Traditional Celtic musicians often play together in informal pub gatherings called seisiuns (pronounced ‘sessions’). If you have been to one of these musical events, you probably feel that the violin and guitar are the most common instruments behind the driving wheels and bounces. If your taste extends more towards the ethereal, you have probably heard Celtic music with angels and whistles. These are just some of the many instruments used in Celtic music.
Flutes, whistles and low whistles
Flutes, whistles and low whistles are played in the same way in Celtic music. The main difference is that the flutes are side-blown, usually made of wood and can have wrenches, while whistles are blown forward, usually made of metal and keyless. Most flutes and whistles are in key D, with flutes and low whistles generally beginning at D directly above the middle C. Most other whistles begin one octave higher. The silver flutes often seen in classical music differ from Irish flutes in that they are made of metal and have many keys, while Irish flutes generally have eight keys and usually fewer or none.
Fiddles — which differ from violins only in playing style — are very common in Celtic music. Tuned to G, D, A and E, the same as classical violins, they offer a wide range of notes and let their players include ornaments, such as scrolls and slurs, which are common in Celtic traditional music.
While not traditionally Celtic in the strictest sense of the word, guitars have found a home in today’s Celtic sessions and bands. In Celtic music, guitars can be tuned to D, A, D, G, A, D or the more famous E, A, D, G, B, E. Depending on the guitar’s taste, style and knowledge of a particular melody, she can play chords such as backup, melody of melody or a combination of both.
The forerunners of Celtic music, bodhrans are traditional handheld drums that are generally several inches deep and a foot or more across. The player holds a stick with wider, rounded ends in one hand while holding the other hand against the drum. He then beats the drum with the stick in fast, intricate, vertical movements. the position of the booklet and press in the drum to change the tone and pitch of the tone.
Harps has a long place in Celtic music history. Today, Celtic harps are significantly smaller than the large harps seen in orchestras and usually have less than 50 strings with tuning handles either on each string or on C and G strings. While not often used in seasons due to their generally quiet nature, harps are usually included in many commercial recordings of Celtic music.
Scottish bagpipes or Highland pipes have quieter, softer Irish cousins known as uillean pipes. The name ‘uillean’, prounounced ‘ILL-in’ or ‘ULL-in’ means ‘elbow’ and refers to the fact that these tubes are played using the elbow of the pipe. Like harps — but for the opposite, – These well-known instruments are usually played solo than in sessions.
Many other instruments are regularly used in Celtic music. These range from the domestic Australian didgeridoo to the Greek bouzouki as well as the accordion, accordions, spoons, legs and many other instruments.