Celtic Music -- Defined
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 98 00:55:52 -0800
Subject: Celtic Music -- Defined
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Excerpts from the Zouki No-Bullshit Encyclopedia of Musical Terms, Volume III
[Harvard Press, 1996]:
Celtic [KEL-tik or (in Boston area) SEL-tik], adj.
The term "Celtic" is often applied to forms of musical expression that sound
almost Irish or almost Scots but are in actuality not either.
Music referred to as "Celtic" is commonly sweet and harmless; in listening
to it, one has the impression of something diaphanous or shimmery, kind of
musical Jello [green, without the fruit cocktail], easily digested and soon
Celtic music is undemanding and inoffensive; it will never break up any
families or keep anybody up for three days and night playing it. It's
soothing enough to play on an airliner just before take-off; it's an
easy-listening programmer's dream around Saint Patrick's day.
Celtic music wants to be loved by everybody; it pities the unshaven yahoos
crouched in smelly dark pubs spilling drinks on themselves and shouting
things like 'upya-boya!' at equally unappetizing musicians.
In content Celtic music is often minor or mixolydian; harps and synths and
heavy reverb are important to its sound; banjos almost never used; uilleann
pipes are okay if they can be miked to sound very far away and not
particularly happy about it. If bodhrans are used, they are played as melody
instruments; usually there are a lot of them. Theramins and glass harmonicas
are not beyond the realm of possibility.
Conjecture 1: If it kicks ass and makes you want to stuff the headphones
INSIDE your ears, it's probably not Celtic.
Conjecture 2: Joe Burke, Frankie Gavin, Liz Carroll, James Kelly, Joe
Derrane, and 7,654 other musicians are NOT Celtic and never will be.
Some important rules to keep in mind:
 True Celtic music must never be performed using identifiable melodies.
 An Irish tune can be transformed into a Celtic tune, but the process is
not pleasant to listen to and can cause serious trauma to those over the
age of forty.
 If you hear it:
---having a cavity filled
---having your bad back manipulated
---stocking up on house-brand toilet paper at the supermarket
---waiting for Earl and the guys to finish up that lube job on your Mazda
...the chances are 97.4 to 1 that it's Celtic.
Celtic music is best listened to with two Paddies [neat] under one's belt
and perhaps a small animal nearby to vent one's frustrations upon.
It's also appropriate to listen to Celtic music when watching an
astronomical event like a solstice or an equinox, but the listener should
ideally be robed in bear-skins [scraped] at the time to capture the
plenitude of the experience. A goblet or two of mead doesn't hurt either.
WARNING: Welsh, Manx, and Breton music are also considered part of Celtic
music. This should serve as sufficient warning to those intending to drive
vehicles, perform gall-bladder surgery, or operate machinery.
The term "Celtic" is also extended to Galician music and, according to the
ethnomusicological gossip mill, may soon be stretched to cover the musical
endeavors of the mysterious Lost Celts of the Trans-Caucasus, who routinely
disembowel any musician daring to play in 4/4 time and who worship an
obscure deity that resembles Paddy Moloney.
© 1998 Peter Langston