History of Celtic Rock Music

Celtic rock is a music sub-genre that falls under a folk-rock. It is a form of Celtic fusion that mixes Celtic music themes and interpretation with rock music. This music genre has been extremely popular since the 1970s, and it is quite noticeable that Celtic rock has been a vital foundation of the successful mainstream Celtic bands and artists. Not only that, but the genre also helped to communicate pan-Celtic culture and national identities. In this article, we are going to know more about Celtic rock and its origins in different places.

What is Celtic Rock?

Celtic rock is kind of a combination of Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Breton, and Welsch musical form that is mixed with rock music. In order to achieve the Celtic rock sound, you need to play traditional music such as reels, ballads, and jigs with rock music. Aside from that, it would be best if you also used some conventional Celtic instruments like the tin whistle, fiddle, Celtic harp, concertina, accordion, bodhran, uilleann pipes, and the bagpipes to traditional rock formats. The use of the term Celtic in general and as a musical genre is somehow unclear. This is because the name Celtic rock does not mean that there is a unified Celtic musical culture between Celtic nations.

Origin of Celtic Rock in Ireland 

Initially, it was in Ireland where the Celtic rock was first clearly evident. This is because musicians there attempted to use electronic and traditional music to their songs. And towards the end of the 1960s, Ireland’s music scene witnessed the flourishing folk music tradition along with a growing pop and blues scene, hence marked the start for Irish rock. Probably the most successful artist from the Irish Celtic rock music scene was the band named Thin Lizzy. They were formed in 1969, and their first two albums were evidently influenced by Irish music. In fact, their first single entitled Whisky in the Jar was a rock version of a traditional Irish song.

On the other hand, the Irish band called Horslips was the first group to have been tagged as Celtic rock. This is because they produced songs that included Irish and Celtic music and instrumentation.

Celtic Music in Scotland 

During the 1960s, there are already essential links between Irish and Scottish music. This is because Irish bands such as The Chieftains were touring with the native artists in Scotland. The adoption of folk-rock became evident in the Scottish music scene when the groups such as JSD Band and Spencer’s Feat produced folk-rock songs. And in 1974, the group named Five Hand Reel became one of the most successful groups in the Celtic rock music scene in Scotland. One of the most iconic and commercially successful Celtic rock acts in Scotland would probably be the band called Big Country. They also incorporated the traditional Scottish music into their songs. Aside from their songs, Scottish rock folk bands are also known for their folk rock outfits and their bagpipes.

Influence of Celtic Rock Music

Unlike the England folk rock music, which after its initial mainstream recognition has decreased into being a sub-cultural soundtrack, several Celtic nations and communities remained to take the lead of the musical production. The first wave of Celtic rock in Ireland provided a basis for several Irish bands such as U2 and Pogues to receive international success. Pogues made the tradition of Celtic music in a new context while U2 made it for a distinctive but mainstream vibe.

On the other hand, Scotland saw a little delay while Celtic rock culture developed. Bands such as Runrig were able to achieve international success under this genre of music. While artists Brian McCombe of The Brian McCombe band became known as one o the outstanding voices in Celtic rock.