The subtitle of this book is ‘A ComprehensiveA-Z Guide to Irish and Celtic Music in All Its Gorms’ and for once this is an accurate statement. It is indeed indispensable guide to Irish music in all its varied facets. So let’s look at this wonderful book.
After a useful set of acknowledgements Long starts off with an introduction explaining how the guide was put together touching on the long time it took to finally get finished, a decade, the methodology used in putting it together, on growing up in the trad music science and even why bands such as the Afro-Celts, Horslips and Moving Hearts are important to trad Irish music even though most fans of this music will sniff loudly that ain’t so.
It’s not a book that most of us will read from cover to cover, so I decided to look specific bands. Let’s see the Nothy a and is here as is (naturally) Chieftains, Clannad, Moving a Hearts, Oisin, Planxty, Skara Brae and even obscure bands such as Scullion. Naturally you’ll find individuals such as Phil Coulter, Frank Givin, Christy Moore and Michael and Trina O Domhnaill.
Instruments are not neglected either with looks (to name but a few) the accordion, fiddle, flute and whistle are covered here as is the bodhran, an instrument often derided in trad session circles. And yes, there’s a very nice look at sessions in this guide.
( You might ask why bodhrans are derided would be clear if you ever encountered one of the prats who too often show up to play them in a session. It can be a terrible sight. And sound.)
Let’s see what we have here. Regional styles are covered as musical styles differ widely from County to County and even within counties. Just look at the entry on Doolin, an area on the West coast of Co. Clare for how detailed Long is in describing these styles.
One last note: the entry on Uilleann pipes is particularly worth taking the time for you to read as it’s one of the best looks at this instrument I’ve read.
Oh and do read the entry on Waltons, Ireland’s best-known music company.