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Author Topic: Does the term Celtic include English  (Read 19576 times)

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Offline Leon Grizzard

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Does the term Celtic include English
« on: Dec 26, 2003, 10:57:20 PM »
In the U.S., or at least around here in Austin, Texas, you don't see many references to English fiddle tunes.  I have somewhere read some historical explanation, which I don't  recall now.  My question, however is this:  is "Celtic" a useful term for lumping all the British Isles and related playing under for everyday use; that is, are there enough core similarities between the styles that the term is good enough for everyday use.  Is there a proper, useful,  generic term for British Isles playing?  

Offline giannaviolins

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #1 on: Dec 27, 2003, 01:50:23 PM »
Do we have a single term encompassing Cajun and Bluegrass?  British Isles encompass at least 4 rather different countries or country equivalents as far as I can tell: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England.  Different cultures, different music.

Offline Leon Grizzard

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #2 on: Dec 27, 2003, 03:16:43 PM »
Maybe the question I am grappling to formulate is more like:  Do you use the term Celtic, and if so, what do you mean by it?

Offline Pilgrum

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #3 on: Dec 27, 2003, 04:53:57 PM »
Celt, Kelt (selt, kelt) one of a race, including the Highlanders of Scotland, the Irish, Welsh, Bretons, Manx, and Cornish. Celtic, Keltic the language spoken by the Celts.

Based on the above, then I would say our use of the word  *Celtic music* would mean the music of the people that (then or now) speak/spoke Celt-Kelt.

To really hit the nail on the head, I would think the answer must come from one that in fact speaks Celtic.

Offline Rachel S

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #4 on: Dec 27, 2003, 07:25:13 PM »
Celt, Kelt (selt, kelt) one of a race, including the Highlanders of Scotland, the Irish, Welsh, Bretons, Manx, and Cornish. Celtic, Keltic the language spoken by the Celts.

Based on the above, then I would say our use of the word  *Celtic music* would mean the music of the people that (then or now) speak/spoke Celt-Kelt.

To really hit the nail on the head, I would think the answer must come from one that in fact speaks Celtic.

Well, to the best of my knowledge, there actually isn't one language called "Celt" spoken by all Celtic peoples.  There are 3 distinct dialects of Gaelic (Irish, Scots, and Breton), plus Welsh, plus Cornish, and I'm not even sure what the traditional language of the Manx is.

But its pretty clear that the English people are not Celts -- they're Anglo-Saxon (the Angles and the Saxons were Germanic tribes) with some Norman French (Vikings who settled in France prior to invading England with William the Conqueror in 1066).  So English fiddling would not be considered "Celtic".

Offline Pilgrum

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #5 on: Dec 27, 2003, 07:36:57 PM »
There are 3 distinct dialects of Gaelic (Irish, Scots, and Breton), plus Welsh, plus Cornish, and I'm not even sure what the traditional language of the Manx is.
Hopefully someone from Scotland or Ireland will come in on this thread.  Perhaps at one time there was a mother tongue, the root of all celtic languages, and it maybe that the mother tongue is now a dead language.
Be very nice to have somemore facts.

Offline Steve_W

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #6 on: Dec 28, 2003, 12:08:16 AM »
Is there a proper, useful,  generic term for British Isles playing?  

Yes, Leon:  "Music of the British Isles!"  Seriously.

The term "Celtic Music" at its broadest definition includes music of the 7 nations (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Cornwall, Brittany and Galicia), but not England. -Steve

Offline Leon Grizzard

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #7 on: Dec 28, 2003, 01:11:29 PM »
In the styles that Steve includes under Celtic, is there a lot of overlap in tunes, and do they all have a lot of aolian, dorian and mixolydian tunes like Irish?

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #8 on: Dec 29, 2003, 05:23:31 PM »
They do Leon.

By the way be sure that you add Cape Breton into the mix. I find that I don't care much for music from Brittany. Mainly, I don't get it. I like Irish music more than any other and that is where my main focus lies.

Why am I saying this? I guess I'm curious as to where you are going with these answers. Mind filling us in?

Offline Leon Grizzard

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #9 on: Dec 29, 2003, 07:01:40 PM »
Mark - Mainly to call people or their playing styles what they want to be called, which has not really been adressed in my questions, and also, when writing, to use terms that are usefully descriptive.  I know I can say Irish fiddling has a lot of dorian, and so it is arguably helpful to know the distiction between aeolian and dorian,  but I am curious to know if I can say Celtic styles have  a lot of dorian (for example).  

Offline Steve_W

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #10 on: Dec 29, 2003, 07:12:22 PM »
They do Leon.

By the way be sure that you add Cape Breton into the mix. I find that I don't care much for music from Brittany. Mainly, I don't get it. I like Irish music more than any other and that is where my main focus lies.

