Good Scales for Celtic Music


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guitarlord28
12-19-2009, 11:19 PM
I'm writing some instrumental guitar songs (think Steve Vai) and I wanted to do one with an Irish/Celtic feel. So I was wondering, what are some good scales and accompanying chords that are used for traditional Irish/Celtic music?

guitarsftw
12-19-2009, 11:24 PM
Typical major/minor, and dorian and mixolydian both work well, too.

Rikki DeMartini
12-19-2009, 11:36 PM
It's all about the rhythm and phrasing. I know this doesn't exactly seem like help, but just listen to that kind of music non-stop for a few days. You'll start to notice the common elements.

guitarlord28
12-19-2009, 11:40 PM
It's all about the rhythm and phrasing. I know this doesn't exactly seem like help, but just listen to that kind of music non-stop for a few days. You'll start to notice the common elements.

Thats what I was thinking. Do you know of any artists that are mainly Irish/Celtic traditional. Like with almost no pop/rock elements mixed in?

MicahChaney
12-19-2009, 11:51 PM
1. Do it in 12/8 instead of 4/4.

2. Use Mixolydian for a happy sound or Dorian for a more serious sound

3.Experiment all to hell.

I threw this together in a few seconds. It's in 12/8 and uses C Mixolydian. Bar 1 and 3 are the same because I thought it sounded cool and bar 4 resolves the thing to the C which makes it Mixolydian.


E E E E E E E E E E E E
E||------------------------------------------------|
B||-------------------------11--10-----------------|
G||------12--10--9--10--12----------12--10--9--10--|
D||--10--------------------------------------------|
A||------------------------------------------------|
E||------------------------------------------------|


E E E E E E E E E E E E
-----------------------------------------------|
-----------------------------------------------|
------12--10--9--10--12--10--9-----------------|
--10----------------------------10--8--10--12--|
-----------------------------------------------|
-----------------------------------------------|


E E E E E E E E E E E E
------------------------------------------------|
-------------------------11--10-----------------|
------12--10--9--10--12----------12--10--9--10--|
--10--------------------------------------------|
------------------------------------------------|
------------------------------------------------|


E E E E E E E E E Q.
--13--12--10----------------------10----------||
--------------13--11--10--11--13------13------||
----------------------------------------------||
----------------------------------------------||
----------------------------------------------||
----------------------------------------------||




I really hoped that helped a little :)

Rikki DeMartini
12-19-2009, 11:54 PM
Thats what I was thinking. Do you know of any artists that are mainly Irish/Celtic traditional. Like with almost no pop/rock elements mixed in?
Unfortunately not, which is something i've actually been meaning to look up on.

A quick skim of youtube gets some decent stuff though:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjHYG6ks-Sc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EO-VzwQz54&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oT6qdJtQkyo&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXt0G1UvolQ

And such like.

DiminishedFifth
12-20-2009, 12:39 AM
Firstly, there is no such thing as a scale that is straight up "Celtic/Irish" sounding. It's a good idea to understand that. There's just more commonly used, and less commonly used. I've heard things in Major AND minor that had that sound. Though, the Dorian and Mixolydian modes are used the most often for that kind of music.

Secondly, look at your phrasing. Watch your chord progressions. I highly doubt that real Celtic music had very vast progressions. More probably than not, they were very, very simple one, two or three chord vamps with a changing melody (in some way) over the top of it.

Experiment with everything... just do it.

Happy Playing

Blind In 1 Ear
12-20-2009, 12:46 AM
they tend to use mixolydian and dorian scales/progressions a lot as well as regular major and minor stuff.

demonofthenight
12-20-2009, 08:29 AM
I've always thought traditional irish folk music used a style similar to renaissance music. This meant; no chords, very little harmonic accompaniment (maybe a counter-melody or two?), very rhythmic and melodies would be based off of modes (start and finish on the same note of a mode). Am I right?

Bearing in mind, our western perception (shipping out to boston) is probably very different from true irish songs.

descara
12-20-2009, 09:34 AM
I've always thought traditional irish folk music used a style similar to renaissance music. This meant; no chords, very little harmonic accompaniment (maybe a counter-melody or two?), very rhythmic and melodies would be based off of modes (start and finish on the same note of a mode). Am I right?

Bearing in mind, our western perception (shipping out to boston) is probably very different from true irish songs.


Actually, the shipping up to boston-sound isn´t too far out, but it´s just one aspect of irish music.

