Down the years, music of all types from Scotland has been internationally admired and enjoyed by audiences.

Far and wide the Scots’ ability to entertain with music, live or recorded, has never been muted.

From traditional bothy music to the bracing sounds of massed pipe bands, from classical offerings delivered by Nicola Benedetti to the onstage fervour of Biffy Clyro or the jangle tones of Teenage Fan Club, its influence is immense in so many, different ways.

Looking back, Scotland has produced individual entertainers such as Sir Harry Lauder, Moira Anderson, Andy Stewart and Kenneth McKellar who became household names at home and abroad through traditional song, and not just among exiled Scots in countries such as Canada and Australia.

In more recent times, bands like Runrig and Skerryvore have tapped into the historic sounds of Scotland, thrilling audiences wherever they play with their contemporary approach.

From the ever-buoyant folk scene, The Corries, Karine Polwart, The Battlefield Band, Archie Fisher, The McCalmans and more grace a lengthy cast list entertainingly flying the flag for Scottish music with pride and passion.

Today, however, a unique piece of music that is quite unlike anything that’s gone before from Scotland, is released.

Titled DRAM, it is composed solely of audio data gathered from emissions during the production of hand sanitisers.

Three young Scottish musicians have brought to life the music, which is 57 seconds long.

It consists only of data from the sanitisers’ ethanol emissions produced in Scotland’s distilleries, which were transferred to a specialised conversion file.

“DRAM is a musical tribute to the Scotch whisky industry for the contribution it has made in protecting us against COVID 19,” said Michael Taylor, of Venn Design Ltd, who developed the idea and commissioned the music.

“The piece has been composed directly from the volatile ethanol emission data from the sanitisers produced in Scotland’s distilleries,” said Mr Taylor, who is based in North Ayrshire.

“The evaporating emission is more commonly referred to as the ‘Angels Share’ during whisky maturation.

“Without a doubt, the efforts of distillers to produce sanitisers have helped prevent the transmission of COVID19, possibly to millions, whilst we wait for a vaccine to be produced.”

The mix of music and science is based on a Scottish folk tune ‘The Peat Fire Flame’ – it was arranged so that the peaks and troughs of the data, visualised as a graph, determined the speed and liveliness of the music.

“I was drawn to the idea of the musical tribute after investigating the possibility of monitoring for the first time, second by second, the emissions from whisky casks during the maturation process, and that work is ongoing,” said Mr Taylor, whose new company Venn Design Ltd is behind the research.

He collected the data over a three-day period at the tail end of May on Speyside.

The piece is performed by three young Scottish musicians, all of whom play with major UK orchestras – Taylor MacLennan on flute, Morag Robertson, viola and cellist, Deni Teo. 

The composer, Nick Moroz, converted the data and the players were filmed performing separately at home during lockdown but the edited video shows them playing side by side.
Mr Moroz liked the challenge and is pleased with the outcome.

“I wanted to make the piece ebb and flow, peak and dip to express effectively the use of the data in the music,” he said. “I have a wide interest in all types of music so I wanted it to be meaningful to convey the data gathered and to give it a Celtic connection.”

Flautist, Taylor MacLennan, was equally intrigued to be involved.

He said: “It was an unusual project but very interesting as well as the data Michael gathered shaped the sound of DRAM, the way it rises and falls creates a flow of moods. Recording in isolation was an experience as well.”