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An Introduction to Celtic Music

With St. Patrick's Day fast approaching, playlists will soon be filling up with "diddly-i-o's," "mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da's," and "no-nay-never no more's." And while it's easy for even the most musically illiterate person to hear a Dubliners', Clancy Brothers', Chieftains', or Pogues' song and say definitively, "THAT's Celtic music!" - getting that person to explain WHY it's Celtic is a totally different story.

About a year ago, I sought to explain those distinctive aspects of Celtic music that make it so...errrr, "Celtic-sounding." In addition to using several online resources, I found the textbook Focus: Irish Traditional Music by Sean Williams (available in the Kindle Store) incredibly helpful. My research complete, I presented my findings to my office in one of our weekly "Lunch & Learn" presentations.

Here are the slides from that presentation, which was originally titled "An Interactive Introduction to Celtic Music." The interactive parts included having my coworkers identify different instruments and having them write a Celtic song using a Mad Lib-style approach. I also gave a live demonstration of some of the instruments that are common to Celtic music (namely, guitar, Irish bouzouki, mandolin, and bodhrán).

Sláinte! (Cheers!)

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An Introduction to Celtic Music

  1. 1. An Introduction to:Celtic(Pronounced “Keltic”)Music Presented by: Erik Alan Devaney
  2. 2. Why do the Boston Celtics pronounce it “Seltics?” “that was how Walter Brownwanted it pronounced when he founded the team in 1946.”
  3. 3. What is Celtic music?• Record companies invented the term• It refers to traditional music from a bunch of different places• Common link: all places that retained Celtic culture/language
  4. 4. Where does Celtic music come from? • Ireland • Scotland • Isle of Man • Wales • Cornwall • Brittany • Galicia • Asturias • Cantabria
  5. 5. Common Characteristics of Celtic Music• Single, distinct melody lines• Time signatures: 4/4, 3/4, 6/8 (jig), 9/8 (slip jig)• The 3rd is often left out• Instrumentation
  6. 6. Common Celtic Music Instruments Guitar Fiddle Tin whistle BodhránIrish bouzouki Mandolin Accordion Flute Harp Banjo Hammered Bagpipes & dulcimer uilleann pipes
  7. 7. Dude. Why do you like this crappy music? And why don’t you haveThat’s mypal Jack, boat shoes?music“aficionado”
  8. 8. Welcome to the Wu• Located in the most Irish county in the U.S (350,000 Irish Americans live in Middlesex Co.)• 36% of Woburn residents have Irish ancestry• Fun stat: In 1865, 181 children were born in Woburn 110 had fathers who were born in Ireland
  9. 9. Progression of a Pub Musician Play for your family Play for your friends
  10. 10. Play at a bunch of open mics
  11. 11. Get a job as a singing busboy
  12. 12. Convince the pub to give you some gigs
  13. 13. Put the band together • MikeyMikey Emlyn Alison Nikita me Noelle Devaney’ Goat s
  14. 14. The End Thanks for checking out my presentation on Celtic music! Keep in touch:• Twitter: @BardOfBoston• Website:• Old website (lots of Celtic music stuff):