101 Irish Music Facts: History, Tradition, Instruments And More | Kidadl


101 Irish Music Facts: History, Tradition, Instruments And More

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Do you know much about Irish music?

Irish music is also known as Irish trad or Irish folk music. Irish traditional music has gained popularity throughout the world in recent times but originates from Ireland.

Irish music is fast and isometric. Slow instruments are not that common. There is not much difference between traditional and modern Irish music. Irish dancing is done to traditional music only. Irish country music is interpreted from English, Scottish, and Celtic fusion music.

Irish music originated after Celts arrived in Ireland about 2000 years ago. Bends make Irish music unique. Most of the tunes in Irish music are in the form of AABA, ABBA, and AABB. It is memorized by listening and not learning. Irish music is not harmonic but is melodic. Irish tunes are mostly Ionian, Aeolian, Dorian, and Mixolydian. They have a range of two octaves along with one or two sharps. Dord is the oldest musical instrument in the world of Irish music. It was developed during the Bronze Age.

Other traditional Irish music instruments are the fiddle, tin whistle, flute, harp, uilleann pipes, and others. Some of the most famous Irish music artists and traditional musicians are Van Morrison, Enya, The Dublin, Sinead O’Connor, Thin Lizzy, Clannad, The Cranberries, and others. Some examples of Irish instrumental music pieces are 'If I Only Could', 'So Long Ireland', 'Castle Ruins', 'Back to Ireland', 'Summer Nights', and others. Music available in the Irish language, Gaelic, is 'Nil ‘na La', 'Nil Se Ina La', 'Beidh Aonach Amarach', and various others. Keep reading to know more facts about Irish traditional music and modern music. Afterward, also check Indonesian music facts and Italian music facts.

Fun Facts About Irish Music

Irish music is one of the most popular music forms in the world. Even today, a large number of fans enjoy different variations of Irish music. Some Irish music facts are given down below.

  • The harp is an integral part of Irish music. Irish harps are engraved on euro coins. Gaelic music has long been a part of ceilidh, which is a traditional Irish social gathering.
  • The bagpipes are known as uilleann pipes. They are quite different from other bagpipes. The musician can talk as well as play the instrument at the same time.
  • The Irish frame drum is known as a bodhran. It rose to popularity during the 60s. There are various pubs in Ireland where people gather together and learn different musical tones from each other.
  • The tin whistle is taught as a basic musical instrument in Irish schools. The oldest and most popular Irish musical instrument is the Celtic harp.
  • The fiddle became a popular Irish music instrument in the 17th century. The fiddle is the predecessor of the modern violin.
  • The fiddle is much more popular in the rural areas of Ireland because it is cheap, easy to use, and has low maintenance.
  • Traditional Irish music is the most popular dance music in Ireland.
  • The fiddle is made from approximately 70 wood components and horsehair.
  • Various styles of fiddle music include Donegal, Sligo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork, and others. Some of the most popular Irish bands are Westlife, U2, The Cranberries, Enya, Van Morrison, and various others.
  • The four-string tenor banjo is accepted as a part of Irish music culture after it was brought by immigrants from Africa.
  • The tin whistle is manufactured by the Clarke Company located in Manchester, England.
  • The Irish harp has been a part of the culture since the 10th century.

Facts About Traditional Irish Music

Are you also a fan of traditional Irish music? Well, you are not alone here as at one point in time, traditional Irish music was the most popular music form in Ireland. Below are some of the traditional Irish music facts:

  • Traditional singing and Irish music are also called Irish trad and Irish folk music.
  • W.H. Grattan Flood wrote a book called 'A History of Irish Music' in 1905.
  • Some of the notable collectors of Irish traditional music are Colm O Lochlainn, George Petrie, James Goodman, Edward Bunting, Francis O’Neill, and others.
  • Irish folk music usually included solo performances but sometimes included small bands. Traditional Irish music included various instruments like the violin/fiddle, flute, whistle, harp, accordion, banjo, mandolin, guitar, harmonica, and various others.
  • Irish traditional music is played in homes, Irish pubs, reception halls, music festivals, and concert halls.
  • Traditional Irish music came to the country approximately 2000 years ago with Celts. In ancient times, the harp was the most popular musical instrument.
  • The Irish Traditional Music Archive, situated in Dublin, has the world’s largest collection of traditional and folk music.
  • Traditional Irish music and folk songs include ballads, lament, drinking songs, and others.
  • Irish dancing is usually done with traditional music.
Traditional Irish music at one point in time was the most popular music form in Ireland.

Facts About Irish Music Instruments

Below are some fascinating and fun Irish music instruments facts.

  • The most popular Irish musical instrument is the harp. The harp has been a part of Irish music for more than 1000 years. The Celtic harp was made for the upper classes in Irish society.
  • The modern harp sounds different from the ancient harp because the wire strings were replaced by gut strings.
  • The uilleann is also known as bagpipes. It is considered to be the most difficult Irish musical instrument.
  • 'Uilleann pipes' means 'pipe of the elbow'. They were developed during the fifth century.
  • The bagpipes were used in early times to march troops in the war. The uilleann is smaller than bagpipes, plays in two octaves, and is not inflated.
  • The fiddle has been a part of Irish music since the 17th century. The Irish flute is carved out of wood and has six finger holes. The modern flute is made from steel but the Irish artists prefer the wooden one.
  • The penny whistle is an integral part of Irish music. It is very common as it is easy to make. In earlier days it was made from bones but now they are made using tin.
  • The frame drum or bodhran drum is also an important part of Irish music. It was traditionally made from wood and goatskin.
  • The sound of a drum depends greatly on its size and the tightness of the epidermis on it. Sheep bones are used by Irish musicians to produce sound by snapping them together.
  • The concertina was a popular musical instrument in Irish culture until 1844. It is considered a predecessor of harmonica and accordion.

Facts About Modern Irish Music

Some facts about modern Irish music are mentioned below:

  • Modern Irish music is a mixture of traditional music, modern rock, pop, country music, and bluegrass.
  • In the modern world, harp musicians gained much more respect and were popularized.
  • Turlough Carolan is one of the best-known harpists in history. He used some traditional elements of contemporary baroque music.
  • Some examples of modern Irish music include 'Drilling The Outside Track', 'Sligo ReelFlook', 'Dark Reels The Outside Track', 'The Gap of Dreams', 'The Green Gowned Lass Dervish', and many others.
  • Modern Irish music has been interpreted from ancient poetry and Irish songs. 'Be Thou My Vision' was published by Mary Elizabeth Byrne in 1905. It is an interpretation of a hymn known as 'Rop tu mo baile' from the 16th century. Some of the translations include poems from poets like Seamus Heaney, Ciaran Carson, Frank O’Connor, and various others.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 101 Irish music facts: History, tradition, instruments and more then why not take a look at Jamaican music facts, or gospel music facts?

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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