Celtic Folk Music: The Best Instrumental Songs

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Celtic folk music has a long history and has been enjoyed by many for centuries. In this blog post, we’ll share some of the best Celtic folk songs that are perfect for any occasion.

Celtic Folk Music Defined

Celtic folk music is a genre of folk music that developed out of the folk music of the Celtic people. It is generally characterized by its use of traditional instruments, its focus on vocal melodies, and its often distinctive lyrical themes.

While there is no one definitive definition of Celtic folk music, there are a few common elements that are typically found in it. Firstly, Celtic folk music often makes use of traditional instruments such as the fiddle, the tin whistle, the accordion, and the Celtic harp. Secondly, vocals are often an important part of Celtic folk music, with many songs featuring intricate vocal melodies. Finally, Celtic folk music often has distinctive lyrical themes, such as love, loss, nature, and history.

While Celtic folk music can be found throughout the world, it is particularly associated with the countries of Ireland and Scotland. Irish and Scottish musicians have been at the forefront of the development and popularization of this genre of music, and many of the most famous Celtic folk songs are ones that originate from these two countries.

If you’re looking to explore Celtic folk music further, this playlist features some of the best instrumental songs in this genre. From haunting ballads to lively jigs and reels, these songs showcase the beauty and diversity of this musical tradition.

The Best Celtic Folk Songs

Celtic folk music is a genre of folk music that developed in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man. It is characterized by its unique Celtic instrumentation and melody. In this article, we will be discussing the best Celtic folk songs.

“The Butterfly”

“The Butterfly” is a 2020 traditional Celtic folk song written by Rachel Hair and released on her album, The Best Celtic Folk Songs. The song is about a young woman’s journey of self-discovery and her transformation from caterpillar to butterfly.

The song has a light, airy feel and is perfect for relaxation or yoga. The lyrics are written in both English and Gaelic, making it accessible to a wide audience. The song has been praised for its simple yet profound message of hope and self-acceptance.

“The Gael”

The Gael by Dougie MacLean is one of the most popular Celtic folk songs of all time. Released in 1980, the song has been used in movies, television shows, and even commercials. The lyrics tell the story of a Highland warrior who is forced to leave his home and fight in the Lowlands.

The Gael has been performed by many different artists, but Dougie MacLean’s version is the most well-known. The song is often used to symbolize Scottish pride and heritage, and it has become an anthem for the Scottish people.

“The Parting Glass”

“The Parting Glass” is a traditional Scottish and Irish folk song, often sung as a farewell or goodbye. It has been recorded by many artists over the years, including Celtic Woman, Sinead O’Connor, Ed Sheeran, and The Wailin’ Jennys. The lyrics to “The Parting Glass” are typically bittersweet, reflecting on both the good and bad times shared by the singer and the person they are saying goodbye to.

Why Celtic Folk Music is the Best

Celtic Folk Music has a unique sound that can be relaxing and energizing at the same time. The best Celtic Folk Music is instrumental, so you can enjoy the beautiful melodies without lyrics. Celtic Folk Music is the perfect background music for any occasion.

The Instruments

Celtic music is primarily vocal with various instruments providing the accompaniment. Common traditional instruments include fiddle, tin whistle, Uilleann pipes, bagpipes, harp, drums and accordion. The bodhran (a goatskin-covered frame drum) is also a very common instrument used in Celtic folk music. In more recent times, modern instruments such as the guitar and synthesizer have been used in Celtic music as well.

The Lyrics

Celtic folk music is characterized by its unique lyrics. The lyrics are often about nature, love, and loss. They are also often about the history of the Celtic people. The lyrics are usually in a minor key, which gives the music a sense of mystery and melancholy. The lyrics are also often very complex, with many different verses and choruses. This can make Celtic folk music seem very poetic and romantic.

The Emotion

Celtic music has a way of plucking at your heartstrings and emotions. The music is beautiful, soulful, and moving. It can make you feel happy, sad, nostalgic, or even romantic. Celtic music is the perfect way to transportation yourself to another place and time.

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