If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Following on from my last thread about asking how to get my US college peers more familiar with trad music (I really appreciate the replies and video links), I wanted to ask this question.
I would guess that since most of the music here originates in Ireland and the UK, and both countries are smaller than the US, that many non-players would be familiar with listening to trad music to a very small extent. So would it be likely, for example, to walk into a clothing store in Dublin and hear a Chieftains album plying while customers shop?
I’m just curious as to how familiar most non-trad players are in the countries where much of this music originated. I remember watching a YouTube clip of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh from Altan (sorry, my Voice-Over program is bad with some accents) talking about how she wished the Irish government would be more supportive of trad music, and I felt surprised at this, because I would have thought the government would be in full support of their own music, which is essentially their history.
I would love to know others’ thoughts on this.
Thanks,
TW

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Well, it’s all relative. People in Ireland look at the support that Breton music and culture gets from the state; Scotland looks at Ireland and wishes that traditional music got the same support as in Ireland. And I look at Scotland now and wish that what we have now was available when I was growing up.

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Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

"… would it be likely, for example, to walk into a clothing store in (town/city in the UK) and hear a (traditional artiste) album playing while customers shop?"

In England (where I come from) and Wales (where I live), I would say that is very unlikely.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

The first music I heard in Ireland while passing by a boutique on my way out of Dublin airport was "Song for Ireland" (with De Dannan). One day later, I heard some track by Patrick Street in the Tourism Centre. It made me happy.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

I recently returned from China, and a heck of a time finding a music shop that catered towards traditional instruments - erhu, guqin, etc. Guitars and pianos are what sell, and if there was music playing anywhere, it was Chinese pop music.

My perception is that traditional music in China is more scarce than traditional music in the USA. It’s there to be found, but you have to dig.

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Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

One of the funniest memories I have of my trip to Ireland was being in a music shop in Doolin, Co. Clare, and hearing a Scottish or Cape Breton strathspey being played. Wish I knew what artist/recording/tune, but don’t unfortunately.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

My experience in China a few years back was a little different. I went to a music store on that big main shopping street in Beijing and found a variety of Chinese instruments there, along with guitars, etc. I bought me a hulusi there. One evening in Loungkou, we came across a guy outside an apartment building playing er-hu; he told us that in a couple of nights, he and several friends would be commencing their weekly outdoor trad. Chinese session. Unfortunately, I was leaving before I could take that in.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

If you go into the tourist shops in Edinburgh you may get some pseudo-Scottish music, i.e. Scottish tunes disco-ised up to that 180 bpm disco speed: rarely anything any sane person would want to buy. Ok, maybe Red Hot Chilli Pipers…..if they float your boat….
I remember going to Canada in the 1990s, having just discovered Stan Rogers’ singing, via Scottish radio programmes: went into a number of record shops there - "never heard of him" - no folk/trad section anywhere.
Best ever experience was in Asturias (N Spain) where breakfast background music in our hotel was the wonderful music of Berroguetto: I got the name at reception, and eventually got one of their CDs when they came to play at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections some time later.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

I’m sure there are pockets of the music, just like other traditions. Just not the part of China I went to. None of the shop staff we asked in Hangzhou knew where else to find the instruments. Most of the shops had guzheng and dizi, but the staff knew very little about them. My friend has seen an erhu player on the street there a few times, so the music does exist. I just ran out of time to find it.

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Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Hi Trish,
I had never heard of the Red Hot Chili Pipers before and had to look them up! Are they any good in your opinion?

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

I live in the USA but I will say that when I was in Scotland in 2004 the Highland bagpipe tune "Highland Cathedral" was literally what we here call "elevator music"!

Does the equivalent, "lift music", exist as a phrase?

Highland Cathedral was playing in every shop we went into, and when we got on the lift at our hotel guess what- it was playing in the lift too! You could not escape from it.

Now, Highland Cathedral isn’t "trad music", but written recently by a couple of German pop musicians. But it does feature the Highland pipes, so it sort of qualifies.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Elevator music can be quite uplifting.

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Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

"Does the equivalent, ‘lift music’, exist as a phrase?"

