promo 6 When the Song Dies

When the Song Dies

When songs are lost, so too are memories. This film finds Scottish folklore on the brink of being forgotten

Deerstalker Films/Transgressive North

15 minutes

When the Song Dies

  • In Scotland, folk songs serve as memories, of places and the dead who once inhabited them. Exploring the theme of change, When the Song Dies seeks to bring the audience under the captive spell of the old ways. Featuring a range of contributors, the film is a poignant reminder that the dead linger on, all around us, in the houses and landscapes we live in, and in the language and music of our culture.

    Whilst Scottishness is at the heart of the film, this story  is as universal as it is specific. It is the story of a culture that is, like so many, in danger of fading from human memory.

  • Director Biography:

    Jamie Chambers came to filmmaking after 8 years studying music at St Mary’s Music School and Oxford University. He is the Artistic Director of Transgressive North, a Scottish artistic community. Jamie is passionate about making films in and about Scotland, and under the umbrella of TN’s Strange Home project, hopes to bring Scottish folklore to a new generation through the medium of cinema.

  • Director: Jamie Chambers
  • Producer: James Barrett
  • Editor: Martin McEwan
  • Cinematographer: John Craine

  • Running Time: 15 minutes
  • Language: English, Scots Gaelic
  • Website:

Add your own review…

  • Jackie Wallace

    beautiful imagery like the symbolism of our songs…it’s time to sing…

  • Museum of British Folklore

    An incredibly moving portrait of a people for whom the magical realm is never far away and the veil between the worlds is thin. Thank you from all of us at the Museum of British Folklore.

  • Mary

    As a Scot living in NZ your film brought a tear to my eye, truly wonderful. All is not lost, I have found that many New Zealanders of Scots and Irish descent are passionate about their roots and the culture. Many Scottish groups and societies preserve the culture that emigrated with their great grandparents.
    The knowledge of some of them shames me!

  • GC

    Beautiful film and meaningful statement that all who are heirs of a traditional culture especially among the Celtic nations ( I am from Brittany) will understand first hand.
    Fortunately a tremendous effort of collecting this precious expression has taken place and even if every single singer leaving this world is a bit like loosing a library to a fire, it is true that at least part of this memory will be passed to the next generation adding to its own creation. It’s what we did in Brittany despite the french acculturation efforts, and 500 centuries in the assault, we are still here, singing our tradition, inventing the new one. I am certain the great Scottish people does the same, as much as possible. We all do it not only for ourselves, but because this memory is the seeds of humanity. GC

  • Dawn Nickerson

    Beautiful. . It reminds me of my home ln Nova Scotia. . Thank you

  • Patrick

    Congratulations to all concerned! Maith sibh!

  • Denise McCluskey Croker


  • patricia

    such a beautiful documentary! as a historian who works on popoular culture topics, this film succeeds in highlighting the need to preseerve these old voices. thank you!!!

  • Virginia Clough

    some of my siblings don’t understand why I still sing some of the songs our dad used to sing. try to tell them it was our heritage and we should pass it to our kids and grandkids. my youngest grandson has tried to learn a couple of the songs ( he’s 9 years old) these are our treasures and without them how do they know where they came from ?

  • Allison Mackenzie

    What a beautiful gathering of Scottish elders reminding me that its OK to reiterate the songs, sayings and teachings taught to me by my Grannie and Grandpa that I hold close to my heart to my children. Thankx you for truly capturing the need to keep the songs alive. Blessings to my Granny’s heeland hame and may yir lum yie reek ..

  • Вера Янкова-

    This film touched my heart We should not live in the past but we must not forget it

  • Catherine Coates

    The faces repeat… I have known these faces before… and the voices too are familiar, in a “soul deep” way that defies explanation. My favorite line is “It’s not all lament… there’s still fight and optimism in there.” That’s how I live too… there’s always optimism.

  • Odo MacRaibert

    It brought back a memory of my grandmother “Mom Montgomery” singing with her teeth out, cooking breakfast on a stove (converted from coal), an experience echoed decades later watching Han MacLeod in the Highlands. Culture is of great value, needing to be honored.

  • Mila

    Their eyes made me cry , their songs made me smile , and all of it made me think about huge and unique world we lose with each soul departed

  • Julie Rose

    So touching and beautiful!!!

  • Aislingean Beag

    The film is good but does not portray an accurate picture of the state of Scottish Folklore!
    Those like Margaret and Sheila may hold differing views and many tradition bearers, folklorists and active ‘Folkies’ will have their own views. Folklore is active, it evolves continuously.
    Scotlands folklore is in good health. Have a look here and prepare to be amazed!

  • Monika

    It is sad that in today’s world no one carries on the Traditions of there Cultures. Families and Traditions are fading, then we wonder why the world is in such chaos . It does seem like some cultures are making a great effort. Love to hear the stories and songs of Scotland. And love the Gaelic.

