Celtic Music Resources

Here are some links to excellent Celtic music resources. Feel free to email me with more links, if you think I've missed something, or have any good links you think I should include.

For Bagpiping and Highland wear links, try my Bagpiping page.
For links specific to the fiddle or Celtic fiddling, try my Celtic Fiddling page.
For costuming links, or information on period clothing, try my Costuming page.


If you're in the D.C. area and want to hear a great Irish session, come to Nanny O'Brien's on Monday nights.

For entertainers and pubs around the rest of the U.S., try IrishUSA.com.

Celtic Events:

CeltDistrict maintains a list of events, concerts, and workshops in the Washington, D.C. area.
For my Texas friends, the Texas Celtic Music Network.

Clan MacLachlan maintains a page keeping track of Highland Games and Celtic Festivals around the world.

The website U. S. Scots also maintains great listings of the Scottish and Celtic events around the U.S.

For Canada, specifically the Atlantic coast, try Celtic Relics.

Here are a few of the Celtic festivals I try to regularly attend:

Festival Name and Link
Where? When?
The Southern Maryland Celtic Festival Prince Frederick, MD late Apr.
Houston Highland Games and Scottish Festival
Houston, TX
mid. May
The Potomac Celtic Festival Leesburg, VA mid. Jun.
The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Newland/Linville, NC mid. Jul.
The Virginia Scottish Games Alexandria, VA
late. Jul.
Ligonier Highland Games
Ligonier, PA
early Sep.
The Celtic Classic Bethlehem, PA
late Sep.
The Chesapeake Celtic Festival Furnacetown, MD
early Oct.
The Anne Arundel Scottish Festival and Highland Games Annapolis, MD
mid. Oct.
The Richmond Highland Games and Celtic Festival Richmond, VA
late Oct.

Celtic Music on the Radio and in the Media:

There's always Thistle and Shamrock, on most NPR stations.

For a general source on Cape Breton music, try Cape Breton Online.

For listening online, there's Celtic Grove radio.

For those in the D.C./Baltimore area, there's Mary Cliff's radio show, Traditions, which also maintains a wonderful and comprehensive list of the performances of folk music and dance in the Capital area.

Online Celtic Music Catalogues:

There are a number of places to get Celtic music CDs online.  One is Celtic Grooves Imports.  Another is Maggie's Music, which seems to specialize in music from the D.C./Baltimore area.  A third is the Goosetracks Catalog, operated by my good friends in the Maggie Drennon Band.  Finally, there's Bandstore, a place where independant artists can sell their own CDs.

Celtic and Folk Bands:

Here are a few of the bands I follow, or used to...
Altan - the best Irish superband out there.
Battlefield Band - Part of the troika of Scottish superbands.
Blarney Brothers - just a bunch of fun guys in colorful shirts.
Carbon Leaf - not Celtic, but definitely with a Celtic influence.
Hanneke Cassel - one of the great fiddlers in Halali.
Ceili's Muse - Several women, one voice. R.I.P. Maggie Drennon went on to SixMileBridge and now her own band.
The Chieftains - the best-known Irish band in the world.
Clandestine - my favorite band in the world, R.I.P.
Clannad - awe-inspiring Celtic new age.
Maggie Drennon Band - great rock with a Celtic flare!
Glengarry Bhoys - Celtic rock from Canada!
Halali - three lovely lady fiddlers and a guy on guitar.
Jen Hamel used to be the lead singer in Clandestine. Now she sings solo, or with her new folk band Mosby.
Jiggernaut - a great modern Celtic fusion band.
Moch Pryderi - a fun little Welsh music ensemble.
Shooglenifty - progressive Celtic music from Scotland.
SixMileBridge - a great Celtic rock band, R.I.P. Now the Maggie Drennon Band
Solas - the biggest Irish band from America.
The Tannahill Weavers - the 900lb gorilla of Scottish music.
E.J. Jones used to thrill us with his pipes in Clandestine. Now he does it in the Willow Band.
And more soon...

Musical Instrument & Music Suppliers:

I've left off bagpipe makers and outfitters, those will be listed in my Bagpipe Links section.

The Celtic music store where I get most of my instruments, gear, and sheet music is the Lark in the Morning.  When they say of an instrument "great sound at a bargain price", they mean it.  They deal in ethnic instruments from around the world, not just Celtic, and are just a wonderful place to window-shop.

Locally, I turn to the House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park, MD.  They also have links to music teachers in the D.C. area, and sponsor the Takoma Park street festivals, which are wonderful places to see all kinds of music.

