You know, there's an awful lot to be said for this Irish traditional folk music and folklore, because first of all you have to learn it, and first you must learn the Talk, and then you must learn the Grip, and after that you must learn the Truckly-How, and then you have the whole lot, only just to keep on practising it.
-- Seamus Ennis, uillean piper
I have a recording of Seamus Ennis saying these words, and there's something about the very ambiguity of how to learn Irish trad that defines the very ambiguity of how appealing the music is to me. It just is; it is not something that can be found in the cuts or turns or the mysterious naming of Irish trad tunes, but something greater, "deep in the heart's core" (Yeats).
It's not an antique that's in a glass case in a museum that we go to look at. It's something which lives in the hands, and on the lips of the people who grow up amongst the tradition, who inherit it in some way.
-- Fiona Ritchie, host of NPR's Thistle & Shamrock
Some people say that the music that flies through pubs and dances and fingers across the globe isn't what they used to play, that it's not really "traditional" -- that it's not at all historically accurate. But I say that this is irrelevant, because this is what is alive today, this is what is being played and loved by thousands of musicians. Music is about life, and this music is life.
For while there is no ultimate correctness in traditional music, there is wrong: the attempts of such as Yehundi Menuhin or James Galway to play 'simple' Irish hornpipes, for example. -- Ciaran Carson, Last Night's Fun
I admit it without shame: I'm opinionated when it comes to Celtic music. It's not just an art form, but a way of life, a spirit. Every fiddler has his own style, every tin-whistler has his own distinctive sound. Just go take a look at a small sample of the bands and musicians out there, and, mind you, my opinionated descriptions. I myself am a converted classical violinist, so there's a heavy number of fiddlers in there.
Celtic music encompasses an incredibly wide span of styles and continents. The best introduction to Celtic music in general (and a tremendous amount of other, more in-depth information) can be found at Ceolas. It's not just the Irish that are Celts: Celtic music is played in Scotland, the Shetland Isles, Cape Breton (Nova Scotia), Galicia (Spain), and the United States. Each has its own distinctive qualities and feel.
And it's so much fun! There's nothing like the toe-tapping sound of a hot Celtic band to get you moving, or a heart-breaking ballad to sympathize with. You can join in on the fun almost every week with There Was A Lady, my radio show on Swarthmore College's own WSRN 91.5 fm.