Music has been an essential ingredient of weddings, religious ceremonies, parties and other events in Ireland since time immemorial. But before the dawn of the 20th century, the traditional facet of Irish music was more or less limited to free sessions organised at homes. Public concerts, recordings and pub sessions were not nearly as popular as they are today. In the centuries past, musicians often used to travel from one place to another within their native region and were the only source of entertainment available.
However, the late fifties as well as early sixties saw a change in the existing scenario. The folk inspired by American styles soon began to have music sessions in pubs – the sound of Paolo Soprani accordions, bodhran, fiddle, uilleann pipes and Irish bouzouki accompanied exuberant jigs and reels – all throughout Ireland. Besides the staple traditional Irish music, musicians also played other genres like jazz, bluegrass, country and classical. As a result, selection of songs ranged from basic Irish folk to modern rock and roll.
Music selection plays a very important role in deciding how much uniqueness and character would be added to the experience of an Irish pub. In the modern times, pubs in Ireland generally hire musical bands with the main motive of increasing customers and sales of food, beverage, promotional merchandise, etc. During rehearsal, the bands carefully select their play lists and mix them as per the style of business conducted at different hours. For instance, guests gathering during lunchtime like to hear something that does not act as a disturbance to their conversation by its manner of style and volume – gentle tunes played using Irish traditional accordions, fiddles, bouzouki. Similarly, people visiting during the cocktail hours prefer music that is just a little bit louder but not hampering conversation. At dinner time, the music is energetic and loud enough for allowing conversation to be heard above it. Late night visitors generally like to have it loud.
While hiring bands, Irish pub managers are expected to exercise a good number of precautions. At any given time, there are many different bands available for hire. But some of them may be good while others practically bad. However, it can be difficult to recognise the good ones until they have started to play. Therefore, it is very important for pub owners to do thorough research before choosing any band to play music in their business.