eddi's husband John Douglas, who is playing guitar in this video.

She was living in England at the time, and has said that this song played a part in guiding her to move back to her native Scotland. You will find the song recorded on two albums: Eddi Reader Sing the Songs of Robert Burns and the deluxe edition of that same title, which includes seven additional tracks. All are Burns songs with the exception of Wild Mountainside and the tune Dram Behind the Curtain, written by Mairearad Green.

You may also want to look for Eddi Reader's recent album Cavalier.

Mountain landscapes have ways of adding perspective and inviting reflection. So, too, does Lauren MacColl's work.

MacColl is a fiddle player and composer from the north of Scotland. This track is called Air Mullach Beinn Fhuathais/ On Top of Ben Wyvis. Ben Wyvis, too, is in the north of Scotland, not far from Inverness.

You will find the piece recorded on Lauren's album Landskein. In this video, you see an artist drawing the cover image for Landskein -- and that artist is the aforementioned Mairearad Green, who is a visual artist as well as a musician.

All the tracks on Landskein are traditional tunes, some Lauren has known for some time and others she found while working on this album. It was recorded in an older building in the north Highlands, Abriachan Hall. Of the project, Lauren writes that it is "a collection of music that reflects my personal connection to the Highland landscape, a love of the hills, and a return home. I hope you find a stillness within it."

Rani Arbo and the three men of daisy mayhem offer their own brand of questions and reflection, joy and hope, in the song Big Old Life. The New England-based quartet is good at that: in addition to top class musicianship, you will find all sorts of thought-provoking music laced through their decades of collaboration. As you see and hear in this clip, they share a lot of joy in working together, as well. Rani Arbo is on lead vocals and guitar here, Scott Kessel is on percussion, Andrew Kinsey plays bass, and Anand Nayak is on guitar.  The song, which Rani wrote, is the title track of their album Big Old Life.

In whatever season you read this, whatever choices and changes you may be experiencing, may the music of these artists be good companion.


Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times


Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.