John M. Long School of Music introduces new course

Pratiksha Joshi
Staff Writer

The Troy University World Music Program, a program within the John M. Long School of Music, has introduced a new course this semester: the Celtic Ensemble.

The Troy University World Music Program, a program within the John M. Long School of Music, has introduced a new course this semester: the Celtic Ensemble.
Titled MUS 1140 TZAA, this course is open to all students and faculty members alike and is directed by Jaime Hammack on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Smith Hall Room 201. There are currently about 10 members in the course.
Jamie Hammack, director of the ensemble, had played Irish music with a community ensemble in Tallahassee, Florida and in the Irish Ensemble at Florida State University.
This ensemble incorporates non-traditional instruments such as the whistle, harp, flute, harmonium, piano and mandolin to name a few.
Celtic music originated from the Ireland, Scotland and Wales, whose inhabitants known as Celts thus giving rise to the name “Celtic” and its origin dates back to the 1600s.
Although its classification is very broad, Celtic music is considered traditional music; it is passed down to generations by singing and listening to it. “That’s why we teach Celtic music aurally,” said Hammack.
“Jaime introduces the tune; she plays a little of it and the members with instruments copy the tune and the others hum along or sing it if the melody has lyrics,” said Bret Woods, director of the World Music Program, who also teaches Folk Music of the Americas.
The Celtic Ensemble plays traditional music like lullabies and festival songs with origins of different Celtic regions, namely Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Galicia (Spain), and Scandinavian nations. Celtic music usually encompassed music for regions where Celtic language is spoken. However, in Galicia, Spain, people speak a different language but the music they play has elements of the tune very similar to Celtic music. So, the classification of Celtic music and what it includes is not very distinct.
“I have always wanted to go to Ireland,” said Brittany Duris, a junior interpreting training major from Bainbridge, Georgia, who serves as the piano player for the ensemble.
“So, I thought what better way to immerse myself in the Irish culture than through their music,” said Duris.
“Celtic music is interesting as a category because it encompasses so many different distinct music like Irish music, Welsh music, Scottish music, music of Cape Breton, etc,” said Hammack.
“In the websites that play and record Irish music, I found that people would also insert tunes from Scotland and Isle of Man. What blew my mind was how many differences there were in the tunes.’’
The introduction of Celtic music in America is supposed to have happened when the Irish people moved to America during the potato famine, bringing with them their music. When people from Scotland to the east coast and surrounding islands of Canada, the Scottish music evolved into a different Celtic music, now known as music of Cape Breton.
This ensemble serves as the modification and expansion of the Irish Ensemble that was introduced in 2013.
“We have been trying to get better catalogue recognition for the World Music Program,” said Woods.
“In 2013, this world music program was kept under special topics courses; it wasn’t until 2015 it was updated to the World Music Ensemble.”
By the end of this semester, Hammack hopes to hold a public performance open to both students and members of the Troy community.

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