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Distil is a twice yearly gathering of musicians rooted in folk and traditional music, but who are interested in expanding their creative horizons into other other areas of musical practice. With the continuing success of Celtic Connections’ New Voices programme, and with other commissioning opportunities, an increasing number of musicians is becoming interested in creating music that goes beyond the boundaries of 32 bar dance and traditional song forms.

Distil, which was established in 2002, allows musicians to work with experienced practitioners from other music worlds: jazz, orchestral, contemporary, in a mutual exchange of ideas and experience.

The number of professional musicians playing traditional and tradition-based music in Scotland has been growing steadily since the mid 1980s, a growth that is likely to continue with the establishment of courses (certificate and degree) at Scottish universities and colleges.

One consequence of this increase has been not only the production of much new music in the folk idiom, but also an expansion of interest in producing work influenced and inspired by traditional music, but with wide scope and ambitious aims not necessarily satisfied by the restricted formal requirements of dance music and folk song. The innovative aspect of the current situation is that this new work is being done by musicians who either consciously describe themselves as folk or traditional musicians, or who, due to their collaboration and mixing with open minded musicians from every genre, eschew any kind of classification.

Distil was set up to provide these musicians with the opportunity to take time out from their busy schedules, to make time to learn from practised musicians in other fields had to use this new information in their own projects.