I think you’d have to be a bloody-minded guardian of Britishness to say that. We use the term ‘elevator music’, probably because the term was coined in the US and has become an idiom - and it rolls off the tongue better, anyway. You wouldn’t catch me saying ‘elevator’ in any other context, though - it’s ‘13th Floor Lifts’ all the way ;-)

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

I live in North East England and rarely hear traditional music outside a session. The only other places I’ve heard it are busking and at historical events.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

No sorry, I’ve been trying all afternoon to ignore it but I can’t help myself. Apologies to all the none Irish and non British member who won’t understand the humour behind this, but in way of explanation this comes from the TV series ‘Father Ted where, according to wikepedia,…. "My Lovely Horse", is a "tuneless dirge with … the Norwegian tune first being whistled by a maintenance worker, then playing in a lift. This is not quite the same tune that then made Ireland come last in the Euro-vision song contest. Lift music!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLtgbAoy27Q

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Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

OOps… I accidentally linked the whole episode! Oh well.. Watch it anyway.

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Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Wanderer:

The red hot chilli pipers can be a little divisive - I think mainly because they seem to function primarily as a commercial venture - aiming to meet the clear demand for something like them. They are not a band of set musicians who formed and make a niche or particular sound. Instead they have a sprawling and continually changing cast of pipers.

In fact they function more like a pipe band - with a huge number of members (sometimes) but the name of the band is more important. For this reason - they can play 3 gigs in 3 continents simultaneously with a different group of chilli pipers at each concert.

As for the chilli piper sound - they go for a pop ‘aesthetic’ and are guaranteed to absolutely ace your festival/corporate gig/event opening/pop star background-playing/etc.

This is mainly because they are filled with blisteringly talented players - I know a couple and they are some of the most talented musicians you could meet - and they play with a big sound in a popular style.

The reason this might be divisive is that this music has a lot more to over than the pop sound you’d find displayed by the chilli pipers or the Corrs for example.

I used to love the Corrs’ version of Toss the Feathers when I first got back into Traditional Music. I loved banging the bodhran along to it and felt almost pure elation at times- I truly loved it. I couldn’t understand why some friends who loved Trad quite hated this recording- but they did. I suspected they were just snobs.

However, some time into my deep dive into Scottish and Irish music I relistened to the recording of the Corrs - I found the playing robotic and the tone of the fiddle ghastly :). I really didn’t enjoy it anymore and it didn’t chime with the profound experiences I’d had with traditional music, both live and recorded. It didn’t tap into the ‘spiritual’ (I use this loosely) depths of traditional music - that hit you deepest in the soul.

On the contrary- the chilli pipers are masters at their instruments in any setting - but still they are not going for any depth with their music. They want to play pop music and pipe tunes with a pop ‘aesthetic’ (or whatever the music alternative is). I expect it is great fun at a festival etc. If you are enjoying the chilli pipers - great - life offers many pleasures! There is a lot to enjoy - and so you should.

After a while for many though ‘we will rock you’ backed with drums and base becomes trite compared with the profound musicality, fun and meaning offered by our traditional music.

Peace!

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

My guess, speaking for England, is that if you pass through enough town centres favoured by buskers - or the same one(s) often enough - you are almost certain to come upon someone or other playing trad music. Odds-on this will be Irish or Scottish tunes, the latter often being played on the Highland bagpipes by people in kilts etc. Overall, the standard of music can range from dismaying to excellent.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Regarding some of the comments about Chinese trad, the university I attend attracts a lot of Chinese international students, and I have met several who either play Chinese trad in some capacity, or else are interested in it. I’m not sure what the situation is, but there definitely seems to be some following for the music.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

On another note, my friend sent me a video that she took last summer in a farmer’s market in Bellmont, Massachusetts, in which a Scottish fiddle orchestra was playing a nice Cape Breton march. It seems like there would be a few places in the US where trad music might exist outside sessions, and the Northeast is probably one of those areas, especially in terms of Celtic, klezmer, old-time and bluegrass music.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Gobby: "Elevator music can be quite uplifting."

