Irish Music “Everybody Else Was Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” - The Cranberries
Irish Music History The countries political change had a great impact on Irish music. Because the country was in trouble during the 16th Century, the re was no evidence of musical activity. Traditional music is what the community listens to and performs. It is the style of the community. The music of the National Heritage is Irish Folk music. The most used instrument that the Irish use is the Harp. Many other instruments like the accordion, banjo, concertina, fiddle and flutes were incorporated in Irish music in the 1930’s. Drums and pianos were incorporated later into the music. The Crossroads was a popular place in Ireland for the people to go and sing and dance. In the 1930’s, dancing was forbidden in the rural areas. Dance halls had spread around the country but the 1935 Public Dance Hall Act was a means to control the Dance Halls.
WORK SONGS Work Songs were apart of the Irish culture. Not many of the have survived however. The scholars believe that their practice declined before people realized the importance and the value of them. When the Great Hunger began in 1945, it was consider a “great silencer to the land.” It made everyone turn to darkness and no one was in to singing anymore. They lost the spark that they once had. “The rhythmical function of the work-song is self evident, whether for solitary tasks or for synchronized group work”(Visit Ireland). When the workers would go to work, they would come upon certain jobs that would be hard to get through and work songs helped them. It helped the workers get into a happy spirit of working and settle into a rhythmic pattern of working.
Work Songs Cont… “The function of the work-song was in lightening the labor into an amusement by the singing of cheerful songs. Humor is characteristic of many of thee songs. The use of nonsense syllables was one of the features of these songs, especially in the refrain. The syllables were often for the sake of the rhythm.”(Visit Ireland). These works songs helped the workers in an immense way. That’s why they were very important to them.
Traditional Music Traditional Music is what the Irish people listen to and play. Traditional music came from more rural areas. It was mostly played at home or for gatherings. The music wasn’t heard with more than one musician on stage. Along with the harpers who performed their music for the aristocracy, on parallel, were the ordinary people playing music for themselves. The instruments they used were primitive fiddles, pipes, flutes, and whistles. The repressive laws at that time were designed to stamp out the Gaelic order lifestyle. As a result, the harpists' music declined but was quickly replaced by the uilleann pipes for higher ranks of society. Many of the harpers and pipers were blind; music was an arena where the blind musicians could prosper as opposed to any other field of work. The Irish Traditional Music that is played today evolved from the peasantry of the 17th century, the ordinary people who passed the tradition aurally(Visit Ireland)
Irish folk Music “Irish Folk Music is considered to be the music and song of the national heritage” (Visit Ireland). The music contains older music and melodies. Irish Folk music also has the Anglo-Irish songs and ballads of the countryside, and the rich vein of dance music. The music uses its “melodic line” to draw people in and make them listen to the music. It was very important at banquets and ceremonies.
Pre Christian times brought about poets and musicians. They were really respected in this age. These poets and musicians would bring back influences from their travels. They created an oral history by going into war with their chieftains. Ancient Music With the combining of poetry and music, it had and effect on Celtic tradition. Irish Monks would travel through Europe in the sixth century,
Ancient Music Continued… The Monks would establish learning centers that would place emphasis on the Irish music. The musicians were better than any other nation. They would play their harps. “Irish musicians were taken to Wales by King Griffith ap Conan and the Danes took their harp music from Ireland. In early times Ireland was the school of music for Scotland. The Irish harp appears to have been introduced in Italy and was played by musicians during the Crusades. The Irish harp was revered as much as the musician. The Monks, who promoted the cultivation of music, were held in high esteem” (Visit Ireland)
Ancient Music Continued… The Irish music was important in their everyday life. The Middle Ages had secular music that turned into religious music. This secular music that was turned into religious music was written in Latin. The music of this time was made for the churches. “When the Norman's invaded Ireland in the 1100's, a split developed between the native traditions and the outside influences. Although a musical culture had begun to develop in centers of English and Anglo-Norman influence, there seems to be little creative activity in the field of art music. The Norman's were a fierce and ambitious people who plundered and pillaged Ireland. They eventually became entrenched in Ireland, marrying the native inhabitants, building stone castles, and churches. They in essence, became assimilated, learned the language and became Irish” (Visit Ireland) When Elizabeth I took the throne after King Henry, his son Edward, then Mary, shesaw the Irish as barbaric and heretics. She knew how important the music was to the Irish and how much composing meant to them. She decide to make traditional music illegal and demanded that her soldiers to 'Hang the Harper's and burn their instruments'. Ireland had to go through so much that people doubt that much music was being played , documented , or composed.
Harp “The earliest evidence of a harp was in Ancient Egypt circa 2500 BC. They were shaped liked bows or angular and had very few strings (because they lacked a column they could not support much string tension)” (Harp). A harp has single strings in which the “resonator, or belly, is perpendicular, or nearly so, to the plane of the strings. Each string produces one note, the gradation of string length from short to long corresponding to that from high to low pitch. The resonator is usually of wood or skin. In arched, or bow-shaped, harps the neck extends from and forms a curve in the body” (Britannica)“Harps in continental Europe differed from Irish harps in that the forepillar was thinner and less curved, the neck was more slender and it curved upward to meet the end of the column”( Harp).
