celtic or not celtic

celtic or not celtic

As soon as someone use the word celtic on this site to describe music, he/she always get at least one remark that "you are probably meaning Irish, not celtic" and "if you really mean celtic, you must include Breton, Wales and even Turkey (since there once was celtic speaking people in Turkey)".
OK, I get the point. "Celtic" is of course - historically speaking - an inadequate term.
BUT if you’re not only meaning the Irish tradition?
I mainly play Irish songs and tunes, but I also play a lot of Scottisch songs/tunes and would certainly like to learn a few from Cornwall.
What am I suppose to call it? Noone can deny that the Irish and Scottish traditions are linked together by common heritage and influences.
What do you say???

lars from Sweden (not a celtic country)

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Re: celtic or not celtic

Hi Lars, I have just opened a new discussion and only after I posted it did I read your letter on practically the same sublect. I am amazed at this happening. If you read my discussion you will see I am a bit puzzled by this need to pidgoenhole the material. Can you call newly written tunes traditional. I don’t know. Hope you get some joy on this.
All the best. Dexy

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Thing is, once you start learning the stuff, there are a lot of differences between Irish and Scottish. I know a little bit of Irish music, but the only thing i know about Scottish is that you aren’t supposed to wear anything under the skirt! πŸ™‚
(and i’m not making this up)

Re: celtic or not celtic

There’s nothing wrong with using the term "celtic" to describe anything referring to the conglomerate of celtic whatever, in my book. But you shouldn’t think of "celtic" as being an inadequate term — it’s simply too *large* or inexact a term for the usage you’re talking about there, Lars. It’s a little like saying that all Scandinavian countries do things a certain way, when in real life, it’s only Sweden that does the thing that way.

Dexy, it has very little to do with pigeonholing, but much to do with, as Glauber points out, the fact that most celtic music forms have very different ways of performing sometimes the same tune, and if you make assumptions that a Scottish player playing Tenpenny Bit is going to play it the same way an Irish player does, you’re headed for at least a mistake, if not active trouble. Add into that that in the Irish tradition a player is most admired when s/he comes up with inventive variations on a tune (I’ve no idea if Scottish players are), and you could quickly get very confused if you’re trying to apply Irish rules to, say, Galician music, which is certainly Celtic and is certainly a music form I know little to nothing about.

Lars, of course you can say that you’re a Celtic player. I myself would think that you mean one of two things by that description if I saw it: one, that you play music from across the Celtic group of musical genres, or two, that you play in a style that uses different things from each of those groups of musical genres, or three, that you actually only play one but are not acquainted with the idea that "Celtic" contains more than one genre. πŸ™‚

At the end of the day, you still have to have had fun, you know? But when discussing details, it’s best to be exact, in my book. I’d hate for you to be a Scottish player and here’s me spouting my mouth off about do it *this* way or *that* way, and me only knowing something about Irish.

By the way, there’s many an Irish person who really really HATES the word "celtic" when it refers to something specifically Irish. And many an Irish person who could care less. Heh.

Hope that helps!

Zina

Re: celtic or not celtic

Thanks for your replies and comments!
ZIna. There are sometimes good use for a term like scandinavian trad music. Actually its often more adequate than talking about swedish or norwegian etc.
What I really am looking for is a more general term, either for describing the more general tradition which connects trad music in Ireland, Scotland, etc OR to describe musicians like me who combines elements from the different traditions AND/OR work in a more eclectic and temporary style.
Because I can guess I’m one of many Session-members who don’t play music completely whithin one specific tradition.
The only word I’ve found so far is "celtic". And I can admit that it’s not the best word and I hate the New Age swisch swosch celtic stuff as much as anybody, but what word are we supposed to use when we play "kind of" Irish music and not exactly Irish music from exactly the county of….?
Any ideas?

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Re: celtic or not celtic

Nothing wrong with using "celtic" for what you do, Lars.

My friend John Carr calls an Irish player who plays a style that’s a conglomerate of different Irish counties "Pan-Irish" style playing. πŸ™‚ That works too.

zls

Re: celtic or not celtic

I think the main reason the term ‘celtic’ sets people’s teeth on edge is simply that in recent years it has become synonymous with the ‘new age swisch swosch’ to which Lars refers. It reminds me of the concept of political correctness. I’m prepared to accept that no two people use the same word to mean exactly the same thing.

Re: celtic or not celtic

I don’t like the term Celtic music, but there is precedent:
http://www.celticcafe.com/ πŸ™‚
http://ceolas.org/ceolas.html
and others. So i guess it’s ok to use it.

I saw once a book on Celtic music that was almost entirely about U2 (the rock band).

Re: celtic or not celtic

Hi everyone, I am new to this. I have been reading all the discussions with interest the past few weeks and they go everywhere and then back again! Anyway before I lose my nerve;

Is it possible that the people who embrace the culture are what makes celtic, Celtic? Check out the music on www.celtic.com, where they are featuring a Canadian "celtic" group Fiddlers 3 with some interesting history on celtic music in Canada in their write-up. Did anyone else know of the celtic connection in Canada?

Re: celtic or not celtic

Welcome, Stemilo! Hope you’ll chime in often from here on out!

"Is it possible that the people who embrace the culture are what makes celtic, Celtic?"

