Louise Bichan shares photographs of natural landscapes from her numerous travels that have inspired her music making


Fiddlecam at the Badlands National Park

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Louise Bichan is a US-based Scottish musician and photographer who uses both mediums to tell stories old and new.

Growing up in the culturally rich Orkney islands gave Louise a solid grounding in music, where she began playing the fiddle aged seven. Since then she has honed her craft at Glasgow’s session scene while studying at the city’s Art School, before winning a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, Boston.

Bichan blends traditional and classical arrangements and composes in response to her roots and the world around her. Here, she presents a series of photographs alongside tales of her musical journey over her career.

The Lost Summer – photography from the 2020 US road trip

The title track of my new record, The Lost Summer, was written in 2020, while I was feeling particularly homesick during the pandemic, as I am based in the US. My siblings were all home in Orkney that summer, helping around the family farm and going on camping trips in the isles when lockdown rules permitted it. I felt further away than ever, missing them and the beautiful Orkney landscapes and wrote this tune feeling sorry for myself.

However, in the end I had a memorable summer, road tripping from coast to coast, camping in National Forests in an old Volvo and seeing some incredible scenes. Taking advantage of a year pass for the National Parks, I saw Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Olympic, Mount Rainier, Bryce Canyon, Arches and a few more. The US is a most incredible land and seeing the terrain change so drastically as we drove and hiked around it was inspiring and fascinating. A few months of living pretty much outdoors, with as little in the car as we could get away with was challenging and freeing at the same time.


Bryce Canyon National Park


Fiddlecam at Zion National Park


Rialto Beach - Olympic National Park

I did bring my fiddle along though; for several years now, I have had a wee side project in Fiddlecam, where I mount a GoPro to my fiddle, looking down the neck and take videos playing tunes in interesting landscapes. I took many Fiddlecam videos during the trip and have created a video to go along with another track from the album, Deltingside.


 The Watch Stone/Arnie’s 80th - Orkney landscapes, including Ring of Brodgar


The Ness of Brodgar

The Watch Stone was written by one of Orkney’s finest fiddlers, Jennifer Wrigley. I grew up listening to the Wrigley Sisters and seeing them play at the Orkney Folk Festival. As a youngster, as well as being taught by Douglas Montgomery in school, I learned from Jenny at the Orkney Traditional Music Project and a little later, she helped me to get started with teaching my own students at The Reel, the Wrigley Sisters’ Centre of Music in Kirkwall. Along with Jennifer Austin, I set up a weekly Teen Sessions at the Reel, where young musicians could meet and play music together in a pub session style setting, but with hot chocolates instead of beers! I thought it would be fitting to play this tune of Jenny’s, with Jen joining me on the piano, along with my cousin, fiddler Alice Tait.

Hoy5 copy

The Old Man of Hoy

The Watch Stone is a neolithic standing stone which is positioned between Orkney’s two biggest lochs (Harray and Stenness lochs) and between the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar. We then go into a jig which Alice and I co-wrote for the occasion of Arnie’s 80th birthday – ’Gramps’ to Alice, ’Uncle Arnie’ to me. Alice spent a year studying in Gothenburg in Sweden, we worked up this tune while I was there visiting her. I thought this tune was extra fitting, as I grew up regularly visiting Arnie and Ola, who lived right next to the Watchstone; their back garden is now the site of the Ness of Brodgar excavation site! 

We spent a lovely afternoon working up these two tunes and recorded them in Jen’s living room in Kirkwall – it was all quite spontaneous and just a joy to play music with Jen and Alice.

Pinnacle – general Scottish landscapes


The Whangie, Kilpatrick Hills

This is a set of tunes that have been favourites of mine for a couple years now, which I dedicate to my fiddler friends who made me aware of them. Northumberland musician Roger Peppé wrote Pinnacle Ridge for his parents, for the occasion of their ruby wedding anniversary, after an adventure ascending the Pinnacle Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean, on the isle of Skye. A lot of my favourite tunes have come into my life because of the brilliant Laura Wilkie, this one included. Laura and I had the pleasure of playing together in Scottish songstress Rachel Sermanni’s band for some years. We had a lot of great adventures!


Jerry Holland was one of the greats of the fiddle world, a fantastic Cape Breton fiddler and composer of so many brilliant tunes. I learned Musical Chisholm Household from Sean Wood – another fantastic fiddler, who I met at Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon fiddle camp in California and love to play tunes with.



Little Donald in the Pigpen is an old traditional tune which I learned thanks to the wonderful Katie McNally. A few years ago, Katie and I, along with Laura Wilkie and Jenna Moynihan put together a set of fiddle tunes from both sides the Atlantic for Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, Scotland. We were accompanied by Annie Massie on guitar and Natalie Haas on cello. It was one of my favourite shows to date, an absolute honour to play with these incredible musicians in the project, which we named Apiary.

Louise Bichan’s album The Lost Summer will be released on 5 April 2024.

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