Monthly Irish Music Session
In response to a number of requests, we initiated a new monthly session at the Littlefield Celtic Center. This session focuses specifically on the music from the Irish Tradition. Irish traditional music differs in many ways from that of the Scottish, Cape Breton, and Northumbrian genres; tunes are played primarily in the keys of D, G, Em, and Am, and only very rarely is a tune played in the key of A. There are some tunes that do cross over between the Irish tradition and those played in other Celtic regions; but in general the instrumentation, playing styles, settings, and general ‘feel’ of the music is quite different, and it gives this music a sound and a distinctiveness all its own. This initial session will include Irish musicians from sessions throughout the area, and the hope is that it will provide a venue where we can broaden our abilities and expend our repertoire. This will be an ‘open session’ (meaning that anyone can participate); but as is the case with the existing monthly Celtic music session, the general hope and expectation is that musicians will ‘play in’ only on tunes that they already know.
Irish session normally scheduled for the third Sunday of the month, from 1:00-4:00 pm. Our next session is Sunday, May 21st.
A bit of information by way of background. Irish traditional music originated primarily as dance music in the rural areas of the Country, and to a lesser extent by way of musicians who actually composed pieces as tributes to patrons or historical events. Consequently, it includes tunes that often sound simple but which can be extremely challenging to play well. Reels and jigs make up the bulk of the music; but the Irish body of music also includes hornpipes, set dances, polkas, waltzes, laments…even occasional mazurkas or flings. The music is learned and played almost exclusively by ear, and tunes are played together as ‘sets’ of three or more…each of which is repeated a number of times (usually 3) before the next tune is started. The emphasis is on the melody itself (what the Irish like to say is ‘the soul of the tune’); and so while backup and rhythm players are welcome, they are usually asked to play ‘behind’ and ‘under’ the melody players….there is a famous maxim in the Irish tradition suggesting that a session should include only “one guitar, one bodhran,…and one spoon!” That being said, the ultimate goal of any Irish session is to provide a welcoming place where most of those present can play most of the time, where people new to the music can learn not only the tunes but the culture behind the music, and where more experienced players can learn tunes and technique from players outside their usual sessions. We welcome both listeners and those who are interested in learning to play this music themselves. Please feel free to bring recording devices and ask questions; we do request, however, that you leave music books and stands at home, and that you not use personal hand-held-devices during the session. Looking forward to seeing you there!