Well, it’s an interesting idea, although I think that technically what makes a culture Celtic is where the Celts originally were, and by originally, I’m speaking extremely broadly, and where their descendants end up. Canada was settled by many Celtic immigrants (along with many French immigrants, some of whom were celtic! and many other influences, making Canada’s brand of Celtic music, like the USA’s, largely a mongrel tradition). The reason Cape Breton is so famous as a "purer" stronghold of Celtic music is because they were so isolated for so long. Buddy MacMasters told me that he feels that so many outside influences are now entering Cape Breton that he fears the music will die out in it’s pure, old form.

I for one don’t consider myself "Celtic" although I’ve pretty much centered myself around a certain Celtic country’s (Ireland) cultural art forms, at least the music and dance part of it, anyway. But as a Chinese American, I can’t consider myself Celtic, really — embrace it as I may.

Perhaps this might help:

Celtic: A subfamily of the Indo-European language family comprising the Brittonic and the Goidelic branches. __ adj. Of or relating to the Celtic people and languages.

Celt: 1) One of an Indo-European people originally of central Europe and spreading to western Europe and the British Isles and southeast to Galatia during pre-Roman times, esp. a Briton or Gaul. 2) A speaker of a modern Celtic language or a descendant of such a speaker.

Zina

Re: celtic or not celtic

Zina, i think we should have a third category for you!

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What, like, mouthy, rabbity, squinty-eyed player of sorts? Actually, I’ve been working on the computer for the last six hours, and I’m more like poached-egg eyed at the moment…. *snicker*

I’m going to bed!

zls

Re: celtic or not celtic

Zina
Why would you hate Lars to be a Scottish player?
Alan

Re: celtic or not celtic

glauber
and your comments about The Scots weren’t helpful either -don’t you know about Jeremy’s rule about civility?
Alan

Re: celtic or not celtic

Alan, if you read my sentence again in the context of the posts, you’ll discover that what I was saying was that, since I know nothing about Scottish playing, I would hate for Lars to ask a question about "Celtic" music, and there would be me giving him an answer about IRISH playing, when, in this mythical situation we’re talking about here, he was actually asking about Scottish music.

My point was that "Celtic" is a word that covers a lot of area, and in my book does not begin to approach an exact definition enough to use in a forum such as this one. It has nothing to do with the relative okayness of being a Scottish player, which, by the way, is a music form the players therein I admire very much.

And I think that if you read Glauber’s first post from the standpoint of a sense of humor, you’ll perhaps feel a little more cheerful about the world. My own personal Scot wears rubber ducky boxers under his, actually, Glauber. πŸ™‚

And a happy Christmas to you, too. *grin*

Zina

Re: celtic or not celtic

My point is this I don’t see why that if you know say"Miss McLeod’s" and want to play it Scottish style or Irish style( presuming you have the ability!) then fine.The great thing about celtic music is it’s diversity and the exchanges between the Countries especially Scotland and Ireland being so close.Donegals "Highlands"are a great example of this and here in Scotland some of us like to play different styles giving an opportunity to learn more about our Celtic cousins.
Glauber here in Scotland we call them kilts not skirts(you woudn’t call a Sari a sheet would you?)and there’s no hard and fast rule what is worn under them -I tell you -boy have I seen some sights!!
A Happy and peaceful Christmas to all at the Session.
Alan

Re: celtic or not celtic

Okay, I’ll weigh in on this one.

While I don’t mind the term "Celtic," I avoid it. Partly because it does have a New Age wind-chimes-and-whale-song connotation, and partly because it has largely been co-opted as a marketing term for the music industry. Generally speaking, if the record execs are stumped while listening to a new release, but they can pick out a low whistle or bagpipes, they will toss it in the Celtic bin.

As a result, what was once a very rich historic term has become watered down into marketing gibberish to many who hear it and especially to players. Sadly, most of the historic definitions of the term are essentially useless in the context in which the term is applied to the music we play.

If I’m talking to someone about what I play, what I call it and how far I go in explaining it depends on their interest level. Usually, I start by calling it "traditional folk music" as a broad term with very little baggage. If there’s more interest, I’ll explain further that it’s traditional Irish music. If I also played Scottish and/or Cornish music, I’d probably toss in those terms as well. If there’s more interest, I’ll go further and say jigs, reels, and hornpipes.

That works for me. If you’re after a single term that accurately encompasses all that we do, then you might be out of luck. That’s just my opinion though.

John Harvey
Rhodeirish.net

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Alanmmcgregor, sorry if my comment offended you. It was made in jest, in an attempt to be disrespectful but not offensive. Your next beer’s on me.

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Glauber -next time I’m in your part of the world i’ll take you up on that!(I ‘ll bring a bottle of malt to share) -have a great New Year!!
Alan

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Hi yous all!
I agree in many respects with John. The problem many people have now with the term "Celtic" i just the connotations it has, mainly in the mass media. Particularly I don’t like to call meself a Celtic musician, though I speak Irish, because of obvious reasons. Of course that there’s still nowadays a kind of celtic culture, but just in the same way as a germanic one, for if yous go to the west of Ireland or the Western Isles of Scotland you can find that very easily,not only in the language employed (a Celtic language by the way) but also in the every day life.
Cathal.

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I think what pissed me off the most was someone thought being Celtic meant not being Irish. *shrugs*

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Re: celtic or not celtic

You do know the ‘discussion’ is 12 years old?

By your logic, are you saying that being celtic is being Irish?

I wouldn’t get too ‘pissed off’ - there are more important things going on….