What you say about little harmonic accompaniment is also very true, often you´ll see two musicians with a melodic instrument each, taking turns and/or playing unison.

Also, for example, the Irish style of playing melodian almost never uses the bass and chord buttons, as opposed to the Swedish style. There´s also specific Irish melodians that are more suited for solo playing without using the accompaniment buttons (more accidentals available out of the view-point of the key it is tuned to), but is more difficult to play melody and accompaniment at the same time on.


TS, I know quite a few old Irish folk tunes (actually travelled Ireland, partly to play with Irish folk musicians), which I think could be about what you´re looking for, do you want me to write them down for you (don´t know any names though, all ear-to-ear :p: )?

The4thHorsemen
12-20-2009, 09:38 AM
Hm, I've actually just got back on a sorta celtic / renaissance type instrumental I started a long time ago and forgot about. It's called Metal Minstrels :D

But yea, the more celtic sounding parts of it tend to be in 3/4 or 6/8 (I can't remember what the difference is for some reason)

The chord progressions tend to be fairly simple, and have a kinda repetitive (but still changing) melody that may or may not move around with the chords.

steven seagull
12-20-2009, 09:46 AM
Less chords, more drones - bagpipes are the quintessential celtic instrument.

Eggmond
12-20-2009, 09:51 AM
its all about phrasing.its mostly major/minor/mixolydian but guitar is usually just an accompaniment so its usually just simple chords.DADGAD tuning is used quite a bit

heres some typical trad music
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zb1K5BCtLY8&feature=related

Less chords, more drones - bagpipes are the quintessential celtic instrument.

for some styles nd uilleann pipes are more commonly used for irish music

Declan87
12-20-2009, 12:35 PM
you should know what kind of tune you're going to write before starting. a 6/8 jig, a 4/4 reel, a slow "dotted" hornpipe, a free-time slow air, or a 9/8 slip jig(those are the main ones I can think of off the top of my head) Most trad sets will have a waltz, but those aren't really part of the traditional sound.

For scales, pentatonics are usually used, and the the main scales are major, minor, dorian and mixolydian. There are some prasing conventions, like tunes often ending on a repeated note, and reels often being constant streams of quavers. Also, ornamentation(slides, trills, vibrato, hammer-on/pulloff if you're playing a string instrument) is your friend.

Most Irish tunes have a "tune" and a "turn", or A and B sections. Each section is repeated before going to the next, giving most pieces the form AABB.

For inspiration, you should look up Planxty(although they often mix in Bulgarian and Eastern European influences), Paul Brady, Mick Hannon, Luke Kelly(best trad singer ever, but won't help you much with writing tunes)

clayonfire
12-20-2009, 03:05 PM
I actually saw a Celtic band preform live once; they weren't a big name band (I think), but they were good. It was a duet, a man and his wife; He played various instruments, such as a 12 String Guitar (probably tuned to DADGAD, maybe CGCFGC for the sake of tension on the neck, and it was often times Capo 2), a violin (fiddle), a viola, and sang. Whenever he played guitar, it was just an accompaniment to his singing. This doesn't mean you couldn't use it to play the melody though. You could. And a strong majority of celtic songs are in 3/4, 6/8, 9/8, and 12/8. His wife played this Harp-like instrument. I'm not sure if it was a true harp, but it was played the same way, and it had little switches for all the strings that could make each string a half-step sharper.

Oh yeah, and although you're not wondering about singing, but I just feel like stating many of the songs that he sang were in the language of "Great Scott" or something like that...it was like English, but it had it's own language to part of it.

guitarlord28
12-20-2009, 04:04 PM
TS, I know quite a few old Irish folk tunes (actually travelled Ireland, partly to play with Irish folk musicians), which I think could be about what you´re looking for, do you want me to write them down for you (don´t know any names though, all ear-to-ear :p: )?

If it wasn't too much trouble, that would be great.

Basically its about phrasing and rhythm to get the feel then? I hate counting all the 4/4, 3/4, 12/8, and other times. Counting different times is weird to me, cause you can basically play the same thing in all times you know? Just you would have different types of notes in each one. (Quarter, sixteenth, etc.) Does anyone understand what I'm saying? Like I could play a lick in 4/4, then I could play it in 3/4 with the same rhythm, but if you put it on paper, some of the notes' times would be different

Cyberbob
12-20-2009, 05:02 PM
It's largely about the drone - I suggest tuning to DADGAd, it works very well for Irish music.
Melody will largely be in dorian, so if you're use that tuning, there'll be a lot of D dorian!