Fantasy Music
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Fantasy Music  [4878 Page Views]

Celtic music is a term utilised by artists, record companies, music stores and music magazines to describe a broad grouping of musical genres that evolved out of the folk musical traditions of the Celtic people of Western Europe. As such there is no real body of music which can be accurately be described as Celtic, but the term has stuck and may refer to both orally-transmitted traditional music and recorded popular music. Celtic music means two things mainly.

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At issue is the lack of many common threads uniting the "Celtic" peoples listed above. While the ancient Celts undoubtedly had their own musical styles, the actual sound of their music remains a complete mystery.

There is also tremendous variation between "Celtic" regions. Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany have living traditions of language and music, and there has been a recent major revival of interest in Wales. However, Cornwall and the Isle of Man have only small-scale revivalist movements that have yet to take hold. Galicia has no Celtic language today (Galician is a Romance language descending from Galician-Portuguese, although all the Western part of the Peninsula had Celtic languages in pre-Roman times, as did much of Europe, but Galician music is often claimed to be "Celtic." The same is true of the music of Asturias, Cantabria, and that of Northern Portugal (some say even traditional music from Central Portugal can be labeled Celtic). Thus traditionalists and musicological scholars dispute that the "Celtic" lands have any folk connections to each other.

Critics of the idea of modern Celtic music claim that the idea is the creation of modern marketing designed to stimulate regional identity in the creation of a consumer niche; June Skinner Sawyers, for example, notes that "Celtic music is a marketing term that I am using, for the purposes of this book, as a matter of convenience, knowing full well the cultural baggage that comes with it". The so-called "marketing" or "show-business" creation was popularized by the idealistic man who first (late 1960s) blended the music of all the Celtic countries with a modern touch in his recordings and concerts such as the 1971 album Renaissance of the Celtic Harp: the Breton Alan Stivell.[3] Although this composer is one of the main modern promoters of this kind of music, he did not create the term.[4]

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First, it is the music of the peoples calling themselves Celts  (a non-musical, primarily political definition), as opposed to, say, "French music" or "English music." Secondly, it refers to whatever qualities may be unique to the musics of the Celtic Nations (a musical definition). Some insist that different ostensibly Celtic musics actually have nothing in common – such as Geoff Wallis and Sue Wilson in their book The Rough Guide to Irish Music – whereas others (such as Alan Stivell), say there is.

Often, the term Celtic music is applied to the music of Ireland and Scotland because both places have produced well-known distinctive styles which actually have genuine commonality and clear mutual influences; however, it is notable that Irish and Scottish traditional musicians themselves avoid the term "Celtic music," except when forced by the necessities of the market. The definition is further complicated by the fact that Irish independence has allowed Ireland to promote 'Celtic' music as a specifically Irish product. In reality, the terms 'Scots/Scottish' and 'Irish' are purely modern geographical references to a people who share a common Celtic ancestry and consequently, a common musical heritage.

These styles are known because of the importance of Irish and Scottish people in the English speaking world, especially in the United States, where they had a profound impact on American music, particularly bluegrass and country music.[1] The music of Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Brittany, Galicia, Cantabria and Asturias (Spain) and Portugal are also considered Celtic music, the tradition being particularly strong in Brittany, where Celtic festivals large and small take place throughout the year, and in Wales, where the ancient eisteddfod tradition still occurs. Additionally, the musics of ethnically Celtic peoples abroad are vibrant, especially in Canada and the United States.

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