Accordian An Accordion is a free reed instrument that has a treble case with some piano keys on the outside of the box or buttons and a bass case that also has buttons, that are attached to opposite sides of hand operated bellows. The accordion was patented in Berlin in 1822 by C. Friedrich L. Buschmann. Cyril Demian came up with name when he patented his accordion in 1829 in Vienna. “Some accordions, including the earliest ones, are “single-action,” in which the paired reeds sound adjacent notes of the diatonic (seven-note) scale, so that a button will give, for instance, G on the press and A on the draw. With a single-action accordion, 10 buttons suffice for a range of more than two octaves. For the left hand there are typically two keys, or basses, one providing a bass note, the other a major chord. The single action was early developed, chiefly in Austria and Switzerland, by adding a second row of treble buttons giving the F scale (the first-row scale being C). Various models add rows of buttons for the playing of semitones and additional bass notes and chords” (Britannica).
Banjo The Banjo was from Africa originally. It became popular by the slaves in the United States in the 19th century. The banjo has a body like a tambourine with a hoop and a screw to secure the vellum belly to the frame. The strings go over what resembles a violin lie structure and hook to what is called a tailpiece. The frets were added to the necks in the 1890’s. The tuning pegs were also added. “The earliest banjos had four gut strings; later, from five to nine metal strings were used. The standard banjo has five metal strings. Four are tuned from the head, usually to C′–G′–B′–D″ upward from (notated) middle C. Preceding the C string is the chanterelle (drone, or thumb), a shorter string fastened to a screw midway in the banjo neck. It is tuned to the (notated) second G above middle C. The actual pitch is an octave lower than notated. Variants of the standard banjo abound. Banjos played with a plectrum, or pick, rather than fingers lack the chanterelle. On a zither banjo the vellum is suspended in a resonator that throws the sound forward; the chanterelle, tuned from the head, passes under the fingerboard to emerge at the fifth fret. The banjo is widely played in U.S. folk music and has also been used in jazz ensembles” (Britannica)
Concertina “Concertina is a small, hexagonal accordion, which comes in both double-action chromatic ('English') and single-action diatonic ('Anglo' or 'German') forms. The most common form for traditional music is an Anglo, tuned to C and G, which has the keyboard is spread out on both ends of the bellows (usually two rows of five keys on either end) with no bass. The stronghold of concertina playing has been in Co. Clare, where it is particularly common among women players” (Celtic Music)
Fiddle The fiddle came out in the 10th century. The fiddle resembled the violin. The fiddle has a long bow with strings on it that you use to play it with. The fiddle looks like oval with some cut pieces. It has three to five strings that are tuned to the fifth, At the top, it has tuning pegs. “Fiddle” also refers generically to any bowed, stringed instrument with a neck (bowed lute), especially the violin. If the neck appears to skewer the body, the instrument is called a spike fiddle” (Britannica)
Flute The Flute is in the wind instrument group. When air goes into the flute, a vibration sounds off inside the enclosed flute. Flutes are held to the side when they are played. Flutes are typically tubular but can be globular at times. In 2008, a Western end-blown flute was discovered at Hohle’sFels. The flute was made of bone from a griffin vulture. The flute had five finger holes and measured 8.5 inches long. They think that it is over 35, 000 years old.
Drums A drum is an instrument that makes sound when you hit the top of a membrane bound object with and other object, usually a round drum stick. The drums have a hallow bottom called the body. It has tuning pegs that you can turn to tighten or loosen the membrane on top of the body to get different tones when you strike the head. The vibration on top of the membrane actually produces the sound instead of the body. Drums have been around since humans were here. The technical name for the drums is membranophone. “The oldest drums known were from 6000 BC “ ( Drummers Beat). The drums have been used for many thing. They have been used not only for rhythm but for a means of communication.
Piano A piano is a instrument that has a keyboard of keys that every time you strike one of these keys, a string inside the piano vibrates sending off sound. The modern piano has 88 keys and seven full octaves. The vibration is sent over a soundboard which the strings are stretched acrossed. “The hammers that strike the strings are affixed to a mechanism resting on the far ends of the keys; hammer and mechanism compose the “action.” The function of the mechanism is to accelerate the motion of the hammer, catch it as it rebounds from the strings, and hold it in position for the next attack. Modern hammers are covered with felt; earlier, leather was used. The modern piano has a cast-iron frame capable of withstanding the tremendous tension of the strings; early pianos had wood frames and thus could only be lightly strung. Modern pianos are therefore much louder than were those of the 18th century, an increase in loudness necessitated in part by the size of 19th-century concert halls. Of the three pedals found on most pianos, the damper pedal on the right lifts all the felt dampers above the strings, allowing them all to vibrate freely; the left pedal shifts the keyboard and action sideways to enable the hammer to strike only one of the two or three unison strings of each tenor and treble key (the bass notes are only single-strung); and the middle pedal (generally available on grand pianos but also found on some upright pianos) usually holds up the dampers only of those keys depressed when the pedal is depressed” (Britannica).
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