Aberdeenshire part of a new national network to save our sound heritage

A total of 365 tape recordings from the John Junner Collection are presented to'National Library of Scotland staff at Aberdeenshire Museums HQ in Mintlaw to be transported to the Librarys Glasgow hub at Kelvin Hall for up to a year
A total of 365 tape recordings from the John Junner Collection are presented to'National Library of Scotland staff at Aberdeenshire Museums HQ in Mintlaw to be transported to the Librarys Glasgow hub at Kelvin Hall for up to a year

Unique and rare recordings of Scottish traditional music made in Aberdeenshire in the 1940s through to the 1980s are to be preserved as part of a national initiative led by the British Library.

Unlocking Our Sound Heritage is a major £18.8 million sound preservation and access project, which has received a £9.5 million National Lottery Heritage Fund grant.

It has seen the formation of the first ever network of ten sound preservation centres, including one at the National Library of Scotland.

This UK-wide partnership of institutions aims to digitally preserve half a million of the nation’s most rare and at-risk sounds and share them as widely as possible.

Reel-to-reel tape recordings from the John Junner Collection - recently donated to Live Life Aberdeenshire’s Museum Service - were selected as one of the Scottish beneficiaries.

The full collection comprises musical instruments, recording and playing equipment, and music recordings on wax cylinders, tapes and cassettes.

Junner (1919 – 2009) was a schoolteacher and esteemed musician from Strachan, Aberdeenshire.

An acknowledged authority on the music of James Scott Skinner – Banchory’s famous dancing master, violinist, fiddler and composer – he was interested in sound, its mechanical production and reproduction on various machines.

Over the years he recorded many local musicians. His musical collecting and recordings pre-dates the Folk Revival of the 1960s and 1970s and consequently are unique.

David Cook, sub-committee chair of Live Life Aberdeenshire, said: “We are delighted to accept this unique collection of local and national significance into the permanent

collections of Aberdeenshire Council Museums.

“Whilst the recordings are in good condition, they are threatened by physical degradation and some are stored on formats that can no longer be played. Being part of this national initiative will ensure some of our local recordings of Scots music will be digitally preserved and available to folk at home and abroad for future enjoyment and learning.”

Alastair Hardie, one of the trustees acting on behalf of the late John Junner, said: “In his will, John Junner asked for his collection to be kept ‘at a suitable location in northeast Scotland’.

"Ten years after his death, his wish has finally been fulfilled with this donation. Having the collection in the care of Aberdeenshire Council Museum Service will help to ensure the long-term wellbeing, development and accessibility of the John Junner Collection for posterity.”

The major grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund is allowing the network to develop a range of engagement activities to connect the wider public with their sound heritage. A key element of Unlocking Our Sound Heritage will be an interactive website hosted by the British Library, launching in 2020, allowing listeners to explore a wide selection of recordings.

Dr John Scally, Scotland’s National Librarian, said: “Our sound heritage is under threat as tapes, minidiscs and lacquer, vinyl and shellac discs degrade or equipment to play them becomes obsolete.

“This is a vitally important project that will help to save the nation’s sounds and preserve them to be enjoyed for many generations to come.”