Sometimes, but just as often, I find it to be a downer.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

It’s really interesting to hear that everyone’s experience is different. It sounds like in general Irish and Scottish trad are more common to hear than English trad, even in England itself.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Highland Cathedral is a popular pipe band tune. Some folk get snotty because it was written by some German composers. It is a popular pipe tune.
So is Scotland the Brave.
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are a successful music entity. Very talented players and a pretty good business model. There. If you hear them you know who they are.
Neither is elevator music.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

I would say that hearing trad music in a public setting in Ireland or Scotland might be about as likely as hearing American Old Time music in a store in the U.S. Not to say that it couldn’t happen, but I think it would most likely be in a place that is catering to tourists.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

"Highland Cathedral is a popular pipe band tune. Some folk get snotty because it was written by some German composers."

Well, it’s bit more nuanced than that. As a piper, I’ve heard and played (under duress) the tune for going on twenty years. I’ve never heard pipers talking/complaining about the origins of the tune. The problem, from a piper’s standpoint, is that it sounds a bit like a composite of many tunes. It’s bland, and just not inspiring from a musicians standpoint. But yes, it has found an enduring place at weddings and similar events. Others may love it, but I find it fits most appropriately into the category of what some refer to as Scottish Cheese.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

@choons,

I also started my adventures listening to the Corrs and thinking they were the hottest things ever. It was only a couple of years ago that I picked up a Martin Hayes album and realized they had lifted his arrangements of tunes everything from the phrasing to the timing (Forgiven Not Forgotton especially!).

Cheers,

Melany

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Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

I suppose, in thinking about it, I don’t hear a lot of American old-time music (other than Christmas music during that season), unless I’m somewhere that is more touristy or at a place which appeals more towards the older generations.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Hi The Wanderer,
I think that Choons and allan21 have answered your query about The Red Hot Chilli Pipers and summarised well what they do (including there being a pool of players so that there may be more than one group out playing under that name - - - which they may have parodied from a well-known rock band!) Yes, they are all great musicians, but their music may not be everyone’s cup of tea (see Marmite below): personally, I enjoy what they do, but it has to be the live experience: I wouldn’t be likely to sit down and listen to a whole CD of their music. They go down well at big stadium events, e.g. playing the warm-up to a rugby international at Murrayfield stadium in Edinburgh, and I have also seen them at big events at the Highland showground on the outskirts of town.
As for Highland Cathedral - you do hear very polarised views about it - love it or loathe it, like Marmite ( a yeast extract spread you can put on bread, similar to Australian Vegemite!) My parents both loved that tune, so it was played at both of their funerals (recorded versions). I went through about 100 versions on iTunes until I found what I thought was the best one: Grampian Police Pipe band (appropriate too as my parents lived in Aberdeenshire). Too many versions were messed up/distorted by horrible electronic/synth unnecessary additions. Not so sure about the various sung versions - more than one set of lyrics have been written.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

> and realized they had lifted his arrangements of tunes

Once you’ve been around a while, it’s surprising how much you start to be able to trace. There was a (young) singer through here recently and I could name about four songs in a row down to which record from the 70s she’d learnt them off.

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Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

If you’re going to borrow/steal take it from the good ones.
;)

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Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Ceilidhs are popular for weddings/university clubs/corporate events and any other sort of gathering you can imagine, and I think Scottish schools do them too. If you’re involved in any of the above, you’ll hear trad music.

You hear it played on the PA in lots of pubs, especially up north. I stuck my head into the pub at Glenelg today and they were playing Shooglenifty on the PA, and then we went to the one in Kintail (unlike Glenelg, they had space for us to eat), and they had some pipe band thing.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Well Allan21 as I explained Highland Cathedral was literally elevator music, playing inside the lift of an Edinburgh hotel, in 2004. It had recently become a huge hit; soon it would start functioning almost as an Anthem, being played when Scotland takes the pitch at Murrayfield for example.

Now in my native central West Virginia, mountain music and bluegrass is all around. When a prominent fiddler died it was literally front-page news. Heck we had a Governor that played fiddle!

Turn on the radio and you either hear a Preacher or fiddles & banjos. Out in the country there are no other sorts of stations. (In Charleston there’s a hip-hop station too.)

