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When the translation is provided submissions to the blog will be published in both English and Irish. Please send submissions to the webmaster address shown at the very top of the blog. Please visit us often. This blog is the companion of the Ottawa Comhaltas website:

Beidh poist a fhoilsiú i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge nuair is féidir. Tabhair cuairt orainn go minic. Is é seo an blag an compánach an láithreán gréasáin Comhaltas Ottawa:

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Traditional Irish Music - Singing

Ellen MacIsaac at Canada's 2013 Oireachtas

In traditional Irish music there are “music” that is mainly for singing and other that is exclusively for dancing. “Music” for singing, tends to be mostly the unaccompanied vocals of sean nós of the “old style.” Also there is another unaccompanied vocal singing, the lilting or “mouth music;” a similar celtic tradition in Scotland is puirt a beul (or "diddling"). Lilting often accompanies dancing, and features such as rhythm and tone dominate in lilting. The lyrics are often meaningless or nonsensical.

Sean nós: there are three main styles of Sean nós, corresponding to the three areas where Irish is still spoken as a community language, the Gaeltachtai of Munster, Connacht and Ulster. Even though Sean-nós is practiced outside these areas, only those three distinct styles can be recognised. Singers from the Gaeltacht and indeed from outside Ireland may blend them, depending on where they learned. For those familiar with the styles, will notice the differences amongst them.

The Donegal Sean nós has been heavily influenced by Scots Gaelic song, where the melody is much less ornamented (uses of grace notes, and may also contain a steady pulse throughout the song). In all styles, the singers link a text to their interpretation of the melody. All styles will have slow (non-rhythmic songs) and songs that are sung to melodies with a very strong rhythm mostly drawn from the dance music, e.g. Jigs, slip-jigs, reels etc.

As Seamas Mac Mathuna has written, "Sean nós singing is at once the most loved and the most reviled, the least often heard and the least understood part of that body of music which is generally referred to as Irish Traditional Music.”

Here you can hear Scread Ceann Sualtaim, Celtic song of The Headless Horseman.

Next time we will refer to music for dancing.

We hope you enjoy it! 

Next time we will refer to music for dance.

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Until next time / Go dtí an chéad uair eile!