The High Kings: Close Harmony

The High Kings is one of the Irish groups that comes across my Pandora station regularly. Their shtick is doing traditional Irish songs in close harmony, and I always notice close harmony because Jane loves it dearly. I linked to their version of "The Leaving of Liverpool" a while back; today I want to point out two quieter songs that I very much like.The first is "Will Ye Go Lassie Go", also known as "Wild Mountain Thyme"; this is a tune I'm learning to play on the whistle.The … [Read more...]

Animated Shorts of Irish Folk Songs

Joseph Susanka has the scoop on a series of animated shorts, made in Ireland, to illustrate Irish folk songs. Fun! … [Read more...]

App o’ the Morning: The Craic

The Irish Gaelic word "craic" is an odd bird. Pronounced "crack", it means "news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation", and apparently it's a culturally significant word in Ireland. I first ran across it in the Silly Wizard song "Take Her in Your Arms", which at one point describes the scene in a pub:There's a seisun in the corner, and the craic is grand tonight.That means that there are folks playing music in the corner (a "session"), and the conversation is … [Read more...]

Penny Whistles and Me (UPDATED)

I've been listening to a lot of Irish Traditional music recently, and a lot of Irish traditional songs are played on the penny whistle, also known as the tin whistle. (That wind instrument you hear on records by the Chieftains or the Dubliners? Probably a penny whistle.) The penny whistle, a cousin of the recorder and the flageolet, is one of the simplest wind instruments: a whistle, or fipple flute, with six finger holes, capable of playing two full octaves on a diatonic scale (i.e., without … [Read more...]

The Rocky Road to Dublin

I've been listening to a lot of Irish Traditional music recently, and one of my favorites is the "Rocky Road to Dublin". It's a 19th century music hall tune, per Wikipedia, and concerns the adventures of an Irishman who travels away from home to find work. He's heartbroken, and his belongings are stolen; eventually he takes ship to Liverpool (the captain makes him travel with the pigs), where he gets into a fight with the locals who make fun of him and of Ireland. It's a regular catalog of … [Read more...]