Cornish Music

An Overview of Cornish Folk Music

Culture without language is dead. Culture without music is extinct. Luckily, a recent revival of Cornish language and music has given hope to the possibility of the continuation of a once declining culture. Before understanding Cornish culture and music, one must understand the umbrella under which it falls.

c1The Celts were a group of polytheistic people who inhabited Europe during the Pre-Christian Iron and Medieval Ages. Their society was based on class and kingship with kings ruling over tribes. People were classified as warriors, intellects, or workers. Tribal warfare was common and Celts prided themselves as being “head hunters”. Socially, Celtic men often preferred male lovers over female and females often took on male roles such as that of warrior. Traditional clothing consisted of wool or linen tunics accompanied by long sleeved shirts and pants. Additionally, unique ring necks and helmets named Torcs and Waterloos are a distinguishing feature of Celtic dress.

The term Celtic Music can be loosely interpreted as folk music coming from the Celtic nations of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Brittany. Traditional instruments include the fiddle, tin whistle, flute, violin, and pipes. The button accordion and concertina have recently been added to the arsenal of instruments.

c2Cornish Folk Music is music from the culturally Celtic nation of Cornwall. Cornwall is a costal county located in the most southwestern part of England. It’s composed of approximately 500,000 people ranking it the 2nd least populated county. English is the primary language followed by Cornish, which is spoke fluently by approximately 300 people. The region is well known for visual and musical arts. Cornwall has historical folk music tradition that dates back to early Celtic times and has survived to present day.
It’s most known for it’s unusual folk survivals and is home to a food and music festival in Newlyn. The festival is unique in that it offers fresh local fish with live music and cooking demonstrations. It’s also important to note that brass bands and American music are popular in Cornwall. A fun fact is that Roger Taylor, the lead drummer from the ultra popular band Queen, is from Cornwall.