Another well-stocked site is Song of the Sea.  Another is Celtic Fire, Ltd.

For guitars (acoustic, electric, 12-string), mandolins, stage gear, and everything you might need that isn't necessarily Celtic, try Musician's Friend.

Instruction and advice:

If you're in the D.C. area and are interested in Scottish Fiddle, there's no better place to go than the Washington Conservatory of Music, where Elke Baker, my instrucor, teaches.

For the Irish flute, try the Irish Flute Guide Home Page.

Chiff and Fipple has a lot of good information for the tinwhistle. Another good source is Whistletutor.com, run by Sean Cunningham, the former flautist, whistler, and piper for SixMileBridge.  Here's another whistle instruction site, maintained by the McTeggart Irish Dance schoo. And don't forget The Sessioneer, which maintains a tinwhistle tutor as well.

For those interested in Celtic Fingerstyle Guitar, here's a page for you.

produces online lessons for whistle, Uilleann pipes, flute, Irish fiddle, bodhrán, accordian, and banjo.

For information on the Irish Bouzouki, try Han's Irish Bouzouki page.  

For information about the Cittern, especially its early roots, try the Renaissance Cittern Page.

Music Notation:

Increasingly, folk musicians are using a music format called abc, which allows notation of music in ASCII text format, making it easy to send tunes through email, and keep large libraries of tunes on very little disk space.  I use this format for most of my music storage.

The abc homepage - maintained by Chris Walshaw, creator of the format.  Also includes lots of abc-related links, including a tutorial.

The Barfly home page - Perhaps the best abc reader I've seen, Phil Taylor's shareware software Barfly is only for the Mac, for now.

This site also has some abc-friendly utilities.
The CERL Sound Group makes Lime, another useful piece of music notation software for PC and Mac.

Tune & Song Collections:

The abc homepage tune collections section is a good source for files with numerous tunes.

The abc tune finder - a search engine maintained by John Chambers that scours the web for tunes in abc format.

Ceolas is a very useful Celtic music resource, and they maintain a tune archive here.

Both The Session and The Sessioneer maintain great tune archives, mostly of Irish music. Also you can check out Mal & Jo's Home Page for more. Or Bruce Olson. And there's Paul Slater's site. Or  . Or another site here. Or here.

The Pub Scouts, a large Ceilidh band from Chico, CA, maintaines tune archives as well.

Richard Robinson's Tunebook is a great source for folk tunes from all over Europe. So does Heinrik Norbeck.

Kevin McAlea also keeps some tune manuscripts.

Some free sheet music, for any number of genres, is available at Musica Viva.

Unicorn Limited prints sheet music and books on any number of Celtic, Scottish, and Viking topics.

Cranford Publications specializes in fiddle music from Cape Breton, Ireland, and Scotland.
They also have released some tunes in abc format from the books they publish.

For Celtic songs, one place to look is the Celtic Lyrics site. Here's another source for traditional Irish songs (the main page is in Gaelic...).  

The Cantaria is an excellent resource for Celtic songs.

Contemplations from the Marianas Trench is another great site for the folk music of Britain, Ireland, and America.

If you're looking for traditional Scottish songs in MIDI with lyrics, look here. Or here. Or here. Or here.

Gaelic Resources and Dictionaries:

MacBain's etymological dictionary of (Scottish) Gaelic.

A more universal Gaelic dictionary search engine, including Irish, Gallic, and Manx dictionaries.
Gaelic Languages Info.

Gaelic and Gaelic Cultures.

The Celtic Names of the British Isles.

Ireland First has Gaelic lessons, along with a lot of other information.

Also, Language Quest sells a Gaelic tutor package called Irish Now!

General Music Theory:

For a simple primer on music theory, try Gary Ewer's Easy Music Theory website.

Here are another couple of sites on musical modes, which come up a lot in Celtic music: Site 1 Site 2 Site 3

Also useful is Thomas Hightower's The Creation of the Musical Scales.

And how about the Anatomy of the Octave?

For those of you looking for a chord generator for fretted instruments, try this site.

The page background is the Walker Dress tartan, registered by Robert Walker Hawks of Tennessee in 1991. Despite the name, the dress tartan is mainly worn during performance of Highland Dance. It's mainly characterized by the substution of some of the field by white. I've had to mute the tartan somewhat to make it possible to read text on it!

Made on a Mac.

Last Updated 17 May 2005, 5:18 PM ET