More questions about Irish ceili music

Request: Irish country music.

This is a general term for any kind of Irish folk music, but it means different things to different people. Most people think of it in terms of modern Irish folk music which is played in a very upbeat style. However a lot of very traditional country music is totally different. Some are fiddle styles for solo violin of southern Ireland, is very stilted, played very much in the style of hornpipes, though they're not hornpipes, and would not be recognised as Irish music by many people. Then there is the music of the blind harpist O'Carolan  (Toirḋealḃaċ Ó Cearḃalláin or Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin, 1670 – 25 March 1738), whose music underpins much of Irish country music, but years of many is a cross between Vivaldi, Joseph Haydn and Irish folk music. Yet others consider Irish folk country music to be folk singing. It's obviously important to establish what the customer is looking for. 

Request: Irish country dancing.

The main forms of Irish country dancing are covered in the paragraphs above. It is clear from that that there are very many forms of quite different dancing that can come under the heading of Irish country dancing, and if we have a request for Irish country dancing we have to establish what is in the hire is mind. It probably means they're wanting to book an Irish Ceilidh Band, but we have to make sure.

Request: Irish Kaylee.

This is just another of the alternative spellings of Ceili 

Request: Irish ceili dance.

An Irish ceilidh dance usually comprises group dances in sets of 4 to 8 people, often paired off in couples, but importantly if it is a dance held outside of Ireland then it comprises dances that are relatively easy to learn by non experts and which can be taught by a caller on the night in 5 to 10 minutes. The dances are done to Irish folk tunes. The meaning of an Irish ceilidh dance with an island sometimes a little different in that although it is grouped dancing it can also include some the more complicated dances that are not called but are learnt unknown by the dancers.           

Other related requests are: Irish dances, Irish ceilidh dances, ceili Irish dance;    

Request:.Irish bands.

This is another general request that has to be investigated to understand what kind of Irish band the hire has in their mind. Other similar requests in the same category are: Irish groups;  Irish music groups; Irish folk music bands;  Irish country music bands. 

Request:Irish pub music.

The main thing to establish here is whether the hirers thinking in terms of a session instrumental band or a folk singing band. Some people are thinking in terms of a band like the Dubliners, and others (particularly a while ago when the film the Titanic was on release), about an instrumental session band. At that time we had a lot of requests for a band like on the Titanic, and I even remember playing for I Titanic commemoration dinner. Nobody seemed very amused when I suggested that they all should drown themselves in the end of the dinner if they really want to be traditional, they will, not everybody's got a good sense of humour.

If I recall correctly there was small Irish band in the film, who drowned the end of course, but I also seem to recall the soundtrack was not a three-piece band something like a ten piece band or more. But that's Hollywood for you, reality doesn't come into it.

We played his trio quite recently for a wedding drinks reception, where the groom had Irish ancestry and there were a lot of Irish at the wedding. They wanted to recreate the sort of music that they had heard in pubs in Ireland. It worked really well, though it was rather surreal but there were three of us (fiddle, Irish whistle and flute, guitar) playing folk music in our casual attire, whilst the guests were in dinner jackets long dresses and all taking place in the magnificent stately home. But good music is good music anywhere, and Irish music is particularly good.      


Request: here are a selection request we get that are connected with Irish folk singing: Irish drinking songs;  Irish songs;  old Irish songs, Irish ballads songs; Irish singers and bands; Irish folk singers;  Irish folk songs, Irish celtic music; Irish celtic songs;  traditional Irish wedding songs;  Irish song;   Irish ballad singers; Irish singing groups; Irish country songs; Northern Irish songs;  Irish ballads;  

as is often the case with general requests, this can mean anything from some of the Irish pop bands to some of the most obscure solo singing at the folk movement can produce. Some years ago in my own ceilidh band we had a lovely Irish girl who was the bands flautist, but she also sang, in Irish Gaelic. They were beautifully melodic songs, as far removed from the well-known songs of people like the Dubliners as one could get. She refused absolutely to sing and if the well-known songs. So we never offered the band as is folk singing band, though she did sometimes do songs between the dances.       


Request: the following requests usually come under the heading of an Irish session band, generally an instrumental music band but sometimes including traditional Irish folk singing, though such a band is more often referred to as an Irish folk band. Typical requests are: Trad Irish music  Irish traditional music; Irish trad (this is a weird one, are they asking folk band or tread jazz band?);   Irish folk bands; Irish folk music; live Irish music; old Irish music; traditional Irish music;   

Request: Irish bands for hire.

This is sensible thing as a search term for somebody who is looking to hire an Irish band of some sort, there would be more sensible to be more specific, for example Irish session bands for hire or Irish ceilidh bands for hire. 

Request: what instruments are in the Irish band lineup?

There are quite a range of instruments that are traditionally used in Irish folk music. 

The Fiddle.

The fiddle, along with the melodeon and whistle, is a mainstay of Irish folk session bands or ceilidh bands. It is played in a somewhat different style to that of Scottish or English folk fiddle. Indeed it is interesting to hear the same tune (which is probably claimed to be English, Irish and Scottish by the respective nationalities), played in the different styles.

The English style is either frightfully nice, or rather clunky depending on the tune. The Scottish style is very precise and militaristic. The Irish style is about flow. They should be no beginning and no end to the tune, it just goes on and on, much like the southern Irish way of speaking which has a flow and continuity that only the Irish can achieve. 


The Irish flute has an extremely rich and mellow tone. Technically it is closer to a baroque flute than to the modern concert flute and has no or very limited number of keys. Instrument can be physically difficult to play on two counts. The first is that it is a less efficient instrument the modern concert flute in terms of breath requirement, and it needs a lot of puff. The second is that having only finger holes, and no key mechanisms, the stretch between holes can be considerable. This can make it very tiring for a person who is used to playing a modern concert flute. 

The whistle.

The simplest derivative is the small tin whistle. Although the simplest of instruments, because of its high pitched sound and limited harmonics, sound of it can be heard above the complete ceilidh band of instruments. More sophisticated versions of this instrument are produced in polymer materials in a range of sizes, each one in a different key. Because the instrument is so simplistic it basically plays in just one key, and whistle player may have several instruments that they will swap between during a performance. 

Bagpipes and uilleann pipes.

There are a number of different forms of bagpipe used in Irish music, indeed in Celtic music in general, including the Celtic parts of Spain. The most popular form of pipe which can be integrated into the session band because of its moderate volume and pleasant tonality, are the uilleann or small pipes. They are played sitting down and the airflow is provided by bellows. This means that the musician can talk or sing, or indeed drink beer, while playing. There volume level is suited to the traditional pub session environment.

There are also outdoor Irish pipes, essentially similar to the Scottish Highland pipes, which are normally played outdoors as solo instruments or in pipe bands. They are much harsher in tone and their particular characteristic is their extreme volume. They are not instruments to be played indoors with the session band. There are some bands who incorporate them into Irish ceilidh bands, and whilst the rest of the instruments have to play through a PA system to amplify them above the sound of the dancing feet on the laughing dancers, the piper doesn't need any of that. They will win on the volume stakes, whatever.