What Instruments Are Used In Traditional Irish Folk Music?

Posted on: 18 November 2015

Irish folk music has been a favorite among music lovers for many years. This type of folk music has a very distinct sound that is appreciated by people of all ages. A variety of musical instruments are used for playing traditional Irish folk songs. These are some of the different kinds of instruments that are played to create the sweet melodies of Irish folk music.


Accordions are commonly used when playing traditional Irish folk music. This instrument has two rows of buttons that are pressed while the accordion is squeezed open and shut to create music. The accordion can produce both high and low pitched sounds and is used to play both fast and slow melodies.


Fiddles are one of the popular instruments played in Irish folk songs. The fiddler is often the leader of the band in traditional Irish folk music. Normally, there is only one fiddle player, however, if a jam session is going on, there may be multiple fiddles being played.


Wooden flutes have been used for playing traditional Irish folk music for many years. This instrument produces a smooth, mellow tone that is greatly appreciated by Irish folk song enthusiasts. However, the type of flute that is played often depends on the venue the music is being played at.

When Irish folk music is being played by smaller bands or in local pubs, the wooden flute is more commonly used. Although, if the music is being played in large concert halls by Irish folk orchestras, it is more common to see a metal flute being played. The metal flute has a higher pitch that is more suitable for large orchestras that also include various stringed instruments.


The harp dates back many centuries as a political symbol of Ireland. Therefore, it is only natural that it is often used when playing traditional Irish folk music. The harp is a large instrument that is played by strumming the long, tight strings attached to the instrument to create a melody.

However, because the harp has a very unique sound of its own, it is more commonly played by soloists instead of being a part of a folk band. One or more harps may be played in large folk orchestra performances.

Uilleann Pipes 

The Uilleann pipes are another type of instrument that is often played to produce Irish folk music. While these are sometimes mistaken for Scottish bagpipes, they actually create a very mellow sound that blends with other Irish folk instruments very well.

Irish folk music is appreciated all over the world. Some Irish folk songs tell stories about the struggles of life many years ago and some are written simply to promote happiness for the listeners. With the variety of instruments that are used to play Irish folk music, the melodies can be slow, moderately fast or have a very upbeat tempo.