Bannal is a Glasgow-based group dedicated to singing traditional Gaelic waulking songs. They take the songs back to their original context, producing a sound close to the original archive recordings. Eight of the women take turns in the role of leader, keeping the sound of the vocals varied and interesting. The rest of the women form the chorus for the response, sometimes adding in sounds of excitement in response to the lyrics of the songs. The rhythmic beating is prominent, as is required for authenticity, but not so overbearing as to cover any of the wonderful vocals.
Bannal has many well known singers. They are: Kenna Campbell, Catherine Fletcher, Christine Grant, Wilma Kennedy, Mairi MacArthur, Chrissie MacInnes, Maeve MacKinnon and Mary C MacLean.
When tweed is made, it needs to be 'fulled' or waulked to increase its ability to keep out the wind. Waulking is a process of repeatedly beating the cloth to full it and prepare it for use. Waulking songs are a musical form unknown elsewhere in Western Europe and often sound African. They are very rhythmic and were composed to keep the beat when the cloth was being waulked. This task was only done by women in Scotland.
The women were usually seated around a table and the tweed would be placed on the table, or perhaps a door which had been taken off its hinges. There might be one woman at each end and maybe about 4-5 down each side. One person would sing out the verse and then everyone would join in the chorus. During the waulking, the cloth would be pulled towards you, then passed slightly to your left before pushing it back. This way, the cloth turned round the table in a clockwise manner as it was being waulked. The Gaels are superstitious and believe anti-clockwise to be unlucky. It was important to turn the cloth to ensure the cloth was evenly processed. Often waulking songs were adapted from other songs.