Sean Nos And Vocal Music

O Riada Largely due to Sean Ó'Raida's heroic efforts, vocal music in Irish Gaelic is now in the mainstream. However, singers also perform in English, as many beloved Irish songs dealing with love, emigration or sedition were so written. Some of these were adapted by the Irish, and others were composed by Irish songwriters.

Of the older generation of singers, any chance to hear Packie Byrne, Sarah Makem (Tommy Makem's mother), or Margaret Barry is a treat, and Paddy Tunney's "The Stone Fiddle" (Green Linnet) should not be missed. Among younger vocalists, Tommy Sands, a Northern singer-songwriter from a famous musical family, has cut a very special series of records for Green Linnet. Former Planxty member Andy Irvine stands out as one of the best Irish singers, in any style. His album with the talented singer/guitarist Paul Brady, "Andy Irvine/Paul Brady" (Green Linnet), is a high point of modern Irish music. Triona Ní Domhnaill's exquisite soprano has added luster to many important outfits, including The Bothy band. Her only solo record, "Triona" (Green Linnet), is a treasure. Niamh Parsons is a brilliant new voice, as "Blackbirds And Thrushes " (Green Linnet) amply attests.

Among Gaelic styles, the a cappella Sean-Nós (Old Style) tradition is especially revered. It is sung by men and women and the interpreter must either embellish the melody or know when to leave well enough alone. Aspects of Sean Nós are heard in accompanied vocal music and many female adherents had New Age possibilities long before the market existed. The dean of Sean-Nós singers is the legendary Joe Heaney - his "Best Of" (Shanachie) is astonishing for the perfection of his voice and phrasing. Dolores Keane, Cathie Ryan, Maighread Ni Dhomnaill (sister of Triona and producer-guitarist Michael), Mary Black, Darach Ó Catháin, and Liam Ó Maonlai (of the pop group Hothouse Flowers) are also noted practitioners of this subtle vocal style. - Christina Roden

An interview with sean nos singer Iarla � Lion�ird

More Celtic Music 101

Search for More Recordings

© 2000 RootsWorld
No portion of this work can be copied or transmitted without express permission.