An Irish music glossary

Bodhrán ('bow·ron, 'bor·on), derived from the Irish Gaelic verb “to deafen.” An Irish frame drum, covered on one side usually with goatskin. Often played with a double-end stick (Kerry style); sometimes played with a single-end stick or by hand. The modern bodhrán is tunable and has no crossbar.

Bouzouki (boo·'zoo·kee, buh·'zoo·kee). A long-necked, pear-shaped stringed instrument, about the size of a small guitar, played with a plectrum (pick). Similar to cittern and octave mandolin.

Céilí ('kay·lee), also spelled ceilidh. An Irish social dance.

Celtic ('kel·tik, pronounced 'sel·tiks for American sports teams).

Cipín (kih·'peen), Irish Gaelic for “twig.” When playing the bodhrán (Irish frame drum), also called beater or stick.

Concertina ('con·ser·'tee·nuh). A hexagonel-shaped, free-reed, bellows instrument played with keys (buttons) on both ends.

Fiddle. Exactly the same instrument as violin. Terms are interchangeable.

Hornpipe. An Irish dance tune type played in moderate 4/4 time with a swing. Originated in England.

Jig. An Irish dance tune type played in moderate 6/8 time. Originated in Germany.

Mandolin. A pear-shaped stringed instrument about the size of a fiddle (violin) but played with a pick (plectrum) instead of a bow.

Polka. A type of Irish dance tune played briskly in 2/4 time. Originated in Poland, popular in southwest Ireland.

Reel. An Irish dance tune type played briskly in 4/4 time. Originated in Scotland.

Sean nós ('shan·no), Irish Gaelic for “old style.”

Seisiún (sesh·'shoon, 'sesh·un), Irish Gaelic for “session.” An informal gathering of traditional Irish musicians. A jam session.

Simple-system flute. An old-style flute, usually made of wood, with a conical bore and six holes. May also have one or more keys.

Slide. An Irish dance tune type played briskly in 12/8 time. Popular in southewest Ireland.

Slip jig. An Irish dance tune type played in moderate 9/8 time.

Slow air. An Irish tune or song played or sung (rhythmically) freely.

Tinwhistle. Also known as a pennywhistle or whistle. A fipple flute; a small six-hole conical or cylindrical-shaped wind instrument often made of metal.

Uilleann pipes ('ill·un), Irish Gaelic for “elbow.” An Irish bagpipe with bellows pumped by the elbow.

Other Irish dance tune types: barn dance, fling, march, mazurka, schottische, waltz.

Other Irish instruments: bones, button accordion, cittern, guitar, harp, octave mandolin, shoes.

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