Total Lyrics: 784
Like all traditional music, Irish folk music has changed slowly. Most folk songs are less than two hundred years old. One measure of its age is the language used. Modern Irish songs are written in English and Irish. Most of the oldest songs and tunes are rural in origin and come from the older Irish language tradition. Modern songs and tunes often come from cities and towns, Gaeltacht and English-speaking Ireland.
Unaccompanied vocals ar sean nós ("in the old style") are considered the ultimate expression of traditional singing. This is usually performed solo (very occasionally as a duet). Sean-nóssinging is highly ornamented and the voice is placed towards the top of the range. A true sean-nós singer will vary the melody of every verse, but not to the point of interfering with the words, which are considered to have as much importance as the melody. To the first-time listener, accustomed to pop and classical singers, sean-nós often sounds more "Arabic" or "Indian" than "Western".
Non-sean-nós traditional singing, even when accompaniment is used, uses patterns of ornamentation and melodic freedom derived from sean-nós singing, and, generally, a similar voice placement.
The term Caoineadh is an Irish language term which translates as crying/weeping. The Caoineadh-type song is therefore a lament song which is typified by lyrics which stress sorrow and pain. Traditionally, the Caoineadh song contained lyrics in which the singer lamented for Ireland after having being forced to emigrate due to political or financial reasons. The song may also lament the loss of a loved one (particularly a fair woman). Many Caoineadh songs have their roots/basis in The Troubles of Northern Ireland with particular reference to the presence of the British military during this period. Examples of Caoineadh songs include: Far Away in Australia, The Town I loved So Well and Four Green Fields.
Caoineadh singers were originally paid to lament for the departed at funerals, according to a number of Irish sources.