If you go to an outdoor festival like the Mountain State Arts & Crafts Fair there’s a little stage (actually a piece of plywood laid on the grass) with mountain music all day.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

@The wanderer: "It sounds like in general Irish and Scottish trad are more common to hear than English trad, even in England itself…"

I completely forgot to mention the obvious, in my post above, regarding specifically English trad: its most obvious manifestation in the streets, especially in the warmer months - is, Morris dancers!

They are frequently to be seen, at weekends and especially Bank Holiday weekends, all over England, notably in attractive rural towns with enough reputable real ale pubs to sustain their energies and their habit of putting large quantities of the stuff away. They will invariably inhabit one or more of the pubs when they have finished dancing and play there, the repertoire characteristically extending beyond Morris tunes per se and including singing. But it might be hard to get a foot in the room where this is happening - it will often be packed out with the Morris dancers and devotees.

Morris (as I understand it) has three long-standing traditional English heartlands; the Cotswolds, the Welsh Border, and the North-West. Morris sides tend to concentrate on dances from one in particular of these three traditions. That need not imply any pre-existing connection on the part of dancers with these actual places or their historical dancing traditions - Morris is prevailingly a revival thing, taken up by a great many people of various places and backgrounds who just happen to like it.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Take back the streets!

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Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

For Ireland I’d say it depends where you are. If you walked through Galway or dingle say, you’d be almost guaranteed to hear trad. But if you did the same thing in athlone or portlaois it’d be much less likely. It’s around just about everywhere though. Just harder to find once you leave the west coast and the more touristy towns. Ballads and folk songs are more common than tunes. Christy Moore, the Dubliners, that kind of thing.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

I’ve always wanted to go to a ceilidh.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

If anyone was in Hastings this weekend, they would have heard almost continuous traditional music for Jack in the Green.
I trust everyone had a fabulous May Day et cetera!

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

There’s a lot of trad in Hastings (UK). As Yhaal House said, Jack In The Green weekend is just finished, but there are three pubs with sessions on tonight (Tuesday) – monthly Irish session at the Albion; weekly open session at the Stag; and a closed session at the Dolphin.
With all the music going on in the town, it’s not unusual to hear bands that include traditional music playing pub gigs or at the many local festivals/events. My wife and I play trad for an hour each week in the local hospital. Next Saturday we start again on an annual series of gigs for the local hospice, playing at their fund raising open garden events. In the past we have played in local cafes and at civic award events. Plenty of public performances of all types of trad going on all the time including singarounds, shanty singing, barn dances and busking. And with several local sides, there’s always the morris dancing!
Oh, and the annual fleadh organised by our local Comhaltas branch.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Sometimes at a local festival (not a music festival).
Occasionally there will be a busker or two in one of the towns, but these are not usually trad players as such - maybe just one or two trad tunes played along with other tunes.
At New Year and Burns Night celebrations there will sometimes be a piper.
Other than that, I can’t say that I’ve heard much in the way of trad in the locality (Wales).

(I am a lurker brought out of the woodwork by The Great Lurker Uprising thread ;-) )

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

>> I am a lurker brought out of the woodwork by The Great Lurker Uprising thread

Woohoo! My work here is done ;-)

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

>> Woohoo! My work here is done ;-)

Maybe not quite - I think us lurkers will be needing a bit more encouragement yet! ;-)

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

Paul Dengate has just reminded me: my friends and I, mainly from Scots Music Group, play in local Farmers’ Markets, as official buskers, maybe 8-10 of us at any one time. Unamplified but we are told it enhances the atmosphere in the market.
We also play for local community groups with various disabilities: visually impaired, dementia groups, care homes, etc. With the latter groups we try to pick tunes and songs to provoke memories: anecdotally, we have been told tnat, for example, some of the dementia sufferers who have been pretty uncommunicative, have suddenly burst into song when we have played an old favourite of theirs.

Re: If you live in the UK or Ireland, how likely are you to hear trad music in non-pub or session settings?

We have a radio station…Radio na Gaeltachta and a TV staton. ..TG4….
Both dedicated to Irish language and culture….lots of traditional music here, especially on the radio chanel.
There are some trad music programmes on Saturday and Sunday evenings on Radio 1 also.
There are some "Ceoltas " groups in many places in Ireland and the UK…they provide classes and concerts etc. in a non pub setting….ask around.