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Celtic music

From Academic Kids

Celtic music is a broad grouping of musical genres that evolved out of the folk musical traditions of the Celtic peoples of Western Europe. The term Celtic music may refer to both orally-transmitted traditional music and recorded popular music with only a superficial resemblance to folk styles of the Celtic peoples.

In Celtic music: A Complete Guide, June Skinner Sawyers acknowledges six Celtic nationalities divided into two groups. The Q Celtic nationalities are Irish and Scottish, Manx, while the P Celtic groups are the Cornish, Bretons and Welsh (Sawyer also mentions the Galicians in this grouping. In addition to these areas, Celtic traditional music has left behind influences on Portuguese music and other countries, especially Irish-American and Irish- and Scottish-Canadian music.

Celtic music
Brittany
Celtic Canada
Cornwall
Ireland
Man
Scotland
Northern Spain
Celtic America
Wales

At issue is the lack of many common threads uniting the "Celtic" peoples listed above. While the ancient Celts undoubtedly had their own musical styles, these have grown and evolved to the point where considering any modern styles reminiscent of ancient Celtic music is misleading. There is also tremendous variation between "Celtic" regions. Ireland and Scotland, for example, have living traditions of language and music, whereas Cornwall and the Isle of Man, in contrast, have only revivalist movements that have yet to take hold. Galicia has had little or no Celtic musical influence for several centuries, but is still grouped with the others. Thus, traditionalists, and most musicological scholars dispute that the "Celtic" lands have any folk connections to each other.

On the other hand, it is indisputable that related musical styles have been recorded and performed by and for persons living in all the "Celtic" lands, and thus there is such a thing a musical tradition uniting these areas -- it is simply a form of popular music instead of folk music; whether or not this distinction is important is a matter of taste. Many critics of the idea of modern Celtic music claim that the idea is the creation of modern marketing designed to stimulate regional identity in the creation of a consumer niche; June Skinner Sawyers, for example, notes in her work Celtic Music: A Complete Guide, that "Celtic music is a marketing term that I am using, for the purposes of this book, as a matter of convenience, knowing full well the cultural baggage that comes with it".

Common characteristic Celtic musical forms include jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas, strathspeys (Scotland) and slow airs. Much of the music is typified by strong, repeating melodies in a set rhythm, which reflects a background as dance music. Ballads are also common. Largely through the immigration of the Scotch-Irish, Celtic music was the foundation for Appalachian folk music in the United States.

The Celtic music scene involves a large number of music festivals. Some of the most prominent include Celtic Colours (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia), Celtic Connections (Glasgow) and Festival Interceltique (Lorient, Brittany).

The Breton musician Alan Stivell claimed (translation by Steve Winick (http://pobox.upenn.edu/~teachnet/Bretonjaf/bretonjaf1.html))

As on the linguistic plane, there are two branches, the Gaelic branch and the Brythonic branch, which differentiate themselves mostly by the extended range (sometimes more than two octaves) of Irish and Scottish melodies and the closed range of Breton and Welsh melodies (often reduced to a half-octave), and by the frequent use of the pure pentatonic scale in Gaelic music.

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