Archive spotlight - Paterson's Publications

Paterson's Dance Orchestra


It's probably not too much of an exaggeration to say that James Michael Diack (pictured) was the catalyst for the formation of the RSCDS.  The Managing Director of Paterson’s Publications (a Glasgow-based music publisher), he arranged the initial meeting between The Society's co-founders.

Mr Diack’s son recalled an event in 1923:

“I remember so well the day when Mrs Stewart called at my father’s office in Glasgow and told him about the idea of a Scottish Country Dance Society. He at once thought of Jean Milligan whom he knew very well through his work as Superintendent of Music in Schools.  He introduced the two of them, I think the same day, and they were both very grateful”.

It was this meeting of Ysobel Stewart and Jean Milligan that led to the Scottish Country Dance Society being established on the 26th November, 1923.

Paterson’s Publications of Glasgow, through Diack, provided a start-up fund of £300 to get the Society established and to cover the cost of publishing the Society’s first book of dances. Paterson’s published books 1 to 5 for the Society, with the music being arranged by Michael Diack.

There was an orchestra associated with the company called Paterson’s Dance Orchestra and quite early on they made a recording of the Eightsome Reel for the Society.  The recording, due to the length of the dance and the recording technology available at the time, is split over two discs.  The date is unknown but is probably mid to late 1920s or possibly early 1930s.

The RSCDS currently holds a copy of this record in the Archive at Coates Crescent, but a digital version is now available online for you to listen to (complete with distinctive crackles!) - play the Soundcloud playlist below to hear both records.

Part 1: Fairy Dance, Deil Amang the Tailors, The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Part 2: Speed the Plough, Soldier’s Joy, The Fairy Queen


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Questions about this article?  Get in touch with the Archivist, Alan MacPherson:



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