by Jason Nugent
The beauty and artistry of Celtic music is something to be enjoyed. The pipes, fiddle, guitar, drums, harp, and whistles of traditional Celtic music evokes mystical lands and a rich history. It can tell tales of mythic figures or lost loves. It uplifts and soothes. It recites history or shares hopes and dreams. Celtic music has enjoyed a long history connecting the land with the listener.
Celtic music traces its roots to folk music of the Celtic lands of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany as well as other less prominent Celtic regions of western Europe. The Celts were a people that migrated across Europe from the east a few thousand years ago. As more powerful nations rose with strong central governments, the Celtic people were pushed to the fringes of Europe primarily settling in modern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. It is in those areas that we trace current Celtic music though it is extremely popular in North America.
Celtic music has gained serious traction in the United States. There is a weekly syndicated radio show called “Celtic Connections” from my alma mater, Southern Illinois University, that is broadcast on National Public Radio. There are popular podcasts that cater to the Celtic fan such as the “Irish and Celtic Music Podcast” from host Marc Gunn. Every town seems to have it’s own resident Celtic musicians. There are popular acts too that create their distinctive brand of Celtic music such as Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys.
Certain instruments associated with Celtic music like the harp or bagpipes create moods and sounds that are distinctive to the genre. It’s difficult to hear a bagpipe and not think of Scotland. A harp and tin whistle conjur images of Ireland. The music is deeply rooted in the people and lands of ancient Celtic ancestry. It’s an expression of a people with a shared history going beyond national boundaries.