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Irish Traditional Music

Irish traditional music comes in many forms and performed for many reasons. Being an Oral tradition, Irish music is passed down generation to generation through listening and learning by ear. It wasn't until later on, that tunes started to be transcribed and written down in classical music notations. 

A lot of folk songs carry stories on how our ancestors lived their lives with new compositions sharing our stories today and how we feel. Songs cover anything from talking about the sea, supernatural events, historical figures, rebellions, humour, love and migration. 


Music and emigration are joint in their history, with instruments and tunes being brought back to Ireland and incorporated into the repertoire from foreign countries. Sheet music allowed for other cultures to learn and access the music without an experienced musician to teach the songs. Today, Irish traditional music is played and enjoyed by so many people around the world sharing their lives and stories through music making. 

Forms and structures 
These are just but a few types but there are so many other types like march, polka and schottische etc. Each form has a different purpose and different characteristics that make it unique to Irish traditional music.  
Sean-nós Songs

Translate to mean 'in the old style' and seen as the most traditional style of singing. A Sean-Nóis an unaccompanied vocals with many ornamental additions. It probably the most recognisable form of singing when people think of Irish traditional music. 

Caoineadh Songs 

Is Gaelic for lament, which typically expresses deep sorrow and pain. It may discuss topics around leaving Ireland due to financial or political reasons and longing for returning or a death of a family member.


Without a strict metre or structure, an air is melodically more free and usually sung but many be played on a solo instrument. 


Jigs come in many forms (double, single, slip) and time signatures (6/8, 9/8), with instruments accompanying dancing. Listen below to a jig. 



With, origins in Scotland and being brought back by Irish immigrants to their homeland. A reel is another type of dance which is usually performed in a simpler 2/2 or 4/4 time signature.

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