Traditional Scottish Hip Hop

We had a fantastic time working with amazing YMI Borders Tutors on a Traditional Scottish Hip Hop training day. The idea came when Sara Alakus who is newly in post as YMI Creative Learning Officer in the Borders got in touch to ask about Tinderbox helping organise a Hip Hop project in a Borders primary school.

Sara explained that she was really keen to get some Hip Hop into the work that they are doing in the borders but was aware that it wasn’t exactly the genre of choice for the current tutors on the team. When she mentioned that the team are quite strong on Trad music Jed remembered a project he had seen recently at the Highland YMI day in Inverness. Jack Hughes and …. had been running a project that took a fiddle tune and used it as a basis of a track for writing rap.

The basic idea of the project was to put a Hip Hop beat under a traditional Scottish tune, teach a class to play the harmony chords and have the class write rap or spoken word to perform over it.


Jed asked Sara if she could go back to the team and ask if there was a suitable Borders tune that has a decent story associated with it that we could use as a subject for writing rap or spoken word about.

The team came back with the perfect tune, Tam Lin. It’s an epic borders ballad and with a cracking tune.

For the training we spent the morning working with tutors on techniques for helping pupils write rap and planning the afternoon session. In the afternoon we went to deliver our project in Newtown Primary School.

The whole thing went to plan with the pupils getting totally into the story and writing some brilliant words. They joined in on percussion, tuned percussion, keyboards and Ukeleles. We finished the day with a full performance of the finished piece. Check out the video below.

Everyone had an absolute blast!