Traditional Irish music with a twist hits the right notes with young fans

  • By Bernadette Allen
  • BBC news

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All Folk’d Up is a contemporary Irish folk band based in County Tyrone

“Shining traditional music in the light of pop gives it a cooler look for young people – and it’s young people who will keep this stuff alive.”

So says Oisin McManus – a piano player with The Tumbling Paddies, who are a six-piece band from County Fermanagh that fuse traditional Irish music with pop music.

The band formed nine years ago and Oisin said demand for the band’s style of music has really grown.

“It’s a market with a twist – trad pop,” he said.

“We have an interest in modern types of music and combine that with the traditional Irish type of music we play instrumentally – and we feel people respond really well to that combination.

“The other guys grew up with trad; I myself grew up with a sort of classical background and learned pop songs in my time as well.

“So we all put our little influences together and I think that’s what makes our sound today.”

However, The Tumbling Paddies aren’t the only group giving traditional Irish music a twist.

image source, Falling ponds

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The Tumbling Paddies from County Fermanagh are a band that fuse traditional Irish music with pop music

All Folk’d Up is a contemporary Irish folk band based in County Tyrone.

Their manager Matthew Jordan said that since Covid-19, the band’s genre of music has become really popular.

“Trad has always been there – it may not have always been this cool thing before – but I think since these bands have come along, it’s certainly added a new dimension to songs and music,” he added.

“It’s got people interested in traditional Irish music again.”

Matthew said social media plays a big part in the band’s audience reach – with one of their performances receiving two million views on Tik Tok.

“These guys are acting as role models for today’s youth and I think that’s evident in the people that come to the concerts. I think a lot of it has to do with the social media following and the videos that they’re putting out.” he said.

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Matthew Jordan, All Folk’d Up’s manager, says social media plays a big part in helping the band reach younger audiences.

“The likes of TikTok — today’s young people are active there and they’re seeing videos of All Folk’d Up and other bands, and they’re looking up to these guys and trying to emulate what they’re doing.”

Ray Morgan is chairman of Glengormley School of Music and Belfast TradFest. He said he feels more young people in general are becoming interested in traditional Irish music.

“The success of these bands – a lot of it would come down to the fact that traditional Irish music itself is much more popular.

“Bands like All Folk’d up and The Tumbling Paddies are influencing kids to play traditional music, but the greater number of young people more interested in traditional music in general is also helping the success of these bands.”

The Department for Education says all schools are required by law to teach music as it is a statutory part of the curriculum from Foundation Stage to Key Stage 3, but says the curriculum does not specify any particular style or tradition of music that must be learned. .

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Ray Morgan of Glengormley School of Music and Belfast TradFest says he thinks more young people in general are taking an interest in traditional Irish music

Morgan said he thinks the education sector could do more about teaching traditional music in schools.

“Music is in the curriculum, but it depends on the school for the level of music provision.

“I feel there is very little or no input from the education authority about traditional music,” he said.

“The more integrated the music is and the more integrated traditional music is, the higher it will have – and the more attractive it will be to people from all communities.”

‘It’s a great job’

Oisin from The Tumbling Paddies said young people may think it’s not cool to play an instrument, but it’s important they keep learning.

“Young people will realize later that playing an instrument is what separates them from the pack,” he said.

That sentiment is something his bandmate Gareth Maguire – singer and whistler with the Tumbling Paddies – agreed with.

He advised young musicians watching the band to practice, practice, practice.

“Listen to as much music as you can. It’s the best thing you’ll ever do.

“You can play football until you’re injured, but you can play music until you’re in your nineties,” he said.

“It’s something you carry with you for the rest of your life.”

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