Traditional Irish music at one time was one of the most popular music in the country of Ireland. The new styles of music became popular only in the twentieth century. The Irish music and the songs were not written down usually. Rather, the adults taught the children to play music by the ear. Children thus learned songs by heart. Learning music this way is popular as ‘oral tradition’.
Some earliest Irish music is for harp. This music is from sixteenth century. But plenty of Irish music was created in last 300 years. Edward Bunting was the first one to write harp music at Belfast Harper’s Meeting in the year 1972.
There is a number of traditional Irish music that comes from the European music. For instance, the dance tune of reel came from the country of Scotland. The other European music even became a part of traditional Irish music style like waltzes and polkas. Today, Irish music is quite popular all over the world.
Singing is a big part of traditional Irish music. Seannos is the best known singing in the country of Ireland. It means old style. This is the time when the person sings on her/his own without using any kind of music. The Irish songs tell a lot of stories. There are typically songs about hardship, love, death, war and several others. There are even a number of funny songs. The traditional Irish songs may be in English or Irish. Some of the songs are even in Shelta or Cant. This is language of Irish travelers.
There are only a few instruments in traditional Irish music. Some have a long history in the country like the harp. The fiddle and pipes soon became quite famous as well. Most Irish dance music was created from these kinds of instruments. The harp wasn’t used generally for dance music. The other essential instruments in the Irish music include the whistle, flute, concertina and accordion.
Today, guitar is played often in the sessions of Irish music. Seán Ó Riada started to play bodhran in 1960s in traditional Irish music. Before this, drums had not been used usually. Now bodhran became quite popular as an instrument.
Turlough O’Carolan was the best musician of Ireland during early days. He was born in seventeenth century and is called as the ‘last of the Irish bards’. This person spent his life mostly in travelling all over Ireland, playing harp and singing. Only one of his songs is in English. All his other songs are in the dialect of Ireland i.e. Irish. But he is actually popular for his harp music. Most of his music wasn’t written during his lifetime. It was actually collected during eighteenth century and nineteenth centuries. His music is even popular in today’s world.