Irish Folk Music

Irish Folk music, despite pressures from immigration and globalization, has managed to stay relatively traditional over the past few hundred years. It has influenced many different forms of music, including pop and rock and roll. Irish Folk music, also known as Celtic, has drawn many people to it by offering them the chance to get back to their roots and their origins. The main instrument used in Irish Folk songs is the fiddle, or violin. There are many phenomenal fiddlers in Ireland and thanks to the popularity of the genre, in the United States as well.

The flute has also been a vital instrument in Irish Folk music since the middle of the 19th century.  A simple, wooden flute is the most commonly used, with musicians believing that a simple flute is best for simple, traditional music. The most modern flutes are made with PVC as they travel better, are less expensive and less affected by humidity. Metal whistles are also popular, being made with a large variety of metals such as tin, aluminum and brass.

Schoolchildren in Ireland are taught to use the metal whistle from a very young age.
Another popular instrument in Irish Folk music has been the Uilleann Pipes. Extremely complex, they are said to take 7 years to learn, 7 years to practice and 7 years to play before one has truly mastered them. The modern version had taken its form by 1890, but the tradition nearly died until a few very famous Irish Folk musicians such as Patty Moloney rejuvenated their popularity in the music. The harp is another famous Irish instrument used in Irish Folk music, and has been used as early as the 10th century. Many modern harpists were inspired by Italian composers such as Vivaldi but by the early 19th century the tradition had died out.  It was revived in the 20th century however, though by using the pads of the fingers rather than long fingernails to play. The past 30 years especially has seen the revival of the harp and its popularity and more and more harps are being designed to look like the harps of old. They are now using brass, silver and even gold to make some of the more elaborate harps based on those used by the Irish nobility hundreds of years ago.

The new popularity of Irish Folk music can be attributed to the Nationalist calls for Irish independence in the late 19th century. The Irish traditionally play their folk songs in pubs, although the tradition began in England and was popular in the United States before being brought to Ireland. Over the 60s and 70s Irish Folk music became more and more popular, and today it has been combined with modern pop and rock songs. Despite all of the change in the world, Irish Folk music is a tradition thousands of years old which is still appreciated and enjoyed today by people all over the world.