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Scotland is internationally known for its traditional music, which has remained vibrant throughout the 20th century, when many traditional forms worldwide lost popularity to pop music. In spite of emigration and a well-developed connection to music imported from the rest of Europe and the United States, the music of Scotland has kept many of its traditional aspects; indeed, it has itself influenced many forms of music.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were signs of a revival, with composers such as Hamish MacCunn and William Wallace. However it is notable that many of these modernist composers (such as Francis George Scott or J. Murdoch Henderson) tended to concentrate on shorter forms (such as songs) rather than the more conventional fields of symphonies or operas. Since World War II, however, there has been something of a renaissance in Scottish music, with Robin Orr, Thomas Wilson, Thea Musgrave, Edward McGuire, James MacMillan, James Dillon, John McLeod, James Douglas and Judith Weir attracting international attention. In the field of movie soundtracks Muir Mathieson, Patrick Doyle and Craig Armstrong have achieved international renown. The English composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies currently lives in Orkney and runs a music festival there. The Edinburgh Festival each year brings some of the best musicians in the world to Scotland.

Scotland has provided the inspiration for international composers, most notably Felix Mendelssohn, Benjamin Britten and Sir Malcolm Arnold. Britten in particular arranged several Scottish folk songs for voice and piano as well as the orchestral Scottish Ballad, a reworking of the old hymn tune Dundee. .

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