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The dance music of Ireland has on paper much in common with that of the rest of the British Isles. Many of the tunes are the same as those from Scotland, England and Wales, though often they have acquired different names on their journey over the Irish Sea.
However, Irish dance music SOUNDS different. Usually smoother, but punctuated with sharply articulated ornaments and subtle improvisation, the music has an infectious swing and drive. I firmly believe that the basic rhythm and intonation of most native music is firmly founded on the living language of the people that play it. Listen to a group of Irish musicians chatting in between sets of tunes at a session, then listen to the music. The two things are not separate activities; one is a continuation of the other.
These tunes are personal favourites of mine and the musicians I play with regularly. Remember the written music is only your departure point, and that the real learning comes from listening to masters of the music like Tommy Peoples, Kevin Burke, Paddy Keenan, Mary Bergin, Sharon Shannon, Matt Malloy and a whole host of other wonderful musicians who play with that Irish accent.
Reviews of Traditional Dance Music of Ireland, GDGBD tab for 5 String Banjo Vol.1. 40 Jigs, Reels and more
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