Enjoying Holiday Music

Every year, I look forward to the Christmas holiday season. I love decorating a large, beautiful tree, baking delicious, seasonal desserts, going to holiday parties, and spending time with my parents at their farm. Because I’m a singer and a musician, I also like to listen to Christmas music. Sometimes, I listen to holiday tunes for several hours at the time. Whether I’m cleaning my home, driving down the road, or cooking dinner, my mood instantly improves after listening to some of my favorite holiday songs. On this blog, I hope you will gain an appreciation for holiday music. Enjoy!

Understanding Traditional Irish Folk Music (And How To Dance To It!)


There's no doubt that Ireland has a great history of folk music and it's a tradition that has excited and thrilled you for years. And now you're ready to get into it in a major way. But what are the roots of this amazing music? What are the best modern recordings of it? And what's the best way to enjoy it? Read on to find out the answers to all these questions (hint: the answer to the last one is by dancing, of course!).

The History Of Traditional Irish Music

Ireland has been a great source of beautiful music ever since the ancient days of the Celts over 2,000 years ago. The immigrating Celts brought an Eastern sensibility to Ireland, which is why so much of Irish music has a droning, yet hypnotic quality (think the harmonic drone of the bagpipe).

However, advances like the Irish harp helped ancient songwriters and performers create a whole world of music, much of which is still played and loved in Ireland. You have the always popular folk ballad, which tells epic and tragic tales. And there's the jig, which is a high-energy dance that was always popular in celebrations. The depth of Irish music is simply too deep to fully comprehend and has inspired modern Irish artists as diverse as U2 and Sinead O'Connor.

Modern Sources Of Traditional Irish Music

Traditional Irish music didn't die with the original balladeers: it has been passed on orally until the rise of modern recording, which has allowed a wide range of modern performers to recreate this exciting music. Some of the most popular of these artists include:

  • The Chieftains
  • Solas
  • Planxty
  • Lunasa
  • Clannad

The previously mentioned Sting and Sinead O'Conner have Irish folk albums of their own, though Sting's is filled with his own compositions, rather than interpretations of traditional songs.

Choosing An Irish Dance

Now that you know more about Irish music, you can choose a dance style. Ireland is rich in dance history and features a wide range of traditional dance styles as well as modern variations. A few of the most popular include:

  • Set dancing – This dance is something like a square dance and includes four couples crossing and exchanging positions. Normally, this is a "flat foot" dance, but it should be attacked with enthusiasm.
  • Ceili dancing – A couple dance that requires lots of motion, extended limbs, and pointed toys going up in the air. Form is entirely up to the dancer, which makes this style incredibly fun.
  • Stepdance – Very similar to Riverdance, this traditional Irish dance requires stiff upper bodies and a variety of complex leg movements, including hops and kicks. Another form that allows imaginative variations by the performer.
  • Stepdance is an Irish dance for individuals or groups. Although it is sometimes danced in couples, this is not a requirement. In stepdance, the dancers keep rigid upper bodies. This specifically contrasts with their feet and legs that move through a succession of very fast hops, high kicks and complex footwork.
  • Riverdance – This incredibly popular dance is not a traditional Irish dance, but fits in well with traditional Irish music. It features a stiff back, lifted knees, and high energy with performers dancing without a partner.

This primer should give you a great start in appreciating and dancing to famous Irish folk songs. However, you should by no means stop here! There's a whole world for you to immerse yourself in and it's just waiting for you to join!


18 January 2016