Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

The quality of the Trad Irish music at various sessions can, of course, vary considerably. Sometimes it’s absolutely cooking and, frankly, as we all know, sometimes it can be hard work and a bit dismal!
But there are those amongst us (musos and *billies) who are blind/ deaf as to whether it is good or not as they love it regardlessly. Simply because it is Irish.
I want to play GOOD MUSIC. If it happens to be Irish, great. I never want to play sub-standard music even if it is Irish.

*Billy Bunters= punters

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

A lot of what I play and like is Scottish, or French Canadian.. Or even Spanish.

I most enjoy them in a(n Irish) session setting though.

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Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

The problem with some sessions is that you will often get people coming along who "Self Identify" themselves as musicians.
🙂

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

Because of how it feels to play it.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

It’s not uncommon for listeners to like the ‘Irish music’ even when it isn’t Irish.

Because of the music

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

The former but people seem to assume the latter. If I had a pound for every time someone asked me, "Are you Irish," I’d be hoarding my millions in offshore tax havens. Me and Jeff Bezos.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

the former, 100%. At its best, it has everything, the rock of rock, the soul of soul, the jazz of jazz, to paraphrase Tony McMahon.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

and it’s fun to play!

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

It’s possible to like both. There are issues on both sides of the coin. It depends what you mean by ‘good’ music. There are plenty of people with some technical command of their instrument who don’t play with an ounce of nyah or truckly-how about it. That’s also no fun at all. It ‘is’ Irish traditional music so it’s only likely to be ‘good’ when it sounds like it. I’d certainly rather listen to a scratchy old fiddle playing ‘right’ than a classical violin that isn’t.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

Good music is good music!

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

There’s no such thing as "good" or "bad" music. There’s music you like, music you don’t like, and music you haven’t yet heard.

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Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

Irish music breaks or bends some of the conventions of other musics. I like that. But mostly I like playing tunes.

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Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

Because of the music!!
It just happens to be a kind of music that appeals to me. Both the way it sounds and how it is played.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I like the music. But i like lots of musical styles, mainly traditional music. I like unique flavors, and i like them to stay unique.

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Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I love Irish music - there’s something beautiful and a bit ‘strange’ about it - it can give me gooseflesh. But I love it for its music, not for its nationality.

I also love Scottish music - there’s something lovely about it, but I confess, I do partly love it because I have Scottish ancestry. It speaks to me as no other music does, though I don’t think that it’s superior to Irish music as music - rather the reverse!

I love English music too, but even though I am as English as I’m Scottish, and grew up in England, I don’t feel it ‘in my bones’ as I do with Scottish music. I just love the tunes - especially Playford.

It’s lovely that in such a small corner of the world there are so many different ‘styles’ of tune, and all gorgeous.

Lucky me, to have picked up my fiddle again. What a time to be alive.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I guess it’s a bit of both for me. I certainly love the music for what it is. But I also consider Ireland to be pretty special, and I try to spend as much time there as I can - not just for the music, but also for the people, and the climate, and the scenery. So the fact that I love the music is pretty intertwined with the fact that I love Ireland.

But even if I had never been to Ireland, I would still play the music, I think. (That’s hard to say for sure, because I didn’t start playing until after I had been to Ireland the first time, when I was traveling with musicians that were sitting in sessions every night, so that was part of the original appeal for me…)

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I like it both because of the energy and emotional content of the music itself and the lifetime of work and learning that it provides.

Coming from a classical music background, it was wonderful to find a body of music that had the same challenges I found in classical playing, but with a social element I never saw in the local classical scene. Switched over about 30 years ago and never looked back.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

As a person with no claim to Irishness by birth, ancestry, residency or any other criterion, it is because of the music itself.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

For me, it’s the music, followed closely by the fellowship that comes with the session scene. I like the melodies, modes, the rhythms, the lilt and lift. Still, I’ve learned a fair amount about Ireland over the years from my participation in the genre, and I have deep respect and fondness for the country.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I’d say I like it because of the music, but then, it’s probably not coincidental that I tend to prefer Irish and Scottish music (and American stuff with a big influence from that) to, say, Scandinavian or Balkan fiddle music.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I do like Irish traditional music because of the music, that’s for sure.
And because it is Irish ? No, because it is by a total coincidence that I (French speaking Belgian) discovered Irish traditional music thanks to a (Belgian) friend who made me listening to a recording by The Bothy Band. If, at that time, someone had told me that this music was from another country, that wouldn’t have changed anything for me.

This said, the question can be understood in other ways.
Do you like flamenco because it is Spanish, fado because it is Portuguese, bluegrass because it is American, music by Sir Edward Elgar because it is English, James Scott Skinner’s music because it is Scottish, J.S. Bach’s music because it is German, Vivaldi music because it is Italian ? The answer should be no (at least for non natives) ; mine is negative. You like it because, according to your education, you think and/or feel it is good music, and that’s it. But one can understand that a part of Spanish people like flamenco not only because of the character of this music, but also because it is Spanish, which means in my mind “because they are proud of their cultural richness (and identity)”.

