What's the difference between how Irish and Scottish Fiddlers play in a group?

Home Forums Fiddle Lesson Forum What's the difference between how Irish and Scottish Fiddlers play in a group?

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Roland White 11 months, 1 week ago.

  • Author
  • #15309


    I’ve heard the terms Session and Ceilidh thrown around to indicate how Irish and Scottish Fiddlers might play in a group. What are the rules of these groups and how do they differ between Irish and Scottish? For example, I’ve heard that all the players in an Irish Session have to play the same tune together exactly the same, or, well, maybe differences in the tune aren’t welcome? Is this even true, and do the Scots / Bretoners have the same kind of rules?

  • #15310

    Roland White

    Hi pcviola44,

    In my experience each one is different but a lot of session qualities do tend to overlap. I would say that for any time you are thinking of joining a group its a good idea to get a lay of the land so to speak. Try to preview the session beforehand, maybe not even expecting to play to see if you’re at the level that the players are. Most of the time there is a leader of the session and they other players will suggest the tunes, so evaluate if they are playing tunes you know.

    It doesn’t matter what type of session you play in but always some etiquette is best observed from a distance or if you’re in a new town and you’re only going to play there once, its OK to listen to a tune or two to see if you’re a fit and if so just approach the group, introduce yourself and play along.

    For playing tunes in groups with Irish and Scottish music there is generally speaking a session variation that is pretty well known and in common with everyone. If different than your version the idea is to blend along or to compliment the music. I’ve found playing in groups is a good time to play in unison or as close to the group rather than playing any fancy variations I’ve learned. Not necessarily dumbing down my tune but trying to blend with the group sound. Solo breaks aren’t common in either settings, however occasionally a player will introduce a new tune to the group. I hope this helps. As I recall there might be more specific session Etiquette tips printed on thesession.org

    Good luck and have fun, sessions of either genre are fun, exciting and a time to learn a lot.
    Best, Roland Forum Moderator

  • #15317

    Casey Willis

    Good question PC and good info, Roland.

    The only tidbit of info I might add is that I’ve heard Hanneke refer to a Ceilidh as a term used to describe a dance or musical party.

    So I guess the distinction I took away was that a session is mainly musicians…a Ceilidh is musicians and dancers/partying. But I could be totally off on that…


  • #15333

    Roland White

    Yes and to piggy back off of that the Irish Celi is like the Scots ceidlih for musicians and dancers. RW

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.