A sound installation of contemporary Scottish stories and music – touring August 2019 onwards

Commissioned by the Edinburgh International Book Festival supported by Creative Scotland

Bold, tender, full of old truths and distilled modern wit, 365: Stories and Music is an epic built on the beauty of the miniature. It’s a collaboration between artists steeped in tradition but constantly breaking new ground.

In 2013, James Robertson – one of Scotland’s leading authors – set himself the challenge of writing a short story every day for a year. Each story was to be 365 words, no more, no less. It became an enchanting, roaming collection of fairytales and memories and provocations published in 2014 by Penguin as 365:Stories. That was only the beginning.

Scottish fiddler and composer Aidan O’Rourke (of Lau) wrote a tune every day in response. The result is a major new body of 365 tunes – a significant addition to the Scottish traditional music canon. Aidan’s fiddle tunes are sparse and emotive; his playing is renowned for its lyricism, here paired with kaleidascopic harmonies from Mercury-nominated Kit Downes on harmonium and piano, guitarist Sorren Maclean and harpist Esther Swift.

The album 365: Volume 1 was released in May 2018. 365: Volume 2 will be released in August 2019.

James’s stories and Aidan’s music now form a touring installation. There are spoken-word recordings of all 365 stories: James reads many himself, and other storytellers include rich and varied accents from artists, actors and young people around Scotland. The installation was commissioned by the Edinburgh International Book Festival supported by Creative Scotland and PRSF, and launches in August 2019 before going on tour. The EIBF describes the project as “a piece about storytelling: about how to tell stories without saying too much.”

Designed by inventor Yann Seznec in collaboration with design team Old School Fabrications, the installation is a piece of art in itself, beautifully crafted from wood and brass with no digital screens in sight. It allows up to six people at a time to browse and listen to the stories and music using headphones, maybe stopping at their birthday or a day with special meaning.

From January 2020, readers can also receive a daily story and tune to be delivered to their email inbox. With no need to buy a CD or book, the 365 Stories and Music will arrive every day free of charge – a daily miniature piece of public art. A son might sign his mum up to receive a tune and short story every day via email. A tourist might fall in love with Scottish fiddle playing. Couples will nod in recognition to one of James’s wise tales; children will get the creeps from his ghost stories, budding composers might feel inspired to create their own 365 day challenge.

This project has grown in ways James Robertson couldn’t have imagined when he began writing his stories. It has become a vast, rich and multiform patchwork of fiction woven with stunning melody – an expansive catalogue of public art whose multimedia format means it can be enjoyed in numerous ways.


  1. 365: Stories and Music is a not-for-profit venture. Our thanks extend to Reveal Records and Penguin Books for allowing the music and stories to be included in the installation
  2. The installation is free; it is unticketed and will tour public spaces
  3. The website for the project will launch in May 2019 at
  4. Principal partner: Edinburgh International Book Festival
  5. Principal funder: Creative Scotland
  6. With support from: PRS for Music Foundation’s The Open Fund, the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Literature department, BBC Scotland, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Scottish Poetry Library.
  7. Live performances of 365 are also taking place, find full listings at
  8. Aidan O’Rourke, James Robertson and Kit Downes (directed by Shilpa T-Hyland) will be premiering a new 15- minute version of 365 as part of New Music Biennial 2019 at London Southbank and Hull.
  9. For further details, including press tickets, please contact Judith Walsh, Project Manager, 07976 531 117

Installation Tour Dates

The installation will begin at Edinburgh International Book Festival in Edinburgh in August 2019 then tour the country, including Wigtown Book Festival, Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Shetland Word Play Festival and many more. Tour dates will be posted at

About James Robertson:

James Robertson has published more than forty books and pamphlets, including novels, short stories, poetry, non-fiction and books in Scots for young readers. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University. He is a contributing author to and general editor of the Scots language children’s imprint Itchy Coo, for which he has translated works by A.A. Milne, Roald Dahl, Julia Donaldson and Alexander McCall Smith. His 2003 novel Joseph Knight won both the Saltire Society and Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year awards, The Testament of Gideon Mack (2006) was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and And the Land Lay Still (2010) was also the Saltire Society’s Book of the Year. His most recent book (2017) is Arrest This Moment, a biography of his friend, the late Dundee songwriter and performer, Michael Marra.

About Aidan O’Rourke

Aidan O’Rourke is a fiddler, composer, producer and curator. With his trio Lau, in multiple solo projects and in collaborations, he has pioneered a new sound in Scottish folk music and redefined traditional forms. He joined Blazin’ Fiddles in 2008; in 2010 he formed the quartet Kan with whistle player Brian Finnegan; in 2016 he formed a duo with the jazz pianist Kit Downes. Lau came together in 2006 and their debut album set a precedent for politically-charged folk music that expands the form and experiments with sound while staying rooted in tradition. They have released five critically-acclaimed studio albums and won Best Group at the BBC 2 Folk Awards an unprecedented four times. As a composer, Aidan is a three-time winner of the PRSF New Music Biennial commission at the Southbank Centre; other commissioners include the Scottish Ensemble, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Sage Gateshead. As a curator, Aidan has co-directed multiple editions of the Lau-Land festival.