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Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains, one of the best-known Celtic musical groups

Watch part one of WorldBeat's "A Celtic Journey"
Windows Media: 28k or 56k
Real: 28k or 56k


Sinead O'Connor and the Chieftains: "The Foggy Dew"

[150k MPEG-3] or [205k WAV]
(Courtesy RCA/Victor)

Loreena McKennitt: "The Mummer's Dance"

[125k MPEG-3] or [175k WAV]
(Courtesy Flying Fish)

Musicians broaden definition of 'Celtic'

Web posted on:
Wednesday, January 13, 1999 11:21:47 AM EST

(CNN) -- What do people mean when they say music is Celtic? It's a question with as many answers as there are bars.

"They're songs which are frequently more melancholy, where people listen to the words and perhaps it makes them dream of home," maintains John Falstaff, a Celtic radio host. "Then there's the fast jigs and reel stuff, which makes people want to get up and dance."

Other Celtic musicians agree that their tunes might make you want to tap your foot -- that the music can be played in the back of a bus or the back of a pub. Whatever it is, by definition it must be "the traditional music of Celtic peoples" from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Phoenecia, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man, experts say.

But is it? Younger musicians in Ireland rediscovered their country's rich musical roots during the folk revival period of the late 1960s and early '70s, musician Seamus Egan says. Exemplified by the Chieftains, this younger group gave the music of their homeland a new life.

Meanwhile, musicians in other traditions, from the Caribbean to Africa, have found they can connect to the Celtic sound in their own work. Says musician Eileen Evers, "You drive around and you hear Caribbean music on one block, you hear hip-hop on the next, and you hear elements (and think), 'That would be cool for a groove of a tune.' Hip-hop, all the African-Jamaican influences, it's all from the same place."

Artists including the Afro-Celt Sound System and Senegal's Baba Maal agree. In the first part of World Beat's hour-long look at the Celtic music phenomenon, they explain why.

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  • Ceolas - the home of celtic music on the Internet

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