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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).