Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Keeping Traditional Music alive

Traditional Irish Music is known the world over, played with just one instrument or with a variety, it conjures up images of fast pace dancing, jumping and swinging or indeed slow mournful times.
Trad music is distinct, you will recognise it's air, reels, jigs anywhere, tourist flock to Templebar and the West of Ireland to sit and listen, learn the dance and even a few bars of a song or lament. Although every county has their own unique music and sounds, none are as famous or varied as our Traditional Irish Music.


I was talking to International Trad band Dervish recently, together for years they have built up a reputation across Ireland which has made them massive all over the world.
I asked them about the future of traditional music, is it dying out?
“The future of traditional music is in very safe hand” they reassured me as they explained about the enormous talent of the Irish youth population and the enthusiasm them have for the music.
But I am still dubious about it's future though.
Of course children play, sing and dance, they excel at it – Traditional Music Summer Schools all over the county are evident of this.
But as children grow older, reach teenage years and move into young adulthood – will their enthusiasm for the music fade?
Tin Whistle and music book
I played a tin whistle as a child, I also played the key board, did Irish dancing, played football, camoige, karate, etc... I grew out of all these things, it didn't matter that “I had a natural air” or that “I had inherited the beat” after a while I outgrew it.
Now I quite like traditional music, I can hear my Irish heritage and culture in the notes, especially the fast paced pieces, I also enjoy the songs, linger on their lyrics, but this is not the norm. The idea of listening to trad music for ten minutes amongst my friends would leave me standing alone after being fired looks like daggers.
Irish people in their 20s and 30s don't have time for slow laments, or indeed the energy for fast jigs.
Of course there are many in this age bracket who play an instrument are part of a trad band, dance or sing – but the majority who don't take part in the trad scene, getting them interested to listening to it is very difficult.
The young and old are keeping Trad alive in Ireland, but abroad it is a very different scene. Young people with any connection to Ireland (or even an Irish bar) flock to hear the music, learn a few steps and even a song.

Trad music session

Maybe this could be the one positive out of our mass emigration, maybe away from home, our fine young adults will have a renewed interest in their native music. Maybe the lively airs and sad notes of the music will remind them of the hills and valleys, the deep rivers and lakes and the heritage.
But then the question is can we keep Trad alive until they return home?

1 comment:

  1. Just receive this email response from Rory McGloin:
    Very interesting question you'e addressed here, it's actually one I've been thinking about myself for a while now.
    Every time I go home, I see my Irish peers run from Irish music, while every Irish American or Irish immigrant I know overseas, loves to hear the music and be a part of a trad. session.
    I guess the question that I've been interested in, is why the "young" native Irish people are in some way ashamed to listen to or be associated with their music. Like you said, if you and I were to turn on some Wolfe Tones for a sing along, our peers would probably laugh at us.
    Yet, my non-Irish friends in the states love listening the music, which suggests is DOES have great value for its music quality beyond the nostalgia.
    As someone who can't really contribute to the music world given my lack of instrumental ability, I plan on continuing the traditions of playing and signing along with the trad music just like our parents did - and maybe, just maybe, this is how it will continue.