Routes to Roots


Routes To Roots is an international folk music sharing project conceived by Scottish violin, harp and vocal duo Twelfth Day. The project sees Borders harpist Esther Swift and Orcadian violinist Catriona Price travel around the world, sharing folk music traditions with local musicians. The aim is to create a network of like-minded folk musicians across continents, all interested in preserving different cultures and learning from each other. Following their initial trips to Quebec, Malawi, Brazil, and Mongolia, Twelfth Day will create new music with a small group from each place. These collaborations shall be released as a series of EPs before all four groups meet up in the UK to fuse them together into one big piece celebrating cultural diversity and international collaboration.

Following this initial collaboration, Twelfth Day will continue to build this network of cross-cultural exchange, encouraging sharing, preservation and learning between as many cultures as possible.  Some traditions are in danger of dying out due to the growth of media fed, money driven western pop-music culture, which is resulting in a massive cultural loss across the world.  Catriona and Esther are on a mission to protect these traditions, and want Routes to Roots to always remain musician-lead and to be focused on the wealth of cultual exchange.

The idea for Routes To Roots came whilst sitting in Esther’s flat one rainy winter’s afternoon in 2010. Catriona and Esther had long been interested in the folk music of different cultures and how it relates and differs to the music they grew up with in Scotland. They began to discuss the idea that while folk music sounds radically different throughout the world, its ethos is the same – sharing, community, identity and tradition.  So far the project has thrown up inumerable exciting collaborative possibilities, new and unique combinations of sounds, colours and textures, and many treasured friendships.  And this is only the beginning. The potential scale of this project is incredibly exciting and the rewards could be life changing…

Watch Twelfth Day’s video diaries from their initial trips for Routes To Roots: