What You Need to Know About Cornish Folk Music

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Cornish folk music is a unique and interesting genre that has its roots in the Celtic tradition. If you’re looking to learn more about this type of music, read on for a crash course!

What is Cornish folk music?

Cornish folk music is the traditional music of the Cornwall region in the United Kingdom. It is characterized by its unique blend of Celtic and English influences. Traditional instruments include the fiddle, accordion, concertina, penny whistle, and bodhran. The Cornish language is also an important part of the music, as many songs are sung in Cornish.

The history of Cornish folk music

Cornish folk music has its roots in the music of the Celtic people who settled in Cornwall in the fifth and sixth centuries AD. The Cornish language is a Celtic language, related to Welsh and Breton. Celtic music was brought to Cornwall by settlers from Brittany and Wales, and it is likely that the early Cornish folk songs were similar to those of their Breton and Welsh counterparts.

As time went on, however, the Cornish began to develop their own musical traditions. One of the most significant influences on Cornish folk music was the music of the West Country tin miners. This music, known as ‘stannard song’, was brought to Cornwall by workers from Devon and Somerset who came to work in Cornwall’s tin mines in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Stannard songs were typically upbeat and optimistic, reflecting the miners’ hard-working lifestyle.

Another important influence on Cornish folk music was maritime music. Many of Cornwall’s traditional songs are about shipwrecks, storms at sea, and other maritime themes. This is perhaps not surprising given Cornwall’s long history as a maritime nation; fishing has always been an important part of the Cornish economy, and many Cornishmen have served as sailors in the Royal Navy.

Today, Cornish folk music is enjoyed by both locals and visitors to Cornwall alike. If you’re ever in Cornwall during the summer months, be sure to check out one of the many folk festivals that take place throughout the county!

The instruments used in Cornish folk music

There are a wide variety of instruments used in Cornish folk music, from the traditional tin whistle and fiddle, to the more unusual melodeon and squeezebox. Here are just a few of the most popular instruments you’ll see being played at a traditional Cornish ceilidh:

Tin whistle: The tin whistle is a small, thin flute that is often used in Irish and Scottish music. It is easy to play and has a very distinctive sound.

Fiddle: The fiddle is a stringed instrument that is similar to a violin. It is often used in folk music because it can be played very fast, which gives the music an energetic feel.

Melodeon: The melodeon is a type of accordion that is popular in French and German folk music. It has a wide range of notes, which makes it ideal for playing complex melodies.

Squeezebox: The squeezebox is another type of accordion that is popular in English folk music. It has a more mellow sound than the melodeon and is often used to provide background accompaniment.

The different genres of Cornish folk music

Like the people of Cornwall, Cornish music is a blend of influences from its Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, and Norman past. The music of Cornwall mirrors the county’s history and is a reflection of its people. There are several different genres of Cornish folk music, each with its own unique characteristics.

The first and most well-known genre is traditional Cornish folk music. This music is characterized by its use of traditional instruments such as the accordion, fiddle, and tin whistle. Traditional Cornish folk songs often tell stories of the county’s history and culture.

A second genre of Cornish folk music is ceilidh music. Ceilidh music is a lively form of folk music that is often played at social gatherings such as weddings and parties. Ceilidh bands typically use a variety of instruments, including guitars, drums, and keyboards.

A third genre of Cornish folk music is brass band music. Brass bands were originally created to provide entertainment at public events such as parades and festivals. Today, brass bands are still popular in Cornwall and can be found performing at a variety of events. Brass band music typically features marching tunes and Fanfare-style pieces.

Finally, there is contemporary Cornish folk music which blends traditional folk styles with modern musical influences. Contemporary Cornish folk bands often use electric instruments and synthesizers in addition to traditional Folk instruments.

