Folk Music of Ireland

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<ul><li><p>Folk music of Ireland 1</p><p>Folk music of IrelandThe folk music of Ireland (also known as Irish traditional music, Irish trad, Irish folk music, and other variants)is the generic term for music that has been created in various genres in Ireland.</p><p>HistoryIn Topographia Hibernica (1188), Gerald de Barri conceded that the Irish were more skilled at playing music thanany other nation he had seen. He claimed that the two main instruments used at this time were the "harp" and "tabor"(see bodhrn), that their music was fast and lively, and that their songs always began and ended with B-flat.[1]</p><p>In A History of Irish Music (1905), W. H. Grattan Flood wrote that, in Gaelic Ireland, there were at least teninstruments in general use. These were the cruit (a small harp) and clairseach (a bigger harp with typically 30strings), the timpan (a small string instrument played with a bow or plectrum), the feadan (a fife), the buinne (anoboe or flute), the guthbuinne (a bassoon-type horn), the bennbuabhal and corn (hornpipes), the cuislenna (bagpipes- see Great Irish Warpipes), the stoc and sturgan (clarions or trumpets), and the cnamha (castanets).[2] There is alsoevidence of the fiddle being used in the 8th century.[2]</p><p>There are several collections of Irish folk music from the 18th century, but it was not until the 19th century thatballad printers became established in Dublin. Important collectors include Colm Lochlainn, George Petrie, EdwardBunting, Francis O'Neill, Canon James Goodman and many others. Though solo performance is preferred in the folktradition, bands or at least small ensembles have probably been a part of Irish music since at least the mid-19thcentury, although this is a point of much contention among ethnomusicologists.Irish traditional music has survived more strongly against the forces of cinema, radio and the mass media than theindigenous folk music of most European countries. This was possibly due to the fact that the country was not ageographical battleground in either of the two world wars. Another potential factor was that the economy was largelyagricultural, where oral tradition usually thrives. From the end of the second world war until the late fifties folkmusic was held in low regard. Comhaltas Ceoltir ireann (an Irish traditional music association) and the popularityof the Fleadh Cheoil (music festival) helped lead the revival of the music. The English Folk music scene alsoencouraged and gave self-confidence to many Irish musicians. Following the success of The Clancy Brothers in theUSA in 1959, Irish folk music became fashionable again. The lush sentimental style of singers such as Delia Murphywas replaced by guitar-driven male groups such as The Dubliners. Irish showbands presented a mixture of pop musicand folk dance tunes, though these died out during the seventies. The international success of The Chieftains andsubsequent musicians and groups has made Irish folk music a global brand.Historically much old-time music of the USA grew out of the music of Ireland, England and Scotland, as a result ofcultural diffusion. By the 1970s Irish traditional music was again influencing music in the USA and further afield inAustralia and Europe. It has occasionally been fused with rock and roll, punk rock and other genres, as in certainrecordings of Horslips, Thin Lizzy, The Corrs, The Chieftains, Enya, Clannad, Riverdance, and Van Morrison.</p></li><li><p>Folk music of Ireland 2</p><p>Music for singingLike all traditional music, Irish folk music has changed slowly. Most folk songs are less than two hundred years old.One measure of its age is the language used. Modern Irish songs are written in English and Irish. Most of the oldestsongs and tunes are rural in origin and come from the older Irish language tradition. Modern songs and tunes oftencome from cities and towns, Gaeltacht and English-speaking Ireland.Unaccompanied vocals are called sean ns ("in the old style") and are considered the ultimate expression oftraditional singing. This is usually performed solo (very occasionally as a duet). Sean-ns singing is highlyornamented and the voice is placed towards the top of the range. A true sean-ns singer will vary the melody ofevery verse, but not to the point of interfering with the words, which are considered to have as much importance asthe melody. To the first-time listener, accustomed to pop and classical singers, sean-ns often sounds more "Arabic"or "Indian" than "Western".Non-sean-ns traditional singing, even when accompaniment is used, uses patterns of ornamentation and melodicfreedom derived from sean-ns singing, and, generally, a similar voice placement.