I'm never sure whether or not to include Cape Breton as a separate category, since they play Scottish & Irish tunes.  I tend to think of it as a different "dialect".  I've heard that the way the Cape Breton fiddlers play Scottish tunes is much closer to the way they were originally played than the modern Scottish style, but don't know what that's based on!  I love the style, though, and have been listening to a lot of CB CDs lately (am listening to one right now, for that matter).   Regarding Breton music, I tend to agree with you, Mark; I don't know the style well enough to appreciate it. -Steve

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #11 on: Dec 29, 2003, 10:43:22 PM »
Steve, Good points. You said a mouthful when you mentioned that there is a lot of cross over. Absolutely! So many of the tunes that are credited as Scottish are played by Irish purists and vice-versa. It's no surprise that the Cape Breton music has so much crossover with Scottish music. I firmly believe that the origins for Cape Breton Celtic Music are Scottish. Yet there has been plenty of time for those folk to regionalize the sound. Looking at it as a dialect of Scottish is fairly accurate except for all of the original music that comes from there. I wonder if it can be so neatly categorized. It seems as though that many of the best Cape Breton fiddlers legitimize your statement. Yet, I would be missing quite a few cool tunes if I hadn't taken a few peeks in that direction.

Leon, I have to retract a statment I made earlier. I know that I see quite a bit of use of the dorian and aeolian modes in Irish Music and I believe that it is fairly prominent in Scottish music. I just need to express that I wouldn't take my beliefs as fact.

I don't know enough Welsh or Brittany music to make a claim about the music, in fact, I rather steer away from those genres. I don't find anything in them that attracts me to them over what Irish and some Scottish does.

Sorry for the haze. A few recommendations for your research might be to look through websites that specialize in the diffferent genres. For instance www.thesession.org is a great site to get informed on the Irish branch of the music. They love to answer questions as well. I am also under the belief that there are corresponding sites for Brittany, Welsh, Scottish and Cape Breton styles.

Best of luck in your quest.

Offline Leon Grizzard

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #12 on: Dec 30, 2003, 12:16:36 AM »
Mark - Thanks for your thoughts.  I guess I would have thought that most players would identify themselves with a narrower style such as Irish or Scottish - I just see the term Celtic more and more it seems; I wonder if that is more a marketing term than a players term.

Offline Martin

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #13 on: Dec 30, 2003, 02:23:00 PM »
English folk music is definitely not Celtic, and as Leon says the term Celtic used in relation to music has become a bit of an "Enyaism". People in the UK play Scottish, Irish, or English style (maybe Manx and Welsh and Cornish too), but definitely not Celtic.

As to how one could define Scottish, Irish or English style, I'm still working on it. I've now played and learnt a good few English tunes and Irish tunes, and over the next three months Scottish tunes come into the mix, but I still can't put my finger on the styles. After all, Irish style can be further subdivided regionally into Donegal, Sligo, Clare and  Kerry styles, amongst others. There are tunes that are played in all three countries, and maybe when I can get my teacher to play the same tune in three different styles, I might get a better handle on these things.

In the meantime I'm happy to play in my style.

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #14 on: Dec 30, 2003, 03:56:17 PM »
Ahh Leon, Some care very much if you group them into Celtic. I've seen heads explode over the issue. (What a mess.) They consider the generalization to be offensive because they are proud of the genre they selected. I have quite possibly led you astray. You are right to want to identify these folk correctly. I would advise however that you don't worry too much about it. If you are in doubt as to what genre it is, ask them. Me, I don't care if they call me a celtic musician. Most people in the states have very little or no awareness between Scottish and Irish. At least they are figuring out that a Celtic Genre exists.

I'd say learn the differences as you go. You have already picked up a double handful of distinctions. Keep going. There are lots of folk here who know quite a bit and your friends (or soon to be friends) at the Irish sessions will know more.

I don't believe that the modes are great distinctions between the sub genres. I'd take a close look at bowing and rythmic differences first. You'll find rather quickly that even Irish has a few major style differences within it. Interesting Ehh.

By the way, What tunes are you working on?
« Last Edit: Jan 27, 2004, 09:11:48 PM by Mark Cordova »

Offline Leon Grizzard

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #15 on: Dec 30, 2003, 05:00:22 PM »
Mark - I play Texas style old time (I could just say old time, but tend to add the subgenre Texas).  I sometimes play around with Lord Gordon's Reel, and have played Swallow Tail and a few other Irish tunes.

My interest is scales and theory (I have written a book on those topics applied to fiddle, published by Mel Bay, cited on the links page), and have a general, fairly idle curiosity about fiddling styles.  My question is more from the curiosity side.

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #16 on: Dec 30, 2003, 05:14:55 PM »
There I go making assumptions again. How embarrasing! Very good to know that you are a great resource yourself and most likely could teach me more than I could teach you. My guess is that Lord Gordon's is Scottish. I'll have to go take a peek at it because I don't remember now. It didn't make my favorites list because it was too difficult for me when I was learning Irish music. It fell through the cracks.