  • Jesse

    Wonderfully Beautiful <3 Hauntings are kind.

  • Sandy Durand

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  • Caitlin Matthews

    While some songs are lost, the song itself is wandering bird that alights on trees and shoulders not yet born, bypassing time and space. These wonderful songs and sendings are from the soul of the ancestors. May they live long!

  • Baldy Mhor

    Sad, poignant and a graphic illustration of the realisation that the most important things in life come too late.
    Oscar was probably right when he said “Youth is wasted on the young” .

  • Wouter

    Really beautiful both in sound and image. A spiritual world floating out of our reach, unfortunately.

  • Matthew

    In 1863 the first of my family arrived in New Zealand from the British Isles. They came in search of a better life for themselves and their children. Six generations later that aspiration has largely been fulfilled – but what was lost? The cultural inheritance that was garnered by the survival of their antecedents over eons was left behind. Perhaps consciously, not wishing to be reminded of bad times past, the family’s spiritual well-spring was sealed. Now all we have is the echo of names of our forebears and their places of origin, fragments of stories that lack coherence and a sense that our genesis occurred 150 years ago. We have much to rejoice in and yet much to lament. The moral : work hard to pass on your stories and song because they are as much of you as is the colour of your eyes or the way you cry.

  • Ben

    A wonderful documentary. So important to seek these stories out. Older people are unfashionable, but there stories are so interesting.

  • Lorna

    Poignant, and beautifully filmed. Brought into sharp focus the stories my mother told of “the Broonie” and unexplained happenings she experienced when she was a child living on Shuna….and fond recollections of her singing to us when we were young……She died this year, and yes, those memories have gone with her, although her spirit and that of my father live on in the sea and the wind of the west coast

  • Lori Renfro

    This is a beautiful video. It literally moved me to tears. Cheers to Jamie Chambers for creating such a wonderful documentation of the old ways, songs and language. May they never really die.

  • Mhairi

    The lady with the black hair is Sheila Stewart, my father’s cousin. He is very good at telling ‘the old tales’ as well. I used to love being in bed at night getting a story, except he aye fell asleep before the end!

  • Debbie

    Really lovely! I’m moved to capture the songs inside me. Thank you

  • Kim

    Beautiful – love the images and the sincerity. Thanks so much Jamie!

  • Brian Cunningham

    Stunning N Captivating ! What Of A Future Without The Traditions Carrying On ! Sadly Too Many Rest With Our Forefathers

  • Khat

    This film is so captivating and the haunting melodies of history must not melt away. It is so important to preserve the songs our elders have passed down to us. Keeping the songs alive keeps their legacies alive. Everyone wants to be in touch our roots and the songs are such a perfect way to feel our past and bring it to life.

  • Gill Smith

    This is one of the most touching films I have seen – as an archaeologist – prehistorian I feel very passionate about recording the traditions and folklore from around Britain before it is lost. I am travelling around North Wales talking to people about their encounters with the spirit world and the past .It is amazing how people will open up and share their stories even if they haven’t told them before . That thin veil is always there and this actually moved me to tears – thank you so much for sharing this

  • simon

    wonderful film

  • Amanda Carder

    I seen so many of my family in this film it was beautifully done. O how i miss the lovely banks of Scotland and the old ways.
    So close to my heart and yet so haunting to my soul.

  • John Gerald Campbell

    Such echos resound that touch the soul of ages! The beauty of the music inspires. I remember the night before my father died, he sat beside me and hugged me. He said to take care of my mother because she would need me. He smiled and kissed my forehead as my mom and I left the hospital for the night. The doctors had told him he would go home the next day. It was our last parting, but I know he still comes to call.

  • Theresa Turner Seaberg

    Extremely moving, thought provoking, thank you for this experience.

  • Samm Gillies

    Deeply familiar…close to my heart and the western highlands from where my mother’s family lived.
    Wonderful and realistic.

  • Tiit Maran

    Amazing film. Shooting like brilliant photographs, sound and the story .. . and the message …. everything

  • Bob Gagnon

    I’ll have to watch it many times before I really get it!

  • John Carter

    I was staggered to find I was looking at myself in one of the faces in this nostalgic and wonderful film.

  • Bill O'Byrne

    Lovely. Thanks for that.

  • Patti

    I was so touched by this film. The film has left me with the urge to document the songs and sayings that I know were handed down to me. I wonder how many treasures are lost because we do not think to write them down or record them…a song, a poem, superstitions..we all have family favorites. I just wanted to hug the participants in this film..they were so real and naturally genuine. There were I watched this film that I could see those Vikings from long ago. Lovely piece of film..thank you!

  • Kimberley

    So beautiful and true. I could see the faces of my own elders and feel their presence.
    thank you

  • Golden Wonder

    Ah !!it was!!!

  • Golden Wonder

    great! and the sound crédits?