Do I like Irish traditional music for its social role ? As a Belgian who went some 15 times to Ireland (mainly in Dublin, but also in Sligo and Galway) since 1981, I answer “Yes, I do” even if this is not my culture. Most sessions I attended and took part to were very nice, even if there were – rarely – (depends on the place, I guess) musicians who were not good enough (that’s not the point here), even if sometimes it was too “crowdy” and too noisy (once again, that’s not the point here). I always met nice people, musicians and non-musicians.
Do I like Irish traditional music because it is Irish, in the sense that it is not … (which country could I mention without possibly hurting or displeasing anyone ?) OK, let’s rather say : in the sense that it is not from somewhere else ? My answer is “no, I don’t, at all”.
Do I like Irish traditional music because 99,9 % of the Irish musicians I met are nice people ? No, but in the social (sessions) and/or human context, this adds something great and wonderful, indeed.

Now, the trickiest aspect of the question :
Do I like Irish traditional music because it is Irish, in the sense that it is not as “serious” and/or “deep” and/or … bla-bla-bla … as J.S. Bach’s music, and, therefore, because Irish traditional music wouldn’t be what it is if it was from another country ? My answer is “No, I don’t. I like this music. And it happens that it is Irish. End of story.” One shouldn’t compare apples to pears, anyway. But, on the other hand, I do like Ireland and its people a lot.
This said, Irish traditional music is unique. I truly think that Irish trad music is actually what it is because of the character, nature, disposition and personality of the Irish musicians for centuries, and these are what they are because of the history, climate (and so forth) of their country. J.S. Bach and Beethoven’s music corresponds to Germany, Vivaldi’s and Verdi’s music corresponds to Italy, Fr. Couperin’s, Saint-Saëns’, Debussy’s music is indisputably French, Granados and de Falla’s music sounds so much Spanish that, with a very little experience, you can’t possibly say that these composers were from Hungary. Flamenco couldn’t have been born in Finland. Swedish traditional music is very distinctive and its tunes have nothing in common with Greek traditional music. Not to speak of Russian music, and so on. These are facts, not just feelings or impressions.
So what ? According to me, it’s definitely not because this or that music comes from this or that country or region that one can/should like it or not. Although Boris Johnson could probably dare to say that French, German and any other European continental music are not good !!! Not so funny, in fact, but that’s another story and not the place to talk about that.

My last words are certainly the most important, and I’m not the first one to write them : “Good music is good music, whereever it comes from.”

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Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I was attracted to Irish music before I knew it was Irish. The dance tunes are irresistible and the ballads are beautiful. Both can be played unaccompanied. As a flute player, that allows me to play for hours by myself. Could you ask for more? Well, Yes! A weekly session with good players who are now good friends. Thank you for asking!

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Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I can locate myself by associated dateable events as being under three years old when I first distinguished Irish music from everything else played on the radio. That was in Manchester (UK) in the early 1950’s. They played a fair bit of Irish music on the BBC back then, and from a child’s mind I embraced it as being ‘magic music’. Now, as I head for 70 years, I play it on my fiddle, only for myself, and I still think it has a magic. Other than that I don’t know how to answer your question Yhaal House.

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Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

Thanks, Moxhe, for your thoughtful answer. It is more or less what I would have liked to say but didn’t have the patience or articulacy.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

Yes, Moxhe’s answer is excellent and, for most of us, sufficient. I suspect however that Yhaal’s question is somehow conveying some underlying cynicism. …….Well, it’s Yhaal House, isn’t it?

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Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

Well, Moxhe, that was a long response. Forums are ideal for saying "end of story" only to continue a bit farther beyond that point making the point seem almost like a contradiction. You did try to make up for that bit in the last bit which makes it sound more like most members agree about what makes music good, "My last words are certainly the most important, and I’m not the first one to write them…"

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Re: Do you like the traditional irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I like itm because it is irish, that is the only way I know to take what I like about this music & *put all of it into a singular genre*. [However] Once I consider all the different styles, players, tune types, individual tunes, different settings, all the minutiae I can no longer make a blanket statement that I like all of it indiscriminately. So, as a genre I like irish music because it is irish. But once it’s about a particular tune, session or who I’m with it is about the music & not because it might be considered irish; or Irish.