Offline Leon Grizzard

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #17 on: Dec 30, 2003, 07:04:22 PM »
I would be more the poster child for those who can't - teach.  (I know how to play the fiddle, I just can't).  I thought Lord Gordon's was Irish - it is so labeled in the Fiddler's Fake Book.  I first heard it by Kevin Burke on the compilation Playing with Fire - the Celtic (there we go again) Fiddle Collection.  I also have a version by Michael Coleman.  It is in O'Neils also, I do believe.

Offline Steve_W

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #18 on: Dec 31, 2003, 04:23:58 AM »
Andrew Kunz's Fiddler's Companion (http://www.ceolas.org/tunes/fc/ - a great resource!) identifies Lord Gordon's Reel as Scottish and indicates it may have been composed by William Marshall (my hero!) although I can't find it in his collected works.  At any rate, it's one of those tunes that has crossed over; I think it's way more popular in the Irish than in the Scottish tradition now.  I guess this just shows out how hard it can be to tell where a tune originated.  -Steve

Offline dogmageek

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #19 on: Dec 31, 2003, 04:31:56 AM »
No, that would be "Celtoid"

-dogma

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #20 on: Dec 31, 2003, 04:07:36 PM »
Yep Steve, there is no question that it is widely accepted in the Irish tradition but the the lines and dots when played without a particular style to them do not sound Irish. Thanks for the research.

Dogma, CELTOID?   :smile2: :smile2:

Offline Floyd

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #21 on: Dec 31, 2003, 05:30:38 PM »
I live in Prince Edward Island about 20 miles of water seperate my island from Cape Breton Island. The style of fiddling that I like the best is Cape Breton fiddling - around here we call Cape Breton music celtic. I never refer to Irish music as celtic - I call it Irish. The 2 styles make up about 90 percent of what is played around here and to me there is a thousand miles between the two. I think that if you take the full set of Irish tunes and Scotish (What I call celtic)  tunes and compare them you won't really find much difference in the basic melodies and modes but what distigushes the styles is the type of embelishments that the players put in them. I find that the Irish players emblish with melody and scotish fiddlers embelish with rythm - if that makes any sense. The Strathspey is for sure scottish - It is a type of reel with complicated rythm. I think of the Irish style as being left handed and the scotish style as being right handed. Tunes that originated in Ireland can be made sound Scotish and vise versa. I use the terms to describe a style of playing and not the geographical origins of a tune. I may be wrong for me to use the term celtic to describe only Cape Breton and Scotish music but that's what we do around here. Irish style is just so different that it needs to have its own category. English music is not included in celtic for sure.

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #22 on: Dec 31, 2003, 07:02:41 PM »
All too true Floyd. That's an interesting distinction between Irish and Celtic. I never would have thought it. It's funny that everytime we try to place a thumbtack on a statement, it comes out wrong. For instance, Within the Irish styles, Donegal fiddling resembles Scottish the most. (In my opinion.) That music is full of strathspeys, Scottish ornamentations and bowings.

Since I'm already splitting a few hairs, what about Prince Edward Island itself? Would you say that the original music from PEI should be grouped into the Cape Breton or Scottish styles? Do you think you can say that Prince Edward Isle music is distinct from the rest. I would say that it is highly likely. I would also say that the mix of Scottish and Cape Breton along with enough isolation has created a distinct sound. What is your take?

Offline Floyd

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #23 on: Dec 31, 2003, 08:18:18 PM »
PEI is a small Island - 120 miles long and varies in width from 4 miles to 40 miles so you would think that the fiddle music might be same all over the Island. But the fiddle music at the eastern end of the island is pretty much the same as Cape Breton today. I believe it is because of the radio signals coming across the water about 50 years ago.  The Western end of the island is completly different.  That end of the island is French Acadian and the style is a bit of a mixture of French, Irish and Scottish. - A very nice and distinct sound. I don't know enough about the history of the music at that end of the Island to say much more about. I live in the center of the Island and I go in both directions to play but I go east much more often.

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re:Does the term Celtic include English
« Reply #24 on: Dec 31, 2003, 09:33:12 PM »
Oh Pilgrim, It seems that I didn't read your post. I believe that the common language of the Celts (Kelts) is Gaelic. It's used to this very day but the folk tend to learn English as well as Gaelic. Almost all of my favorite Irish singing groups include a Gaelic song or two on their CD's. Dangnabit!!!! Even if I attempted to make those sounds, I would have a clue as to what I was saying. We have a local group who does a great job on the the old Gaelic songs. They have learned tons from taking on this expedition.

I tend to go find something else to listen to when they play at a festival. One day, I had a choice between listening to them, a Celtic Harpist or standing in a long line to get a beer. I bought two beers for good measure. ;) (Be a caveman!)

 




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