</p><p>Caoineadh SongsThe term Caoineadh/ki:n/ is an Irish language term which translates as crying/weeping. The Caoineadh-type songis therefore a lament song which is typified by lyrics which stress sorrow and pain. Traditionally, the Caoineadhsong contained lyrics in which the singer lamented for Ireland after having been forced to emigrate due to political orfinancial reasons. The song may also lament the loss of a loved one (particularly a fair woman). Many Caoineadhsongs have their roots/basis in The Troubles of Northern Ireland with particular reference to the presence of theBritish military during this period. Examples of Caoineadh songs include: Far Away in Australia, The Town I lovedSo Well and Four Green Fields.Caoineadh singers were originally paid to lament for the departed at funerals, according to a number of Irish sources.</p><p>Music for dancingIrish traditional music was largely meant (to the best of our current knowledge) for dancing at celebrations forweddings, saint's days or other observances. Tunes are most usually divided into two eight-bar strains which are eachplayed as many times as the performers feel is appropriate; Irish dance music is isometric. (16 measures are knownas a "step", with one 8 bar strain for a "right foot" and the second for the "left foot" of the step. Tunes that are not soevenly divided are called "crooked".) This makes for an eminently danceable music, and Irish dance has been widelyexported abroad.Traditional dances and tunes include reels (4/4), hornpipes (4/4 with swung eighth notes), and jigs (double and singlejigs are in 6/8 time), as well as imported waltzes, mazurkas, polkas, and highlands or barndances (a sort of Irishversion of the Scottish strathspey). Jigs come in various other forms for dancing the slip jig and hop jig arecommonly written in 9/8 time, the slide in 12/8. (The dance the hop jig is no longer performed under the auspices ofAn Coimisiun.) The forms of jig danced in hardshoe are known as double or treble jigs (for the doubles/treblesperformed with the tip of the hardshoe), and the jigs danced in ghillies/pomps/slippers are known as light jigs.Polkas are a type of 2/4 tune mostly found in the Sliabh Luachra area, at the border of Cork and Kerry, in the southof Ireland. Another distinctive Munster rhythm is the Slide, like a fast single jig in 12/8 time. The main differencesbetween these types of tunes are in the time signature, tempo, and rhythmic emphasis. It should be noted that, as anaural music form, Irish traditional music is rather artificially confined by time signatures, which are not reallycapable of conveying the particular emphasis for each type of tune. An easy demonstration of this is any attempt tonotate a slow air on the musical stave. Similarly, attempts by classically trained musicians to play traditional musicby reading the common transcriptions are almost unrecognizable - the transcriptions exist only as a kind ofshorthand.</p></li><li><p>Folk music of Ireland 3</p><p>The concept of 'style' is of large importance to Irish traditional musicians. At the start of the last century, distinctvariation in regional styles of performance existed. With increased communications and travel opportunities,regional styles have become more standardised, with soloists aiming now to create their own, unique, distinctivestyle, often hybrids of whatever other influences the musician has chosen to include within their style.Due to the importance placed on the melody in Irish music, harmony should be kept simple (although, fitting withthe melodic structure of most Irish tunes, this usually does not mean a "basic" I-IV-V chord progression), andinstruments are played in strict unison, always following the leading player. True counterpoint is mostly unknown totraditional music, although a form of improvised "countermelody" is often used in the accompaniments of bouzoukiand guitar players. Much of the local character of a style comes from the type of decoration that is added to a tune.</p><p>Instruments used in traditional Irish musicThe guitar and bouzouki only entered the traditional Irish music world in the late 1960s. The word bodhrn,indicating a drum, is first mentioned in a translated English document in the 17th century,.[3] The 4-string tenorbanjo, first used by Irish musicians in the US in the 1920s, is now fully accepted. Cilidh bands of the 1940s oftenincluded a drum set and stand-up bass as well as saxophones. Neither the drum kit nor the sax are accepted bypurists, though the banjo is. Traditional harp-playing died out in the late 18th century, and was revived by theMcPeake Family of Belfast, Derek Bell, Mary O'Hara and others in the mid-20th century. Although oftenencountered, it plays a fringe role in Irish Traditional music.Instruments such as button accordion and concertina made their appearances in Irish traditional music late in the 19thcentury. There is little evidence for the concert flute having played much part in traditional music. Traditionalmusicians prefer the wooden simple-style instrument to the Boehm-system of the modern orchestra. Themass-produced tin whistle is acceptable. A good case can be made that the Irish traditional music of the year 2006had much more in common with that of the year 1906 than that of the year 1906 had in common with the music ofthe year 1806.There is a three-cornered debate about which instruments are acceptable. Purists generally favour the line-up that canbe heard on albums by The Chieftains, The Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners, and The Bothy Band. Modernists acceptthe drum kit of The Pogues and The Corrs, and the electric guitars of Horslips. Classically-influenced composerssuch as Mchel Silleabhin and David Downes will accept the piano.