The adjective “Celtic” is regularly used to describe music, in Scotland and elsewhere, as well as languages and other cultural practices. In the collective imagination, it suffices to designate both the age of a cultural practice, and a certain bond of kinship between practices.
That one would find in Scotland and other regions, islands or peninsulas of North-West Europe. But what exactly does “Celtic” mean from a historical point of view? As we will see, when the term applies to Antiquity, it in fact aims at a very elusive reality as the definitions that are given vary. If ancient history teaches us above all that notions like “Celts” and “Celtic” do not mean much, it is therefore differently that we will have to explain their use and their success: it is essentially starting from the emergence of nationalisms, in the XIXth century (even a little before) that the use of these notions developed in order to consolidate a new feeling of belonging. Be it the kilt ghillie shoes or anything else, the options are there no doubt.
What does “Celts” mean?
When we speak today of the “Celts”, especially in Scotland, the meaning of the term seems obvious, so much so that we rarely take the trouble to define it. However, as soon as we look at the characterizations given by the different disciplines, or the uses of the term in Antiquity, we observe a great variation, so much so that there is something to lose. We will be able to see then that it is precisely such imprecision which also allows the term to be mobilized from very varied causes, although distant from each other.
Celtic music is a concept born during the XIXth and XXth centuries, which comes from different territories of Western Europe, regarded as “Celtic” (see map). It brings together extremely diverse traditions, both in terms of form, the type of instruments used, how to combine them to play different kinds. With the best uke amplifier on sale you can find the best details.
Breton music comes in several types:
- festive music (accompaniment to the dances),
- descriptive or circumstantial music (melodies, gwerzioù, marches and songs of sailors)
- religious music ( kantikoubrezhoneg )
The instruments used:
- The celtic harp
- The Accordion
- The clarinet
- The violin
- Wooden flute
Many other instruments have been and are still used:veuze, hurdy-gurdy, saxophone, Irish flute (Tin Whistle), bouzouki, dulcimer, various percussions. More recently appeared the guitar, whose vocation was first of all to ” accompany the songs then used to rhythm the dances.
Irish music mainly originates from the 18th and 19th centuries in the form currently known, traditional music is subdivided into vocal music on the one hand and instrumental music on the other hand. But it is the voice that forms the basis, due to a predominant characteristic of this essentially melodic music: ornaments. We distinguish
- the sean-nós song (literally “old style”), a Gaelic a cappella song, difficult to access at first sight, from the Middle Ages, one of the forms of traditional Irish song;
- dance music, purely instrumental which for several decades has also been played in pubs;
- melodic music, with ballads, slow airs (slow and calm instrumental melody) and laments (melodies telling a sad story, close to the Breton gwerzioù );
- the ballads, militant songs composed to magnify the spirit and the nationalist action, in particular from the XIXth century, from which the “protest songs” of Northern Ireland in the XXth century came.