I'm not including instruments or playing styles in this section, because
that topic has a section of its own. What I have in mind here is how traditional
music relates to society, the folklore of tune titles, interesting stories,
I'm open to suggestions for additional topics to be included here.
The interesting topic of what the state of music in Ireland was before
the 18th century was taken up by Donegal music expert Caoimhín Mac
Aoidh on the IRTRAD-L list. His comments appear
here with permission.
A 1962 conversation with Willie Clancy,
the famed piper, explores his philosophy of traditional music. Also in attendance
were musicians John Vesey and Thomas Standeven. Additional information on
Vesey and Standeven is also provided. Thanks to Seamus Mac an Tailleur
for supplying this material.
Traditional Irish music today is frequently encountered in the "session"
(or even "seisiún"), a gathering of (usually) amateur
musicians where tunes are played in unison by all the musicians who know
the tune. Such events usually occur at regularly scheduled times, and usually
take place in a establishment where dark foamy beverages are easily procured.
The participants are generally not paid, except sometimes with free pints
of dark foamy beverages, and for that reason they typically huddle in a
dark corner rather than sitting on a stage. It's often assumed that like
goings-on date back at least to the times of Brian Boru. But the evidence
for the origin of the "session" tells
a much different story.
Francis O'Neill is renowned for his monumental collection of Irish
dance music, made in Chicago during the early years of the 20th century.
But his day job was Police Chief of Chicago. Here's an
interesting incident that sheds some light on his character: anarchist
"Red Emma" Goldman describes how Chief O'Neill cleared her of
charges of complicity in the assassination of President McKinley.
Is Danny Boy really an Irish song? And, if not, where did it
come from, and why do we think it is Irish? Maybe you saw that show that
was on my local PBS station a while back, Danny Boy: In Sunshine or in
Shadow, that featured such exciting clips as Eric Clapton discussing
De Dannan's versionthat one that more or less made all the traditional
music crowd consider them to be totally artistically bankrupt.
While Eric Clapton probably knows a lot about blues music, I'm not sure that
I would choose him as an authority on Irish folk songs. But then I don't work in
Actually, I've received e-mail from the producer of the show, and I can report that
he is truly
obsessed with his subject (i.e., versions of Danny Boy performed by different
artists). I'm happy to say we agree that Bill Evans and Jackie Wilson
do the best versions (although he was not able to get the rights to include them in the show).
show had very little to say about the actual origin of the song (a distinguished musicologist
appeared onscreen for about 30 seconds). But here you can get the real story, an amazing
100 year long detective yarn!
Go to the Standing Stones Site Map
(listing of the entire contents of this website)
STANDING STONES is registered with the United States Patent and
Trademark Office as a federal service mark. Unauthorized use of this
mark for performing live or recorded music, or providing music-related
information over the Internet, in interstate commerce in the
United States, is prohibited.
For full details on the activities covered by this mark, consult the
US Patent and Trademark Office database.