Who is Irish Traditional Music?

Who is Irish Traditional Music?

It has been said that Louis Armstrong is Jazz.

And whenever I want to point people towards the person that most defines and embodies West Virginia Traditional Music it’s Dwight Diller: born and stayed in the West Virginia hills, inheritor of the store of tunes and lore of the Hammons family, Dwight Diller has spent his life passing on the tradition to the next generation.

I’ll say it: Dwight Diller is West Virginia Traditional Music.

Who, then, is Irish Traditional Music?

Re: Who is Irish Traditional Music?

What might be worth asking is what typically constitutes getting that status - is it personality, playing (heritage/progression), community involvement, innovation, media recognition, intangible style etc

Suspect it’s a combination of what that community holds to be most important combined with some kind of X factor?

Gradam Ceoil might be a place to start when considering?

Re: Who is Irish Traditional Music?

I’m not knowledgable enough in the tradition to answer this.

But I listened a lot to these artists when I started out, and still do;

Martin Hayes
Matt Malloy
Noel Hill
Tonny McMahon

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Re: Who is Irish Traditional Music?

Bríd Harper
Patsy Hanly
Márie Ní Ghráda
Pat Mahon
Catherine McEvoy
Leo Rowsome
Michelle O’Brien
Johnny Doran
Tommy Peoples
Willie Clancy
Deirdre Tasker
To name but a few

Re: Who is Irish Traditional Music?

Legion…. for we are many.

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That’s an interesting question! I don’t feel qualified to give an actual answer, but I’ll give some (perhaps obvious) candidates to discuss:

Séamus Ennis
Willie Clancy
Paddy Fahy
Michael Coleman
Matt Molloy
Tommy Peoples

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Willie Clancy’s the one with a festival named after him…

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WireHarp has it covered!

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Or, for a completely different perspective:

Bob Dylan
Joan Baez
Michael Flatley
Davy Spillane

(Yes, troll emoji. Carry on.)

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I cast another vote for Seamus Ennis. And a shout out to Mick Flaherty, an Irish-American hero.
Thanks Kenny for Micho Russell and recorded in Doolin. Amen.

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Will there be a separate list for people who haven’t died yet?

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Mightn’t it be Paul McCartney?

As far as I’m aware, the top backers/guitarists in the 60s/70s trad revival prevalently learnt their early chops from Lennon/McCartney, Lennon of course being no longer with us. And I dare say The Beatles powered a great deal of the mojo behind the revival. In addition, Paul deffo liked tunes.

Give Paul back to the Irish 🙂…

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Chief O’Neil?

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Louis Armstrong played instrumental jazz (trumpet) at the highest level, and also made innumerable vocal recordings. Add to that he was an ambassador for the music to the wider world.

It’s why I asked the question, because I don’t know if there’s somebody in ITM that has all these things.

I’ve often heard that the heart of ITM is the sean nos. If so, the person who "is" ITM would have to be a sean nos singer. Even if we throw out the sean nos, and say it’s not essential to what ITM is, I would think that nearly everyone would agree that ITM consists of instrumental and vocal traditions. A person couldn’t "be" ITM if not a master of both.

And that’s just the musician. Then there’s the entertainer, the ambassador. No-one would argue that Louis Armstrong wasn’t tops at all of these things.

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Another vote for Seamus Ennis - it could be argued that without him Irish trad might not exist in its current form. If folkies in England were asked ‘who is English Trad Music?’ they might say Cecil Sharp, or Shirley Collins, or Martin Carthy, or Ewan McColl - variously for song and dance collection, research, dedication, musicianship - well in Ireland Seamus Ennis had all those.

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My shout as a whistle player would be Mary ‘trad’ Bergin

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I would say the players in the pubs in Ireland that play Irish trad. The whole scene. For me Irish trad in my head embodies more than just a single player. It’s the atmosphere, the being together aspect, the dancers, the musicians.

I don’t even know three quarters of the names mentioned in the comments while I do know Lois Armstrong (and I am not into Jazz). Outsiders may probably name Riverdance but thats not trad. Outsiders allover the world do know of the whole scene in the pubs, thats why I would say that.

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>"Mightn’t it be Paul McCartney?"

Might have been, except he’s dead.

Hmm, so … Chuck Norris?

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The OP statement that Louis (with an S) Armstrong is Jazz, is not fact, it is journalism, a language that only respects circulation numbers. The notion that anyone represents a genre, is silly. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

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@catty
Paul McCartney dead? Really?

Although not qualified by birthplace I’d nominate Liam O’Flynn

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Well, see…there was this thing in the 60s where it was alleged (and still is by diehards) that Paul was, you know…dead.

So taking up the riff, I surmised that Paul, therefore, could not "be ITM" seeing that he died in his 20s and was therefore far too young to have accomplished "all that." 🙂

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"The notion that anyone represents a genre, is silly. Nothing happens in a vacuum."

I agree, with one possible exception for Bill Monroe, who didn’t invent Bluegrass from scratch but he’s considered the "Father of Bluegrass." He mixed influences from OldTime porch music into a rigid performance band format. He codified what was and wasn’t allowed, to the extent that if you depart too far from his style and the small number of instruments he allowed in a band, then it ain’t Bluegrass as far as fans and musicians in the genre are concerned.

