Every Sunday at 2PM, Music of Ireland and the British Isles presents traditional Gaelic acoustic music played in the traditional styles of the last 100 years. The performances are on traditional instruments. Some of the performers are established stars with reputations in their genre as big as Frank Sinatra or Meryl Streep or Derek Jeter in their genres. Some performers are from the new generation.
Because Gaelic music and song falls into two broad categories: ‘traditional’ and ‘popular.’ Distinctive traditional categories include psalm singing and waulking songs (work songs sung by women to lighten their work while waulking, the final stage in the long, laborious process of producing homespun cloth. In waulking the worker finishes newly-woven tweed by soaking it in stale urine and thumping it rhythmically to shrink, thicken and soften it – all done by hand in the old days. The songs served to keep the rhythm and lighten the work. In this sense, waulking songs are akin in origin to sea chanties.)
Traditional culture has a strong oral tradition, so that highly personalized versions of sometimes ancient lyrics have been the norm. The transcription of melodies is a relatively modern feature.
Traditional culture is the culture of working people. 30% of the present Lackawanna County population trace their roots to Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. Their immigrant ancestors were working people. This is their cultural heritage.
There are three musical instruments directly associated with the traditional musical tradition: the harp, the fiddle and the bagpipes. All three have undergone something of a modern revival, as a new, dynamic generation of tradition bearers challenges the more conservative performance styles of the past, but from within the tradition.
In traditional music the links between singing and piping are inextricable. Generally speaking there are two types of pipe music– ‘great music’ –referring to the classical music– and ‘small music’ – marches, airs and dance tunes such as strathspeys, reels, jigs and hornpipes.
Music of Ireland and the British Isles showcases and explores all of this.
Music of Ireland and the British Isles also features documentaries on various aspects of traditional music, and interviews with leading traditional culture figures in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.
Music of Ireland and the British Isles is hosted by Jermyn-native Leo Schott, Jr., a world renowned musicologist, teacher and performer of traditional Gaelic music on the Uilleann pipes, the Highland pipes, the Galician pipes, the Scottish small pipes, flutes, tin whistle and saxophone. He also sings.