Irish Dance Music: From Traditional to Electronic

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Discover the different types of Irish dance music, from traditional to electronic, and how they are used in Irish dancing.

Irish Dance Music History

Irish dance music has a long and varied history, from the traditional jigs and reels of the Celtic countries to the modern electronic music of today. Irish dance music has been influenced by many other genres of music, including American country music, Scottish Highland music, and even Indian music. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of Irish dance music and how it has evolved over the years.

Traditional Irish Dance Music

Irish dance music is the generic term for music that was created specifically to accompany Irish dancing. It ranges from the purely traditional to the highly modern, and everything in between.

Traditional Irish dance music is generally percussive, and centers around the use of traditional Irish instruments such as the fiddle, tin whistle, uilleann pipes, and bodhran (a type of hand drum). This style of music is often played at a very fast tempo, and can be quite energetic.

Over the years, traditional Irish dance music has been infused with elements of other genres, resulting in a wide variety of sub-styles. For example, “ceili” music is a form of traditional Irish dance music that has been influenced by Scottish and American country dancing. “Set” dancing is another sub-style that arose out of the need for dancers to have music that was specifically tailored to the set dances that were popular at the time.

In more recent years, traditional Irish dance music has undergone something of a revival, thanks in part to Riverdance and other shows that have popularized it on a global scale. This has led to a renewed interest in both playing and listening to this unique and captivating style of music.

Riverdance and the Rise of Modern Irish Dance Music

Since its debut in 1994, Riverdance has become a global phenomenon, introducing Irish dance to a whole new audience.

While Riverdance may have brought Irish dance music to a wider audience, it is by no means the first example of this genre. In fact, Irish dance music has a long and rich history, dating back centuries.

Traditionally, Irish dance music was played on the fiddle (a type of violin), the flute, and the tin whistle. These instruments were used to accompany dances such as the jig and the reel.

Over time, however, the sound of Irish dance music began to change. In the late 20th century, musicians began to experiment with different instruments and styles, resulting in a more modern sound.

Today, Irish dance music encompasses a wide range of genres and styles, from traditional tunes to contemporary electronica. Whatever your taste in music, there’s sure to be an Irish dance tune that you’ll enjoy!

Irish Dance Music Today

Irish Dance music has come a long way since its traditional roots. Now, there are many different styles of Irish Dance music, from traditional to electronic. This article will explore the different types of Irish Dance music and their origins.

Traditional Irish Dance Bands

Traditional Irish dance bands usually consist of a melodeon or accordion, fiddle, flute, tin whistle, drums and perhaps a guitar. The music they play is lively, fast and mostly in 4/4 time. These bands often get together informally to play at house sessions or practice for ceilidhs (Irish for ‘party’).

Contemporary Irish Dance Bands

Since the 1990s, traditional Irish music has undergone something of a renaissance, with a new wave of talented musicians carrying the torch for the genre. While some bands stick strictly to traditional instrumentation and repertoire, others have incorporated elements of rock, jazz, and even electronic music into their sound. Here are some of the most popular contemporary Irish dance bands today.

The Chieftains
Founded in 1962, The Chieftains are perhaps the best-known Irish band in the world. The group has toured extensively and collaborated with everyone from Van Morrison to Sting, managing to stay relevant and fresh despite their long career. They were even nominated for a Grammy in 2013 for their album Voice of Ages.

The Greenfields
The Greenfields are a relatively new band, but they’ve already made a big splash in the Irish music scene with their high-energy live shows and Merrily Weekend, their critically acclaimed debut album. Drawing inspiration from traditional sources as well as contemporary artists like Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons, The Greenfields are taking Irish music in exciting new directions.

Celtic Woman
Celtic Woman is a musical ensemble that combines traditional Irish instruments like the fiddle and tin whistle with classical influences and modern pop sensibilities. The group has released over a dozen albums and DVDs since they formed in 2004, selling over six million copies worldwide. They’ve also performed for sold-out audiences across the globe, including at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall.

Electronic Irish Dance Music

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of electronic Irish dance music. This type of music often incorporates traditional Irish instruments and melodies with modern electronic dance beats. Many people enjoy this type of music because it is energetic and fun to dance to.

There are many different artists who create electronic Irish dance music. Some of the most popular include Celtic Woman, Gaelic Storm, and The Wolfe Tones. These artists often use traditional Irish instruments such as the fiddle, tin whistle, and bodhran in their songs. They also often sing in Gaelic, which is the native language of Ireland.

If you are interested in learning more about electronic Irish dance music, there are many resources available online. You can find plenty of websites that offer streaming audio or video of this type of music. You can also find several radio stations that specialize in playing this genre of music.

Irish Dance Music for Beginners

Irish dance music is a type of music that is specifically designed for Irish dancing. It is characterized by a strong beat and a fast tempo. The music is often accompanied by traditional Irish instruments such as the fiddle, the tin whistle, and the bodhrán. Irish dance music can be either traditional or electronic.

Where to Find Irish Dance Music

One of the great things about Irish dance music is that it can be found in a variety of places. You don’t necessarily have to go to an Irish pub or join an Irish dance class to enjoy it. Thanks to the internet, there are a number of ways to find and enjoy Irish dance music without even leaving your home.

There are a number of websites that offer streaming Irish dance music, like Spotify and Pandora. If you’re looking for something specific, you can also try searching for Irish dance music on YouTube or Soundcloud. And if you want to buy Irish dance music, iTunes and Amazon both have a good selection of CDs and digital downloads.

You can also find Irish dance music at live events, like ceilis (pronounced “kay-lees”), which are basically just big parties where people get together to drink, socialize, and yes, dance. If you’re in Ireland, you can find ceilis happening almost every night of the week. But even if you’re not in Ireland, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy live Irish dance music – just check your local listings for events happening near you.

How to Choose the Right Irish Dance Music

When it comes to choosing the right Irish dance music, there are a few things to keep in mind. Traditional Irish music is always a good choice, but if you’re looking for something with a little more energy, there are plenty of contemporary options as well.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing your music:

* The type of dance you will be doing
* The number of dancers
* The level of difficulty of the dance
* The mood you want to create

Once you’ve considered all of these factors, you can start narrowing down your choices. If you’re still not sure which song is right for your dance, ask your dance teacher or instructor for guidance.

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