We don’t have that in Irish or Scottish music, due to the longer history with influences from many different players and geographic locations over the years. A good thing, in my view. More different ways to express the music than just one fairly strict format.

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I would argue that Paddy Maloney is the greatest ambassador of Irish traditional music we have. The Chieftains, although not a personal favorite, have played true Irish trad to a wide, wide international audience for many a year without dumbing it down or compromising its character for the sake of popularity or wider appeal. No one else can claim that accomplishment, pure and simple.

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Who is Bullcrap

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For such a broad and deeply rooted tradition as Irish Trad Music the question is ill-posed, I’m afraid. But to name only two from the middle of the XX century: John Doherty and Peter Horan. Two true keepers and promoters of the music. Not to underestimate or diminish others’ life-long dedication to the music.

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I had an answer ready, but it was stated succinctly by Ailin above. The Chieftains were certainly the ambassadors to the world for Irish music for decades.

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I second Paddy Malony, but I don’t have a huge knowledge of ITM history yet.
It’s quite a subjective question.

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Obviously ITM session music is a group/communal thing, as is Jazz, and WVTM. All of them are about having a musical conversation with your fellow players.

And Jazz, ITM, and WVTM are all broad and deep traditions.

We all know these things. And a single person "being" the tradition is obvious hyperbole.

Yet, if someone knew nothing about Jazz I could point them toward Louis Armstrong, and if they knew nothing about WVTM I could point them toward Dwight Diller. If the newbie did some listening to these persons they would come away knowing the essential core of Jazz or WVTM. They might not know all the details, but they would have a basic grounding on what those traditions are about.

About people like Carolan, Bunting, and O Neill, we can’t point newbies toward them as players. Are there any recordings of O Neill? Even if there are they’ve had minimal impact on ITM. It’s through his work as a musicologist that O Neill made his impact.

Personally the first person that came to mind was Joe Heaney. I met him, heard him sing, heard him lilt, heard him tell stories. It was utterly enchanting and I felt like I was in the presence of the tradition itself.

For sure Seamus Ennis must be one of the strongest candidates. Piper, collector, singer, storyteller, ambassador.

And Willie Clancy the embodiment of the tradition, and Paddy Moloney the unparalleled ambassador of Irish music to the wider world. And a personal favourite of mine, Tomas O Canainn. Because having the Irish language, and Irish song, is huge I would think.

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No one has thus far mentioned Mick Moloney. I can’t speak to his impact in Ireland, but his influence on the spread of ITM in North America is huge.

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Richard, WVTM? Sorry for my ignorance!

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West Virginian Traditional Music.

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The question makes me think of Heisenberg’s uncertainty problem in that I don’t think any contemporary observer can define an objective answer to an ever moving and multi- faceted complex phenomenon. Who is traditional today or yesterday will be better answered by people in the future, but even then?

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Richie Kavanagh

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Frankie Gavin

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The assertion that Louis Armstrong is jazz might have been valid in 1926. Nowadays, you can’t even say that he is the sum of New Orleans jazz, since that niche itself is so widely diverse.

As far as ITM goes, I’d vote for Seamus Ennis.

Re: Who is Irish Traditional Music?

Jazz burst onto the scene in North America in the early 20th century, and Louis Armstrong defined it. Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys started bluegrass, but it evolved mainly from Celtic music mixed with blues. Jazz evolved mainly from blues and ragtime, blues evolved from the plantations and was defined by John Handy, and ragtime being defined by Scott Joplin was largely a mix of European dance music, John Phillip Sousa marches and African syncopation. Turlough O’Carolan was heavily influenced by Italian baroque music, which was very popular on the British Isles in the late 17th century. I don’t think that any one recorded musician today could be said to represent modern day traditional Irish music, but I’d argue that Carolan defined it.

Re: Who is Irish Traditional Music?

"No one has thus far mentioned Mick Moloney. I can’t speak to his impact in Ireland, but his influence on the spread of ITM in North America is huge."

Mick is a giant in my book. With that said, according to Wikipedia, Mick Moloney credited Barney Mckenna with "single-handed responsibility" for making the GDAE-tuned tenor banjo the standard banjo in Irish music.

I don’t know who I would say "is ITM." The old and somewhat obscure tradition experienced a renaissance about 60 years ago. I think a more interesting discussion might be: who was responsible for the ITM renaissance? Who were the keepers and rekindlers of the flame?

Re: Who is Irish Traditional Music?

everyone who plays it and passes it on.

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As I am a mandolin player, Mick Moloney has been a huge influence on my playing style. He also was part of the team that revised O’Neill’s back in the ‘70’s. I still say, however, that Carolan defined traditional Irish music as it’s played today.

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That’s an odd statement. Carolan’s music is in no way representative of Irish music, traditional or otberwise. His style was pretty much his own and not what trad musicians play as central to their repertoire, if at all. I am rather fond of some of the lesser played like Planxty Burke and Squire Parsons, but I find nothing quintessentially Irish about either one.

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The Bothy Band, Planxty. the Chieftains.
And Mr Ronnie Drew, cause Irish music is not just speed notes but the humourous
attitude of living a life together, singing along and having a few ( or more ) drinks.