Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Guest Blog: Culture of Pub Music/Ariel Pisturino

on March 23, 2022
(Dublin pub musicians. Photo by Jeremy King, Flickr.)
Culture of Pub Music

by Ariel Pisturino

In 2019, I spent a few days in Dublin, Ireland, exploring the city with my partner. Ireland is a magical place, full of history and folklore. One night, we were out and about and it started to drizzle, as it does in that part of the world. Looking around for a place to duck into, we started to hear some raucous music. We stuffed ourselves into this little pub. It was PACKED with wall-to-wall people, and everyone’s attention was on the group of musicians playing traditional Irish music on traditional instruments. It was such fun and a different experience from being in America. It got me wondering about the culture of Irish music.

Traditional Irish music began as an oral tradition, with generations learning by ear and passing it down. It’s a tradition that still exists today. Irish music originated with the Celts about 2,000 years ago. The Celts were influenced by music from the East. It is even thought that the traditional Irish harp originated in Egypt. The harp was the most popular instrument and harpists were employed to compose music for noble people. When invaders came to Ireland in the early 1600’s, that forced people to flee the country. Harpists roamed through Europe, playing music wherever they could.

The most famous composer/harpist was Turlough O’Carolan (b.1670-d.1738). He was a blind harpist, composer, and singer. He traveled all over Ireland for 50 years, playing his music. He is considered Ireland’s national composer.

The main traditional instruments are fiddle, Celtic harp, Irish flute, penny whistle, uilleann pipes and bodhrán. More recently the Irish bouzouki, acoustic guitar, mandolin and tenor banjo have found their way into the playing of traditional music.

Irish pub songs are part of a tradition of storytelling by the fireside. People used to visit their neighbours, friends and relatives in the evenings after work or on a Sunday after mass, sit with them by the fireside, and share stories. In between the stories there would be songs, usually unaccompanied.

There was a big revival of pub music during the 1960’s with popular bands singing traditional Irish music, usually accompanied by guitar. (Think: The Chieftains.) In the 1970’s, local singers started forming singing clubs to focus on the traditional songs. One of the first singing sessions was hosted in Dublin during the 1980’s. These sessions became more regular and popular amongst pubs to host these groups, and that’s how pub music evolved into what we experience today.

Previously published in the unSUNg Concerts Newsletter, March 17, 2022

Ariel Pisturino graduated from the Thornton School of Music at USC with a Masters in Vocal Music. She teaches part-time at three different colleges and universities, privately in her own music studio, and performs with various opera companies and vocal groups in the Los Angeles area. She is the Curator and Artistic Director of the unSUNg Concert Series, which is dedicated to reviving previously-composed, forgotten vocal music and sponsoring new composers and young vocal artists.

Ariel Pisturino as Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore:

Ariel also does a lot of church singing and concerts:

unSUNg Concert Series: http://www.unsungconcerts.com

Ariel’s current project: Musical Director for the student production of Working!:

Find Ariel on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Ariel Pisturino: http://www.arielpisturino.com


Dawn Pisturino

March 23, 2022

Copyright 2022 Ariel Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


16 responses to “Guest Blog: Culture of Pub Music/Ariel Pisturino

  1. Timothy Price says:

    Pub crawling is different in Europe than in the USA. Nice post by Ariel. We used to frequent the Irish pubs in Madrid, Spain. Celtic music was all the rage when we lived in Madrid. Ariel is beautiful and has a beautiful voice. I wish her much success with “Working”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Timothy! It must have been wonderful living in Madrid. That’s exactly the sort of thing she would enjoy doing. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Timothy Price says:

        During our four years in Madrid we saw over 300 concerts of all types of music. One time we were out exploring Extremadura in western Spain, which is very sparse. We stopped at a village with an old castle for the night. We got a room at a pensione, and the owners asked us if we wanted to go to the concert in the castle. Of course we did. The concert was by a Puruvian orchestra and chorale. The concert was fantastic as were the acoustics in the old castle. At the end of the concert I asked the director how they ended up playing in the middle of nowhere. He said the Spanish government had a program where they paid for groups to go to rural areas and perform.

        We saw Celia Cruz with Oscar de Leon in Leon not long before Celia died. We saw the Chieftans more than once. Carlos Nuñez a few times, Celtos Cortos several times, and there was a local group called LaBanda who played Celtic Rock that we followed pretty regularly. This post will give you and idea of the music scene we discovered in Madrid: https://wp.me/p1yQyy-2t5.

        Liked by 1 person

      • What a fantastic experience, Timothy! Priceless and unforgettable. Thank you for sharing.


  2. utahan15 says:

    cor unum. whiskey in my coffee. something called a chiquet

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michele Lee says:

    Such a rich share, Dawn! How wonderful that you were able to visit Dublin. I enjoyed learning more about the history of Irish music. I am enamored by their Sunday social tradition. Ariel is so talented! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. elvira797mx says:

    Amazing post! Thank’s dear Dawn for share it! Irish Pub sound great and beautiful voive of Ariel Pisturino. Have a wonderful time!
    Keep well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. kvbclarke says:

    Irish pub music is at the heart of the culture of Ireland. Thanks for this.
    Ariel, your voice is exquicite1

    Liked by 1 person

  6. balladeer says:

    So it’s a talented family!

    Liked by 1 person

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