Woodkerne Celtic Band – The Pipe on the Hob
Song performed by Woodkerne Celtic Band. Used with permission.
The word ‘Celtic’ (read ´keltick´) has found its way into the vocabulary of the modern man. Even though it used to be mentioned mostly in contexts dealing with history, nowadays you can find the ‘Celtic’ label on many products and projects. It appears that it is now officially “cool to be Celtic”. Hundreds of people have recently come up with some ‘Celtic stuff’, everything from doing music and dancing to, for instance, cooking.
The popularity of Celtic music is constantly soaring and it deserves to be mentioned when discussing modern music, not only music of the British Isles. Most of the world is surely familiar with the music of the famous Enya and some of you may have heard Mike Oldfield´s CD Voyager which was inspired by Celtic music and contains Celtic motifs. Another rather well known ‘Celtic project’ is Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance. These are only a few examples out of many. The music has the sound of the highlands, the sound of the past as well as the present of the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish. Celtic blood flows through the veins of many Europeans and Americans and, it seems, we are somehow returning to this ancient heritage.
Traditionally, Celtic musicians use acoustic instruments or unaccompanied vocals. However, you will find many modern bands who are using less-traditional instruments, such as electric and bass guitars, keyboards, drums, mandolins, etc. to create their distinctive Celtic features. You can buy CD´s with Celtic lullabies, Celtic hymns, Celtic Christmas carols, Celtic rock, Celtic dance music and even Celtic techno. Despite this variety, in most cases the music manages to bring the beauty, the richness, the joy and mirth, and the ideals of the old Celts to our present-day world.
The traditional instruments include, for example, the tin whistle (you can hear it in Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On), Uillean pipes, highland pipes, bodhran (a special drum played by hand), Celtic harp and others. The lyrics to the music are, if not in English, in Irish or Gaelic (the old language of the Celts, which is still used in some rural parts of northern Scotland and some islands to the north of Britain).
The themes of Celtic music are many. Beside tunes telling of everyday simple things, there are songs celebrating nature and its beauty. It is known that the Celts worshipped nature, stones, trees, stars, the wind, the sun, the moon and other things. This is often reflected in their music.
Because of the rising popularity of this style (sometimes not only a style of music, but even a style of living), you can buy a lot of trash if you just go around buying things labelled ´Celtic´. Therefore, be careful when buying yourself presents.
Máire Brennan is definitely not a novice in the field of Celtic music. If you haven´t heard of her, you must have heard about her sister, Enya. Maíre plays the Celtic harp and the keyboards. She sings either in English or her native Irish. She is the founding member of the band Clannad and since 1992 has been making solo albums, too.
Clannad has been around since 1973. They were pioneers in using Celtic motives in popular music and seventeen bestselling records brought them world-wide popularity. The band was formed by Máire´s two uncles and two younger brothers. Her sister, Enya, left Clannad after singing with them for three years. Their first performances took place in a pub owned by Máire´s father. Many people criticized their singing in Irish Gaelic, but this feature helped them form their own identity and start a new music style. Many years have passed since their first shows. Their music has continued to improve and their fame has risen. Clannad´s music was even used in many popular movies, such as Robin Hood and The Last of the Mohicans. The world can also hear Máire´s voice in the duet ´In a Lifetime´ with Bono, the lead singer of U2. She has also had a share in the film Titanic, where her song ´Come Josephine, in My Flying Machine´ was used. In 1999, Clannad´s album Landmarks was awarded a Grammy.
Máire´s solo projects were not enjoying as much success as Clannad´s. The first solo album that was recognised by critics was Perfect Time, which came out in 1998. Whisper to the Wild Waters arrived a year later and satisfied both fans and critics. Both albums have a Christian message in them, one of hope, love and peace.