There isn’t a lot of evidence of music in the archaeological record, but there is some. The bards of the ancient Irish and Welsh referred to by the Romans and Greeks mostly performed “praise poetry," elaborate formalized praise of their patrons’ deeds. There is some fairly solid evidence, some of it archaeological, that the bards accompanied their poetry with something like a lyre or harp. The early Celts also used carefully constructed war trumpets called carnyx; we have some of them still. Later, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the border ballads, many of them collected by Francis James Child (hence their name as the Child Ballads) were closely associated with Scotland, and to a lesser extent, Ireland. These are part of what is today often described as Traditional Celtic music from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the islands, and yes, England too. (There is also some similar music, using harps, pipes, bag pipes, from other lands settled by Celtic speakers, including Breton and Galacia). These are posts dealing with music, though admittedly not all of it is ancient, medieval, or even Celtic.

  • Calendar,  Music

    The Wexford Carol / Carúl Loch Garman

    Carúl Loch Garman O tagaigí is adhraigí An leanbh cneasta sa chró ‘na luí Is cuimhnigí ar ghrá an Rí A thug dar saoradh anocht an naí A Mhuire Mháthair i bParas Dé Ar chlann bhocht Eabha Guí anois go séimh Is doras an chró ná dún go deo G n-adhraím feasta Mac Rí na hÓighe I mBeithil thoir i lár na hoíche Ba chlos an dea-scéal d’aoirí Go follas don tsaol san spéir go binn Bhí aingil ag canadh ó rinn go rinn Gluaisigí go beo, duirt aingil Dé Go Beithil sall is gheobhaith sibh é ‘Na luí go ciúin i mainséar tuí Siúd é an Prionsa, Mac Óg…

  • Music

    Gift Music Meme

    This is the first meme I’ve created; I’d been thinking about it for a while, and with help and collusion from my friend MacAllister Stone, I think I’ve figured out how it might work. Won’t you play too? The purpose of this meme is to gift a friend with a single song you’ve chosen from the iTunes store, and to have the friend blog about the song, and, if they like tag one or more of their friends. You have to have Apple’s free iTunes software for Mac or Windows to use the iTunes store. Pick one or more of your friends who listens to digital music; preferably someone who…

  • Music

    It’s not Medieval, but It is Irish: On Irish Traditonal Music

    For the last couple of days, I’ve been tormented by various people’s organizations’ ideas of what Irish music sounds like; mostly it’s been sort of like elevator music in dialect. If I’m lucky, it’s been Enya. Here are some alternatives. The Chieftains You can’t really talk about traditional Irish music without mentioning the Chieftains. They brought traditional musicians into the twentieth century, aiding in not just popularizing Irish music all over the world, to generations, but doing an enmourmousservice in preserving the tradition. The Best of the Chieftains is a compilation from three of the earlier, and best, of the Chieftains’ albums: The Chieftains 7, The Chieftains 8, and Boil…

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  • detail from the Gundestrup cauldron showing a carynx
    Celtic Art & Archaeology,  Music

    Gallic Carnyx Find

    Last week both and Celtica Studica linked to stories about an incredible find of five Celtic battle trumpets, or carnyxes (singular carnyx). The 470 objects and fragments of objects, (the find is stupendous in terms of the objects) were found at the end of September during a dig at Naves, in Correze in southern France, in a ditch hollowed out of a Gallic-Roman temple. Their find doubles the number carnyxes (or really, pieces of individual carnyxes) we have. Four of the carnyxes end in boar’s head bells, the fifth, a snake. You can read about the find yourself here; it’s a remarkable collection, which would be notable for the…

  • Music

    Cantigas de Santa Maria

    A few days ago Metafilter had an interesting link to this site about the Cantigas de Santa Maria. The Cantigas de Santa Maria represent one of the largest collections of solo songs from the middle ages. The manuscripts were written during the reign of King Alfonso X “El Sabio” (1221-1284), though probably not actually by him, all attributions aside. The Cantigas, 420 narrative and lyric poems in praise of the Virgin Mary, are preserved in four manscripts, all closely related, and include the music (with duration and timing information). The lyrics of the Cantigas are in Galician-Portuguese, the literary language of thirteenth century Castile. Two of the manuscripts are illuminated,…

  • Music

    Matty Groves Reggae Style

    Tuesdays are “new music” days at Apple’s iTunes Music store, so when I finished writing today, I took a look. There’s a lot of new stuff this week, and I do mean a lot. It looks like Apple’s managed to license pretty much the complete catalog of indie label Rounder Records. That’s pretty good news, from where I stand, since Rounder’s catalog includes lots of historic jazz, folk, and international traditional music, including the Alan Lomax Collection (available from Apple) and the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture, which includes people like Lead Belly and Jelly Roll Morton. Rounder owns and produces the Philo Records folkmusic label, so I…