Kids Craic: Festival Music!

Kids’ Craic: Festival Music!
by Dottie Wenger

Summer is upon us, so that means … festival season!   Kid’s Craic summer columns will be devoted to prepping for Celtic festivals, beginning with the music we can expect to hear.  This month, we focus on some popular instruments heard in Celtic music.

Bodhrain (pron. bow-rahn), also known as a “frame drum,” this is often the heartbeat of traditional Celtic music. Its size is 10 – 26 inches in diameter.  It is played with a small wooden stick, called a tipper. It’s believed that, years ago, the bodhrain was used for purposes other than music:  it may have been used as a husk sifter or a grain tray.

Pipes: Highland Bagpipes  are often called simply “pipes” or “Scottish bagpipes,”  they have a loud, moaning sound, and are played while standing.  The piper keeps the bag inflated using his or her breath. The bag is squeezed, and notes are played using a whistle like piece, called a chanter. 

Uilleann (pron. ill-yun) Pipes
orpipes of the elbow, are also called “Irish bagpipes.”  This ancient instrument has been around since the 5th century.  The uilleann pipes are much quieter than their counterpart.  The instrument is played while seated, and is not powered by the breath of its user, but by a bellows under the player’s arm.

Celtic Harp The harp is an iconic Celtic symbolIts image can be found on flags and currency. The Celtic harp is different from those played in orchestras: the Celtic harp is four feet high, and has thirty-four strings, instead of forty-seven like in other harps. 

Tin Whistle is also called the “penny whistle.” This is the simplest and least expensive of the traditional Celtic instruments.  It is a small metal tube with six holes, and a mouthpiece like a recorder. 

Fiddle looks identical to a violin.  The main difference is in the way the instrument is tuned.

Trivia Corner:  Did you know that the world’s biggest producer of bagpipes is Pakistan!
*Dottie taught kindergarten and second grade for a total of thirty-two years, and she now handles marketing and promotions for Yorktown Service Plaza in Parma Heights.  In her spare time, Dottie is a baker extraordinaire, and also enjoys participating in 5K events in order to offset collateral damage from this hobby.  She is married to John and has two sons, Daniel and Andrew Fowler, the latter of whom is very active in the Cleveland pipe band community.


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