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Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I think that for some in the diaspora communities the music an important part of Irish identity and tradition. That in itself does not negate the fact that the music is infinite in scope and beauty. And timeless.
Because the music is Irish and because it is beautiful are two parts of a whole and need not be separated. Nor should we have to chose one over another.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I like ITM because:

I like beautiful melodies
It’s happy music.
I like modal or minor, "slightly-off" melodies.
It is accessible to non-professional musicians (like me).
You can learn a tune, learn another, get better by stages, learn some more… How good do you want to get? Mastery comes from time on the floor, and that is within your own control.

Yeah, how many times do I get asked if I’m Irish. The cultural aspects are valuable and interesting for their own sake, but that isn’t specifically why I like it.

Oh. I really love the deep resonance and warmth of the flute - it is like a living creature under my fingers. The chirpy treble of the whistle can be fun, it coulda-mighta been the fiddle, but…. it is really the voice and breath of the flute that calls me.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

How many times have I been asked if I’m Irish? Well for me it was just once, and it was an Irishman living locally here, who asked me. Well, what he actually asked was, "What part of Ireland do you come from?" I told him that I was born on an island just off the Irish coast. He asked me what the island was called and I told him,….. "England". He laughed.

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Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I like Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Manx, Breton, Cornish, English (not in any particular order btw) music. I don’t like any just because they’re from wherever they’re from - I like them because they’re amazing tunes. There are many Irish tunes I really DON’T like too.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I play several different styles of music, and I like to listen to a lot of different styles. Their ethnicity is intrinsic, but that is not the reason I like any piece of music. There is Irish music I don’t like. Some of it is just plain dreadful.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

"Some of it is just plain dreadful." ….. Hmmm… I imagine that it’s possible, but I can’t actually think of any ITM tune that I would call ‘dreadful’. Okay, lots of them are played dreadfully, but that’s another thing. Or maybe you could name one that would make me change my mind.

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Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

@Gobby: A tune I find most dreadful no matter how it is played is "Tam Lin".

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

According to thesession.org. Tam Lin - "There are 91 recordings of a tune by this name."

So someone’s wrong. Either the people who’ve recorded it and the thousands who took the time to learn it, or the people who say it’s dreadful.
A perfect example of Kenny’s point, " There’s music you like, music you don’t like, and music you haven’t yet heard."

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

"Tam Lin" or "The Glasgow Reel" isn’t one of my favourites. I’ll play it but not usually through choice.

It’s usually played as one of these "show off pieces" in a session. Maybe starting off at a reasonable pace and getting increasingly faster and hectic each time around.

There are other similar tunes in this "family" such as The Tongadale Reel, The Anvil and a few others. I’m not saying they are all necessarily bad in themselves but it’s the treatment they are usually given which tends to annoy and irritate me.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I didn’t mean particular tunes! I’m referring to the overall musical quality of a session regardless of what tunes are played.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

Of course, and as we’ve often discussed here before, "Irish Tunes" and "Irish music" are not the same thing.

The "music" itself is more about style, attitude, setting etc and will also include tunes from elsewhere and recent compositions.

"Irish tunes" get played in many different circumstances too. By Scottish ceilidh bands, fiddle orchestras, pub bands, and in otherwise very Scottish sessions. Also in other countries too, of course, where they get "mixed in" with the local music. However, it’s not "Irish Music" as such, in my opinion although you CAN and DO get good "Irish Music Sessions" anywhere.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

It’s the tunes.
I recently heard a brilliant lecture on Scottish music, and found out that some of my fave Irish trad tunes were actually Scottish. Don’t like them any less for it. So there you go.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

Gobby, correct, some of it is played dreadfully.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I like it even when it’s Scottish, English, Cape Breton, French or American.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I liked Irish music the first time I heard it. I didn’t know it was "Irish" nor at the time (age 12 or 13) did I have much of an idea what Ireland was. I saw the Chieftains on TV, an entire half-hour show of them playing. I thought they were a Baroque ensemble or some such, and I was immediately fascinated by the uilleann pipes, not that I understood what they were.

Later in my teens I started playing Highland pipes (not having much of an idea of what Scotland was, once again just attracted to the music) and later yet, at around age 20, did I get my first set of uilleann pipes.

Not until I was in my middle age did I understand that I had some Irish ancestry. Not until I had my DNA done a couple years ago did I find out I was "35% Irish" whatever that is supposed to mean. Only last year did I visit Ireland.

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I like Irish trad music because it is Scottish.

And because it’s English.
And Welsh.
And Irish.
Oh, and Polkas originated in Bohemia or somewhere….
So Irish trad music has many external influences.

I suspect if you take away the reels, jigs, hornpipes, waltzes and polkas, you’d be left with marches and airs. Some of the airs are truly ancient and genuinely Irish, but they don’t often get played out in sessions.

So, there ye go….

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

Cape Breton style for me - most authentic/traditional of all the styles except for maybe Appalachian

Re: Do you like the Traditional Irish music because of the music or because it is Irish?

I hate the music - but it’s Irish so - I just keep going.