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Geantraighe, Goltraighe & Suantraighe

from Edward Bunting, Ancient Music of Ireland (Dublin 1840)

Irish geantraí spoken by Gráinne Yeats
Irish goltraí spoken by Gráinne Yeats
Irish suantraí spoken by Gráinne Yeats

Scottish Gaelic geantraighe spoken by Tony Dilworth
Scottish Gaelic goltraighe spoken by Tony Dilworth
Scottish Gaelic suantraighe spoken by Tony Dilworth

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Geantraighe ('in English characters' Geanttraidheacht) - Love - ('Explanation': Music of a graceful and expressive order)

Goltraighe ('in English characters' Gollttraidheacht) - Exciting sorrow ('Explanation': Melancholy music)

Suantraighe ('in English characters' Suanttraidheacht) - Soothing ('Explanation': Sleepy, composing strains)

Bunting's Gaelic spellings are correct for the Early Modern period: for the early (pre-1200) period, where these three kinds of music are often alluded to in the tales, the spellings are gentraige, goltraige, súantraige; for modern Irish geantraí, goltraí, suantraí. They are understood to be compounds of the nouns gean (gen), 'a smile, a laugh', gol, 'weeping', and suan, 'sleep', with traige, which has been interpreted as a noun meaning a musical 'mode' or 'way' (Ogam XVIII [1966]:326-329). Since the three words mainly occur as a triad in fiction, it is probably safest to treat the types of music they denote as fictional, rather than as having any historical importance as musicological 'types'.

These -traige words are, in a sense, abstract nouns, and the addition of the common abstract ending -acht in the 'English characters' would have little effect on the meaning. This addition is not well attested elsewhere.

Colm Ó Baoill 2002