The Lockdown Sessions – NatureScot’s virtual house band

During the early days of lockdown when most of us were just getting acquainted with Zoom, the NatureScot Virtual House Band was formed. Each in their own little corner of Scotland the musicians merged to entertain the troops with some of their favourite tunes and show that while lockdown kept us apart, we were still connected through technology, music, nature and more!

We each have our own favourite sounds in nature. Maybe yours is the crashing of breakers on a shingle beach, the rustling of leaves as the wind blows through the canopy or the call of the sometimes elusive corncrake.

Nature has inspired some of the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed from the rising and falling of Vaughan Williams ‘The Lark Ascending’ to Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral Symphony’ and in more recent times, Neil Young’s album ‘Earth’.

Scotland has deep roots in connections between music and nature through its own ancient classical music for the bagpipe, called Piobreachd. Tradition has it that nature gifted the piper the melody with some of those tunes still with us after over 300 years. There is a lovely story attributed to the early composers of Piobreachd, that they would compose at low tide and capture the notation on the sandy shore. Once practiced and perfected, the tune remained with the piper whilst the tide rolled in and washed the stave away forever.

It is our pleasure to share with you these few nature melodies — you can tell there was an ornithologist in charge of tune selection! The group’s final song … their swansong … is called ‘The Little Bird’. A fitting tune for spring 2020 when many say they became more aware of nature changing and the intensity of new life bursting around them.



Sally Thomas – Concertina and Flute

Juan Brown – Low Whistles

Kirsty North – Clarsach

Cathy Tilbrook – Cello

Daryl Short – Accordion

Stuart MacQuarrie – Low Whistle, Uilleann (Irish) Pipes and Scottish Small Pipes

And for Lark in the morning & Eagle’s whistle:

Alasdair MacQuarrie – Guitar and sound/video production

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