</p><p>Fiddle</p><p>A fiddle and bow</p><p>One of the most important instruments in the traditional repertoire, thefiddle (or violin - there is no physical difference) is played differentlyin widely-varying regional styles.[4] It uses the standard GDAE tuning.The best-known regional fiddling traditions are from Donegal, Sligo,Sliabh Luachra and Clare.</p><p>The fiddling tradition of Sligo is perhaps most recognizable tooutsiders, due to the popularity of American-based performers like LadO'Beirne, Michael Coleman, John McGrath, James Morrison andPaddy Killoran. These fiddlers did much to popularise Irish music inthe States in the 1920s and 1930s. Other Sligo fiddlers included MartinWynne and Fred Finn.</p><p>Notable fiddlers from Clare include Mary Custy, Yvonne Casey, PaddyCanny, Bobby Casey, John Kelly, Patrick Kelly, Peadar O'Loughlin,Pat O'Connor, Martin Hayes and P. Joe Hayes.</p></li><li><p>Folk music of Ireland 4</p><p>Donegal has produced James Byrne, Vincent Campbell, John Doherty, and Con Cassidy.Sliabh Luachra, a small area between Kerry and Cork, is known for Julia Clifford, her brother Denis Murphy, SeanMaguire, Paddy Cronin and Padraig O'Keeffe. Contemporary fiddlers from Sliabh Luachra include Matt Cranitch,Gerry Harrington and Connie O'Connell, while Dubliner Samus Creagh, actually from Westmeath, is imbued in thelocal style.Modern performers include Kevin Burke, Maire Breatnach, Matt Cranitch, Paddy Cronin, Frankie Gavin, PaddyGlackin, Cathal Hayden, Martin Hayes, Peter Horan, Sean Keane, James Kelly, Mairad N Mhaonaigh, BrendanMulvihill, Mairead Nesbitt, Gerry O'Connor, Caoimhn Raghallaigh, and Paul O'Shaughnessy.There have been many notable fiddlers from United States in recent years such as Winifred Horan, Brian Conway,[5]</p><p>Liz Carroll, and Eileen Ivers.</p><p>Flute and whistle</p><p>Tin whistles, and a low whistle (right), ina variety of makes and keys</p><p>The flute has been an integral part of Irish traditional music since roughly themiddle of the 19th century, when art musicians largely abandoned the woodensimple-system flute (having a conical bore, and fewer keys) for the metalBoehm system flutes of present-day classical music.</p><p>Although the choice of the Albert-system, wooden flute over the metal wasinitially driven by the fact that, being "outdated" castoffs, the old flutes wereavailable cheaply second-hand, the wooden instrument has a distinct soundand continues to be commonly preferred by traditional musicians to this day.A number of excellent playersJoanie Madden being perhaps the bestknownuse the Western concert flute, but many others find that the simplesystem flute best suits traditional fluting. Original flutes from the pre-Boehmera continue in use, but since the 1960s a number of craftsmen have revivedthe art of wooden flute making. Some flutes are even made of PVC; these areespecially popular with new learners and as travelling instruments, being bothless expensive than wooden instruments and far more resistant to changes inhumidity.</p><p>The tin whistle or metal whistle, which with its nearly identical fingering might be called a cousin of thesimple-system flute, is also popular. It was mass-produced in 19th century Manchester England, as an inexpensiveinstrument. Clarke whistles almost identical to the first ones made by that company are still available, although theoriginal version, pitched in C, has mostly been replaced for traditional music by that pitched in D, the "basic key" oftraditional music. The other common design consists of a barrel made of seamless tubing fitted into a plastic orwooden mouthpiece.</p><p>Skilled craftsmen make fine custom whistles from a range of materials including not only aluminium, brass, andsteel tubing but synthetic materials and tropical hardwoods; despite this, more than a few longtime professionalsstick with ordinary factory made whistles.Irish schoolchildren are generally taught the rudiments of playing on the tin whistle, just as school children in manyother countries are taught the soprano recorder. At one time the whistle was thought of by many traditional</p></li><li><p>Folk music of Ireland 5</p><p>A(keyless)Irish flute</p><p>musicians as merely a sort of "beginner's flute," but that attitude has disappeared in the face oftalented whistlers such as Mary Bergin, whose classic early seventies recording Feadga Stin (withbouzouki accompaniment by Alec Finn) is often credited with revolutionising the whistle's place inthe tradition.</p><p>The low whistle, a derivative of the common tin whistle, is also popular, although some musiciansfind it less agile for session playing than the flute or the ordinary D whistle.</p><p>Notable present-day flute-players (sometimes called 'flautists' or 'fluters') includ...</p></li></ul>