Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

Perhaps a silly topic but it arises from a difference of a opinion with a work colleague.

One view was that most music in pubs in Ireland is weighted towards vocal and the other opinion was that it was weighted towards instrumental.

Like the poor guy staring down the barrel of Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum "I gots to know"

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

I’d have thought that it was more weighted towards the instrumental. Some would say that was also the case in Scotland but it depends where you go. It’s probably easier for an instrumental session to thrive in a pub environment as you really need a respectful, if not quiet, environment for singers.
From my visits to Ireland, I have been to pubs which encourage both formats and arrangements can be fairly loose. Of course, there’ll also be serious sessions and some will be purely instrumental. However, in my experience, the "It wouldn’t happen in Ireland" scenario discussed in previous threads doesn’t necessarily apply.

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

Definately, definately, vocal … and more country & western than anything else…just try going to an unfamiliar town in Ireland with no prior session location knowledge and try trawling the pubs looking for a session ….. it’ll be C&W, Daniel O’Donnell, Foster&Allen …guaranteed!! I think Michael Gill once said C&W is *the* Irish trad music…I think he’s right.

Jim

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

Yes, but if you go to Scottish pubs without "session knowledge", you’ll come across a lot of dross too and it’s usually predominantly vocal. Pub managers and the average punter seem to prefer this, unfortunately.
I, maybe, misunderstood Donnchad’s post at first. He’s probably referring to music pubs in general where I was focusing on "session pubs".

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

Speaking as a guitar player working in Dublin I’d say the emphasis is mainly on vocal. In Dublin, most pubs are centered around attracting tourists so they encourage a few jigs/reels etc. but prefer you to do mostly ‘comeallye’s’. If you are inDublin and want a ‘real’ session (ie purely instrumental except for the occaisional ‘sean nos’ ) then go to Slattery’s pub in Rathmines on a Thursday night!

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

I wish advertising for sessions would specify tune or song session - several times I’ve turned up at pubs to be faced with about a dozen guitars. Not only is it a long wait to play some tunes but when you do it’s back to the issue of how many accompanists do you need!!! It’s not that I don’t enjoy the singing - well some of it anyway!! Maybe I should just add fiddle accompaniment to all the songs whether I know then or not just to get revenge!!

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

In the pubs around here (SW Scotland) I can only think of two puely tune sessions, one ITM based the other more Scottish based. Virtually ever session advertised or passed by word of mouth seems to be "folk" based (and I’m not putting that down) With a preponderance towards song. Perhaps this is because its easier to learn a few songs to sing badly when drunk than it is to spend years doing the same with an instrument🙂

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

In Boston, Ma. it is tunes mostly with the occasional song.
But if you leave Boston and head out to the smaller cities you start to hear more songs, some bluegrass and sea shanties in the mix.

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

It depends on many factors, the location, the individual bar, the people who are in the bar that day… So it’s not as black and white as "Is the balance weighted towards instrumental or vocal". Sometimes (depending on the bar, and who is there) there can be "fully" singing seisiúns, but mostly it is a mixture between singing and playing tunes. In Ireland, singers would (in most cases) certainly get more order than musicians, when order is usually called for them to sing a song, but again this would depend on the pub.

Unfortunately in Ireland, Irish traditional music is not VERY popular except in designated pubs etc, so a lot of people would just look upon the music as background music anyhow and try and talk over it.

I suppose with regard to the question if the balance is weighted towards tunes or songs, then it would depend on the number of singers living in the vicinity willing to sing, how willing they are to sing (or have to be persuaded)… there’s really too many variables to answer such a question definitively.

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

I was in Dublin last Easter and it was definately instrumental. It was impossible for a singer to be heard over the noise in the pubs, except when a chap came and sang a loyalist song and got the pub closed early!
The comment from the session leader - "Be wary, I think your man’s trained"

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

I’m curious as to the kind of C&W music that is popular in Ireland-classic (old) country or modern country?

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

Jim, don’t know what Ireland your were in, but not the one that I’m living in! Yes you will find CW, and also classical, jass,blues, punk and the likes but this will be provided in bars with a reputation for this stuff. In general if you travel along any part of the west coast you find a session. The singing one is more popular and will start with out warning as all you need is few drinks and the words to a few IRA songs and your away. You will find sessions at funerals, wake houses, weddings and so and so. Irish music is Irish and never ever make a mistake about that. Alot was taken from us but not our music

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

In Rhode Island, USA, and it is advertised as an Irish session, it is mostly tunes, with a few songs in the mix. Even at the one pub where a singer leads the session, it is still 2/3 tune and 1/3 song. Up in Boston, you will find a few pubs that do sing-along sessions where everyone sings the old favorites, but even up there, it is more tunes than songs.
Al Brown

Re: Music in Irish Pubs - Is the Balance weighted towards Instrumental or Vocal

I guess you’re right, compaqjohn, seeing as how you live there.
My early visit to Ireland years ago consisted of two days, one in Tralee, the other in Dublin. I wasn’t even there on a music visit, didn’t know the places, and as sod’s law would have it, practically every pub I tried had comtemporary country & western - some good, some grim.

Know lots better now, though! 🙂

Jim