I’ve considered myself an Irish/Celtic musician for years, even though I dabble in other styles from time to time. Celtic music (and the related folk styles) have always been the music for me — whenever I play, I feel like I am home. Even when I bounce between styles, the Irish trad is what I always come back to.
Now imagine everyone’s surprised when I requested — yes, I asked — for an ukulele for Christmas.
You heard me: the “Irish Music Girl” wanted an ukulele.
(I hear Celtic purists gasping everywhere.)
It’s not an instrument most (or anyone, really) would consider for Irish music. In the realm of “traditional” instruments, the uke is a far, faaaar cry from anything remotely within the Irish music ‘canon.’ The very image of an ukulele brings to mind long beaches of perfect white sand, palm trees, and exotic Polynesian dancers — NOT a rainy little island of ancient stones, wandering minstrels, and more greenery than you can shake a stick at.
I also think I’m fairly certain the uke suffers from being an easy instrument to play (who would have thought?). Advanced, accomplished players fear the “ukerus ignoramus” — the person with no musical clue that shows up and insists on being the obnoxious center of the session.
If you had asked me a year ago about playing the ukulele in Celtic music, I would have been yet another musician with a skeptical look pasted on my face.
That was, until I heard one played.
As it turns out, ukuleles have a lovely, bell-like tone that has all the sweetness of an Irish harp without costing $700 (or more). Their tuning is just about right for picking jigs and reels. In good hands, they are a mellow little instrument that doesn’t overpower the human voice.
The more I play, the more I love playing Irish music on my uke. At this point, it’s pretty much the first instrument I reach for when I feel like some music-making.
Yes. I play Celtic music.
And I’ll play my ukulele, too! 🙂