“Uncouth, untuneful, and unmusical.”
July 30, 2014 10:32 AM Subscribe
Sean-nós singing: a bluffer's guide.
posted by Sheydem-tants (24 comments total)
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While the future
of the Gaeltacht is in question
, sean-nós singing is alive and well in Ireland and beyond.
Sean-nós singing, or singing of Gaelic-language tunes “in the old way,” apparently got its name in the early 20th century as a way to distinguish it from the better-known “parlor-style” singing of English-language tunes
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann names three distinct regions of the Gaeltacht
in which sean-nós singing flowered: Munster, Connemara (Galway), and Ulster. Per Comhaltas, the Ulster style is distinct from the other two in its Scots influence and relative lack of ornamentation.
Some of the most marked qualities of sean-nós singing are:
- Gaelic language (although you will hear the sean-nós style applied liberally to English-language songs)
- No or minimal vibrato
- A cappella
- Grace notes and melisma (Ulster style is more “plain”)
- The singer does not “act” the emotion: the voice and the tune carry the message>
Sean-nós singing has been known to send children running around the room, ears covered. However, sean-nós singers have always had many devoted fans and the style has influenced modern singers and composers like Sandy Denny
, Sheila Chandra
, and Lisa Gerrard
There is sean-nós dancing as well, and it is distinct from step-dancing
Sean-nós singers old and new: