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Top o’ the Mornin’ To Ya!: A Brief History of Irish Music
By Melissa Raap
2/16/2011 4:18:00 PM

Irish music has always been an important part of both rural and urban life for the Irish people. Much of the music sounds the same today as it would have two hundred years ago. Irish music is a diverse genre of folk music which has many regional variations. Most traditional Irish music was written to be used for dancing, but there is a significant tradition of ballads as well.  Some of the traditional instruments used in Irish music include: fiddle, bodhran, wooden flute, tin whistle, and the Irish harp.  The accordion, guitar, banjo, and bouzouki (a large mandolin) are also quite common. These instruments have all become popular in Irish music within the last 100 years. 

The time signatures and styles of tunes commonly found in Irish music are: single jig (12/8 time), double jig (6/8 time), reel (4/4 time), hornpipe (swung 4/4 time), slip jig (9/8 time), and occasionally versions of polkas (2/4 time), and mazurkas or waltzes (3/4 time). All of these tune styles have corresponding traditional dances.

It is a common misconception that Irish music was hugely influential on American bluegrass music. These genres came from Appalachia, from which there was never a substantial amount of Irish immigration (most immigrants there were Ulster Scots: Scottish and English). Irish music did, however, have a significant influence on the 1960s folk revival. That influence went both ways - many American artists influenced Irish artists during this time period as well.  In the late 20th century, it was commonplace for young musicians to merge their traditional folk genres with rock and punk.  Irish musicians were at the forefront of these folk-rock pioneering groups. Irish punk groups like The Pogues and Flogging Molly have opened a window into Irish music for a new generation of fans.


Putumayo Kids

Putomayo Kids

Celtic music has long been known for both its danceable jigs and reels and its tranquil, beautiful melodies. For its latest release, Putumayo Kids focuses on the softer side of Celtic music, harvested from the rich musical traditions of Ireland, Scotland, eastern Canada and beyond. Celtic Dreamland features songs that are perfect for the slumbering child, meditating mom and dad or the weary worker desperate for a little quiet relaxation. The album joins the successful Dreamland series alongside Dreamland: World Lullabies and Soothing Sounds and Asian Dreamland. Click here for more information and sound samples!


Here at West Music, we recognize the importance of Irish and Celtic musical influence.  In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, we have put together an awesome selection of Irish and Celtic music for you to experience and enjoy. We have music for all kinds of instruments: piano, guitar, band and orchestral instruments, tin whistles, and even for accordion! Come on in to your local store to see for yourself!  Here’s just a few of the great titles you’ll get to pick from:

Irish Whistle Book Irish Favorites Irish Songs for Guitar Irish Favorites for Accordion
Irish Pub Songs Favorite Celtic Songs Celtic Woman Celtic Dreamland

Historical and musical information was gathered from http://worldmusic.about.com/. 

Tags: Irish Music, Irish Folk Music, World Music, World Folk Music, Native Music, Bluegrass Music, Putomayo Kids, Celtic, Celtic Folk Music, Celtic Music
Categories: Guitars & Folk
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