Irish Music Terms
Here's a list of terms commingly used to describe the instruments, song forms and styles used in traditional Irish and other forms of Celtic music. In the case of old Gaelic/Irish words, a prounciation key is included. (More on Irish musicians on our Irish Music page)
Bainseo p: BAN-sho
Bodhrán p: BOW-RON
A commonly used traditional Irish Drum
Bosca Ceoil p: BUS-ka CYOO-ial
Bothy Ballad: Songs about work, written by dwellers of "bothies," or farm cottages in Scotland.
Box: A type of accordian
Buíon Cheoil Phíob p: BWEE-yun HYO-il FEE-ib
Keen: A death song (crying at funerals is called "keening")
Céilí p: KAY-lee
Evening of Irish dancing
Ceol p: HYEEOHL
Ceoltóirí p: KYOHL-TOE-ree
Cláirseach p: CLAR-shuch
Comhaltas p: COLT-us
A gathering or group of musicians
Cranning: Groups of grace notes played in succession.
Cruit p: KRIT
Drumaí Ceilí p: DRUM-ee-KAY-lee
Drums of a Céilí band
Fidil p: FIHD-el
Fiddle or violin
Fleadh p: FLAH
Geantraí p: GYAN-tree
Traditional Irish dance tune
Goltraí p: GOHL-tree
Dirges or laments
Ground: A slow melody
Jig: Traditional tune played in 3/4 time.
Planxty: A song written for a patron or a praise song.
Píb Mhór p: PEEB-more
Píb Uilleann p: PEEB-illun
Uilleann pipes, a very traditional Irish music, a small type of bagpipe
Reel: A dance song played in 4/4 time.
Seisiún p: Ces-SHOON
A non-formal gathering of musicians to play; equivalent of a “jam session" in the U.S.
Sean Nos: p: SHAN-NOS
A traditional singing style, almost always in a capella, where the melody shifts among various keys. Translates literally as "old style."
Slip Jig: Folk song played in 9/8 time
Suantraí p: SOO-an-TREE
Uilleann p: ILL-un
"Elbow pipe", a small bagpipe where air is forced into the instrument by the movement of the player’s elbow.