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Irish Music Assignment Essay

The term Sean-nos or traditional Irish singing in the Irish Language, is a style of singing, which is rooted in the Gaeltacht regions of the Ireland. There are three main styles of Sean-nos, corresponding to the three areas where Irish is still spoken as a community language, the Gaeltachtai of Munster, Connacht and Ulster. Munster Gaeltachtai includes parts of Kerry, Cork and Waterford, the Connemara region of Connacht and the Ulster Gaeltacht in Donegal. Although Sean-nos is practised outside these areas, only in these 3 areas would it be the most popular. Even though all these areas have all share the same interest in singing they all have there own unique ways of performing Sean-nos songs. Sean-nos singing is normally unaccompanied and performed as a solo art. The person who sings a Sean-nos song is usually telling a story through the song by combining many vocal techniques, especially through the use of ornamentation and variation.

Sean-nos singers use different techniques to ornament the performance of a song, One syllable in a word can be sung to several notes and the notes can be varies from verse to verse. Sometimes the notes to be ornamented can be adjacent to each other and at other times the gap between them is wide. This style of singing is confined mainly to Munster. Different notes can be stressed for a particular effect, or a note can be held over several beats. for example the famous Sean-nos singer from munster Iarla Ó Lionáird shows off these techniques of Ornamentation and variation in his most recent album Foxlight which was released in September 2011.

Another obvious difference between the Sean-nos style of singing can be seen in the Ulster style. Donegal sean-nós has been heavily influenced by Scots Gaelic song, which is much less ornamented than sean-nós. Donegal singers tend to keep a steady pulse throughout the song. The melody is presented with minimal ornamentation grace notes, and may also contain a steady pulse throughout the song. The Donegal style of Sean-nos singing can be heard through Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde who is a well known sean-nós singer from Gaoth Dobhair, Co. Donegal who was the winner of Corn Uí Riada, the Oireachtas sean-nós singing competition, in 2009.

Dominic released his own album in 2004 called Saol na Suáilce, presenting us with the unique Ulster style of Sean-nos singing Like the Munster style of singing Connacht Sean-nos singing in the Connemara area is also highly ornamentated with forms familiar to a traditional instrumentalis and also alot of variation making it difficult to tell the difference between the two, Seosamh Ó hÉanaí from Connemara a famous Sean-nos singer that passed away in 1984 had recorded hundreds of songs using his distinct Connemara style of singing.

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