Edinburgh was, in the eighteenth century, the centre of music publication in Scotland. Even then, relatively few musical works were issued there by subscription, and, by 1820, only around forty musical works had been published there for which a list of subscribers survives. An analysis of these lists, in comparison to those issued in London, indicates that an usually high proportion of subscribers were women, a datum that underscores the different characteristics of the Enlightenment culture between the two cities. Several of the local musicians produced works that catered for the demand for new material by amateur women musicians, including John Watlen.
Watlen entered the Edinburgh music trade in the mid-1780s and, by 1793, had his own music shop. From there he sold instruments and printed music, publishing a significant amount of it himself. He also issued two works by subscription, both of which are collections of circus music (1791 and 1798). This chapter discusses the subscription method in Edinburgh, Watlen's business, and how his published musical works catered for the local demand. There is also a focus on his Circus Tunes, examining his subscribers, and commenting on the music they contain. This study reveals that Edinburgh's women played an active role in the city's musical life. They were not only patrons and composers, but some had their music publicly performed as part of the spectacle that was the Edinburgh circus.