I'm heading up the Isle of Skye at the end of the week (to celebrate an old friend's birthday), so I'm turning northward today with Gaelic music by musicians from Scotland and beyond.
To start with (above), a lovely short video by Julie Fowlis, from Uist in the Outer Hebrides, explaining why the preservation of the Gaelic language remains so important today. "Speaking a language that has been around for thousands of years," says Fowlis, "you get a different perspective on your own country and an understanding of the people you come from. By singing the traditional songs, you get a better understanding of your own area and it brings the stories of local communities and the history of the people alive."
In Port, a programme for the BBC, Fowlis teamed up with Irish singer Muireann NicAmhlaoibh to investigate Gaelic music and culture in its variations across the two countries. In the video below, they bring Irish bodhrán player Donnchadh Gough (from Danú) and Irish singer Síle Denvir (from Líadan) to Fowlis' home island, North Uist.
In the next two videos, also from Port, Fowlis & NicAmhlaoibh visit the Orkney Isles in the far north of Scotland.
Above, Fowlis sings "The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry" with The Unthanks (from Northumbria), backed up by Orcadian musicians.
Below, they're joined by Irish singer Liam Ó Maonlaí (from The Hothouse Flowers), performing "Amhrán na Heascainne."
Above: Kathleen MacInnes, a wonderful singer from South Uist, performs "Gur milis Mòrag" with the young American bluegrass musician Sarah Jarosz, from Texas. The video was filmed back in 2011 for the BBC's TransAtlantic Sessions programme.
Below, moving from the pastoral to the urban, and the old to the new:
"An Dà Là,' " a timely song by the Scottish band Mànran, from their fine new album of the same name, full of songs about personal and political upheavals both historic and contemporary. The title comes from a Gaelic expression meaning "great change." The lyrics to the song are here. Be bold, be strong.