Musician and composer;
Born: November 11, 1952; Died: October 16, 2012.
Ian Hardie, who has died aged 59 after a long illness, was one of Scotland's best-loved fiddle players and a talented and prolific composer whose tunes are played across Europe and North America as well at home in concerts and informal sessions.
He was born in Edinburgh and at the age of six began taking classical violin lessons, which he continued until, at 14, he became interested in traditional music.
On leaving school he studied law at Edinburgh University and was soon involved in extracurricular studies in the seat of learning that was Sandy Bell's bar in nearby Forrest Road.
The nightly informal sessions there in the early 1970s forged friendships and folk groups and he was a prominent participant, going on to play across Scotland with Chorda and Wee Willum and featuring on the acclaimed Live at Sandy Bell's album with the pub's ceilidh band. Towards the end of the 1970s, several members of Wee Willum formed a band that was to have a lasting influence on the Scottish traditional music scene, Jock Tamson's Bairns.
Featuring Hardie alongside Norman Chalmers, John Croall, Tony Cuffe, Jack Evans, Adam Jack and Rod Paterson, the Bairns, as they were affectionately known, released their first, eponymous album on Temple Records in 1980.
Their modern, acoustic interpretations of exclusively Scottish music swam against the tide of Irish influences that had come in with groups like Planxty and the Bothy Band, and after a personnel change that saw Derek Hoy join Ian on fiddle and guitarist Tony Cuffe go off to join Ossian, they recorded their classic second album, The Lasses Fashion.
Still regarded as one of the finest examples of the traditional music revival in Scotland, it gained a certain caché when the great guitarist-singer-songwriter Richard Thompson named it one of the 10 best albums of all time in a Q magazine feature.
Shortly after the album's release, the Bairns temporarily retired. Hardie, by now living in the Borders where he worked as a lawyer, continued to compose tunes in the traditional style – some of them, he confessed just a few weeks before he died, in his office in Kelso where, on occasion, he'd take his mind off matters legal by having a tune on his fiddle. His dozens of compositions went on to fill three books, which are regarded as go-to sources by musicians looking for Scottish repertoire.
In 1986 he recorded his first solo album, A Breath of Fresh Airs, which he followed with A Breath of Fresher Airs in 1992 and The Spider's Web duo album with pianist Andy Thorburn in 1998. An excellent player of the smallpipes as well as the fiddle, he also teamed up with accordionist Freeland Barbour in the long-running dance band The Occasionals, featured in the Ghillies and in 1994, having moved to Nairn and joined Janice Clark and Dagger Gordon in Highland Connection, he played fiddle, viola, double bass and smallpipes on the group's Gaining Ground album.
His fiddle expertise led to him guesting on recordings by singers Isla St Clair and Margaret Stewart and piper Hamish Moore, and after rejoining Jock Tamson's Bairns for their 1990s renaissance, he contributed hugely to their albums May You Never Lack A Scone and Rare. He also taught some of Scotland's best young fiddle talents, including Mike Vass, and edited the Nineties Collection, a volume of new compositions written in the traditional style.
He gave up law to concentrate on music in 2001 and two years later, following a trip to the Smithsonian Fiddle Festival in Washington DC with the Occasionals, he conceived what many consider to be his masterpiece, Westringing.
The album explored the connections between Appalachian old-time fiddle music and the Scottish and Irish repertoire and featured him playing entirely solo, using altered fiddle and viola tunings and capturing the landscapes and sounds of the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as portraying the grandeur of the Highlands where he'd made his home.
He continued playing with the Occasionals until the brain tumour with which he'd been diagnosed curtailed his gigging activity. Always a gentleman, he bore his illness with great dignity and was looking forward to being inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Scots Trad Music Awards in Fort William in December. Ian Hardie is survived by his wife, Viv, and children Andrew and Fiona.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.