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British Isles Folk Music

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Olivia M.

on 17 December 2013

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Transcript of British Isles Folk Music

British Isles Folk and Traditional Music
by Olivia M. and Valerie K.

What are the British Isles?
The British Isles are a group of islands in north-western Europe that comprise of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Today, the United Kingdom is made up of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
The geography and its influences on music
The islands of Wales, Ireland, and the Scottish Highlands are mountainous and all the islands lie at low altitudes. The coastlines are jagged and winter nights are long and cold. Folk music was developed partly due to a need for entertainment during these long nights.
Socio-Political Background
Christianity is a very widespread religion among the British Isles, as it is the most common religion in all five regions. In the past, churches played a large part in suppressing music and dance.

Musical Characteristics
Jigs are in 6/8 time and slip jigs are in 9/8 time
Hornpipe (dance music) is in 2/2 time
Reels are in 4/4 time
The slide is in 12/8 time
Polkas are in 2/4 time
How is music used in society? What is its purpose? Who performs it? When/why?
Isle of Man:
West gallery musicians performed at special events.
Instruments used
, harpsichord, pipe,
(snare drum), bagpipe,
(medieval woodwind instrument),
hurdy gurdy
Vocal Sounds
Male vocal choirs, non-conformist choral music
Sean nós (unaccompanied vocals) are at a high register
Sea shanties were slow and rhythmic
England, Scotland, and Wales are a unitary state and are governed by the central government in London. The Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man are parliamentary democracies and the Channel Islands are self-governed by two bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
Politics of the British Isles
Shipbuilding, steel making, and coal mining industries all play large parts in the economies of Scotland and England. Wales and the Republic of Ireland both previously revolved around agriculture but technological industries have become dominant. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man centre around light industry (textiles, furniture, etc.)
Economy of the British Isles
English is an official language throughout the British Isles. Culture-wise, sports play a large part. In Wales, choral singing before a sporting event is a tradition, especially in rugby, and London hosted the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Ever since 1930, Scotland has appeared at every Commonwealth Games and Ireland has over 300 golf courses.
Social Facts of the British Isles
Ballads are usually narrative and in a minor key
Carols are very festive
Children's songs/lullabies frequently rhyme
Sea shanties are slow, rhythmic call and response songs sung by sailors. They are usally repetitive and in a major key.
Agricultural work songs are rhythmic a Capella songs, usually in a major key.
Sean nós (unaccompanied Irish singing) has many ornaments and a high register
Musical Characteristics
Highland bagpipes were used in war (ex. the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547) before being replaced by the trumpet. Piping families like the MacCrimmonds began to appear in the 16th century.
How Music was Used, its Purpose, and Who Played It
At feasts, a harp would be passed around for patrons to play and sing. Jigs were used as dancing entertainment and protest songs praised heroes such as Robin Hood and later protested war. After that, it became a propaganda tool (ex. The Black Leg Miner and The Factory Bell). Sea shanties and work songs were sung to reduce boredom.
How Music was Used, its Purpose, and Who Played It
Traditional music was used to dance and celebrate at weddings, saints' days, and other celebrations. Caoineadh songs were laments and Caioneadh singers were paid to mourn and sing at funerals.
How Music was Used, its Purpose, and Who Played It
Music was used for communication and celebration, like the traditional songs to celebrate the Hunting of the Wren and Spring Candlemas. 'Pancake songs' would be sung by children on Shrove Tuesday and folk music would be played at
(communal dances) and at the competitive performing arts festival,
How Music was Used, its Purpose, and Who Played It
Channel Islands:
Many songs were played during dancing games such as La Danse des Chapieaux and in the 19th century, dance music was played in tea-rooms and hotels.
How Music was Used, its Purpose, and Who Played It
(a small wire-strung harp), a cláirseach (a larger 30-string harp), fiddle, harp, accordion, flute.
Instruments Used
Instruments Used
Highland bagpipes, fiddle, harp
Harp, triple harp,
(bowed string instrument), fiddle, bagpipes,
Instruments Used
Instruments Used
Channel Islands:
Fiddle, accordion,
(wheel fiddle)
Isle of Man:
(blowing horn), harp, fiddle
Instruments Used
Form of Music
Many pieces of music of the British Isles are in song form (verse/chorus/bridge) and many pieces also use a large amount of repetition. Lullabies/children's songs frequently rhymed and in Welsh singing poetry, known as
, the accompanying harpist and the singer(s) would each follow their own melody. Sea shanties and work songs are frequently in a major key while laments are in a minor key.
What makes this music unique to the British Isles?
The frequent use of string instruments such as the fiddle and the harp give the music of the British Isles a very distinctive sound. Instruments that are unique to this nation or even one particular country, such as the
and the
, also make this music very different. Vocal wise, the songs of the British Isles frequently tell stories in song form and often repeat, such as in the sea shanties, the Drunken Sailor and Fifteen Men (Bottle of Rum).
Did you know that...
Van Morrison was influenced by music of Northern Ireland?
In 19th century Wales, popular ballad topics were emigration, disasters, and murder?
Feel free to skip the video clips after a few seconds of listening.
CIA. “The United Kingdom.”
The World Factbook.
December 15, 2013. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/uk.html>.
CIA. “Ireland.”
The World Factbook.
December 15, 2013. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ei.html>.
CIA. “Isle of Man.”
The World Factbook.
December 15, 2013. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/im.html>.
CIA. “Guernsey.”
The World Factbook.
December 15, 2013. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gk.html>.
CIA. “Jersey.”
The World Factbook.
December 15, 2013. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/je.html>.
Putumayo. “Celtic Dreamland.”
. December 15, 2013. <http://www.putumayo.com/content/celtic_dreamland_0>.
Lesley Nelson Burns. “Folk Music of England, Scotland, Ireland, and America: Songs of England.”
December 15, 2013. <http://www.contemplator.com/england/>.
“The Folk Music of England: Roots and Revival.”
World Music Network.
December 15, 2013. <http://www.worldmusic.net/guide/music-of-england-changing-folk-roots/>.
“The Music of Ireland.”
World Music Network.
December 15, 2013. <http://www.worldmusic.net/guide/music-of-ireland/>.
“English Folk and Traditional Music on the Internet.”
English Folk Info.
December 15, 2013. <http://www.englishfolkinfo.org.uk/folkmus.html>.

Whiskey Before Breakfast by Stephen Seifert
Traditional Music on a dulcimer
Lament for Ruari's Sister by Ruaidrhi Dáll Ó Catháin
Lament on a cláirseach
Scotland the Brave by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
Ceòl Mór (great music) of the bagpipes using Highland Bagpipes
Belles Amour Breakdown (Jig)
by Fogo Island Accordion Group
Lur Calls by Knud Albert Jepsen
Battle tune
Máire Ní Eidhin (Sean Nós Singing) by Naisrín Elsafty
Men of Harlech by the Fron Male Voice Choir
Military march about the siege of Harlech Castle during 1461-1468
Drunken Sailor by the Irish Rovers
Sea Shanty
Cerdd Dant by Cor Merched Canna Caerdydd
Penillion Singing
Fifteen Men (Bottle of Rum) by the Roger Wagner Chorale
Sea Shanty
Thanks for watching!
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