British Isles

The instruments of the British Isles

Folk music is often combined with dance, so these are usually dance as well as musical forms.

Here are some examples of common forms:

  • jig - a lively dance in compound time (usually 6/8 or 9/8)
  • reel - also lively, but in simple time (usually 2/4 or 4/4)
  • hornpipe - usually in simple time (often 4/4), but uses swing rhythms
  • polkas and waltzes - usually for paired dancing (2/4 and 3/4)
  • ceili (Ireland) or ceilidh (Scotland) - lively social dance events using folk music

Folk music is passed on through oral tradition and often accompanies social events, (such as dances or weddings), social gatherings (such as the pub or tavern) or as part of work songs (such as sea shanties).

A jig and reels played in the Young Traditional Musician competition