The lyrics of Cornish folk music

The vast majority of Cornish folk songs are sung in the Cornish language. This fact, combined with the paucity of written sources, means that we know relatively little about the lyrics of Cornish folk music. What we do know comes mainly from a handful of manuscripts and printed sources dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Most of the songs in these sources are love songs, ballads telling stories of lovers who meet tragic ends, or humorous songs poking fun at marriage and other aspects of rural life. There are also a few religious songs, but these are generally much less common than in other parts of Britain.

One interesting feature of Cornish folk music is the great emphasis on regional identity. Many songs celebrate specific places in Cornwall, such as Tintagel Castle or Bodmin Moor. This focus on place is perhaps not surprising given the strong sense of community that exists in Cornwall.

If you’re interested in learning more about Cornish folk music, there are a number of excellent resources available online and in print. The Cornwall County Council website has a good overview of the subject, while Craig Czury’s book ‘Cornish Folk Songs’ is an indispensable guide to the lyrics and history of this unique tradition.

The popularity of Cornish folk music

Cornish folk music has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, with a new generation of musicians taking up the torch and keeping the traditions alive. There are now a number of festivals and events dedicated to Cornish folk music, and it has become an important part of the region’s cultural identity.

Cornish folk music has its roots in the music of the Cornish people, who have their own distinct culture and history. The music has been shaped by many different influences over the centuries, including Celtic, Nordic, and English Traditions. Today, Cornish folk music is enjoyed by people all over the world, and there is a growing interest in its unique sound.

The influence of Cornish folk music

Cornish music has been influential in the development of several different genres of music, including particularly English and North American folk music, and has also been adopted into current popular genres such as rock and roll. The Cornish Language is a Brythonic Celtic language which was historically spoken in Cornwall in South West England, United Kingdom. It is one of the ancient languages of Britain which was brought over by Brittonic settlers during the Early Middle Ages. The language is known to have influenced the development of West Country dialects of English.

Folk songs in the Cornish language are known as “sung as” or ” sung in”. There are a number of different types of songs, including love songs, work songs, drinking songs, ballads and sea shanties. Many of these songs have been passed down through the generations and are still sung today.

The Cornish folk music scene is thriving, with many traditional bands performing at festivals and concerts throughout Cornwall and the rest of the world.

The future of Cornish folk music

As the popularity of Cornish folk music increases, so does the need for new, innovative bands to keep the tradition alive. Meet three of the most promising up-and-coming bands who are carrying Cornwall’s musical heritage into the future.

How to get involved in Cornish folk music

Cornish folk music is an important part of the region’s heritage and culture. There are many ways to get involved in this musical tradition, whether you’re a performer, a listener, or simply interested in learning more about it.

One of the best ways to learn about Cornish folk music is to attend one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year. These festivals provide an opportunity to see some of the finest performers in the genre in action, as well as to enjoy the atmosphere and socialise with other like-minded people.

If you’re interested in taking up Cornish folk music yourself, there are several things you can do to get started. Firstly, listen to as much of the genre as you can – there are many online resources that can help with this. Secondly, find a local teacher or group with which to learn – again, there are many resources available online that can help you with this. Finally, make sure you have the right instruments – traditional Cornish instruments include the fiddle, accordion, melodeon (a small button accordion), concertina, and tin whistle.

Why Cornish folk music is important

Traditional Cornish music is an important part of the county’s cultural heritage. It has been passed down from generation to generation, and is still enjoyed by many people today.

Cornish music is distinctive for its use of traditional instruments such as the bagpipes, fiddle and accordion. The music often has a lively, upbeat feel to it, and is often accompanied by dancing.

There are many different styles of Cornish folk music, and it is sometimes hard to categorise them. Some of the most popular genres include:

· Jigs – a fast-paced type of dance music that originates from the Irish tradition.

· Reels – another fast-paced type of dance music, typically played on fiddles or accordions.

· Polkas – a slower, more gentle type of folk music that is often played on accordions.

· Hornpipes – a type of maritime folk music that is traditionally played on the melodeon (a type of small accordion).

Similar Posts