I sing like a girl and that's awesome.

the filleadh abhaile project

filleadh abhaile = to get back home

Hi, world. My name’s Thomas Alaan. I’m a musician, singer, teacher, conductor, and director. I also recently returned to school to earn a Doctorate in Musical Arts in Vocal Performance at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. I plan to gradaute in 2021.

For my doctoral research, I decided to combine my recently acquired affection for folk music, my long-time love of early music, and my lifelong desire to connect with my Irish roots — but in a meaningful way that doesn’t just involve beer and St. Patricks’ Day. ☘ That’s why I’m calling this project “filleadh abhaile.”

I learned about traditional Irish singing (also called Sean-nós, or "old style") in early 2017 as I was getting into Scottish song. Sean-nós songs are stunning. They are usually unaccompanied, sung in Gaelic, and feature a highly ornamented melody. Unfortunately, classical singers don’t receive any training in this style of singing, no preparation in Gaelic or Irish ornamentation, and if you live in the United States you really have to go looking for information about the style. So, I’d like to help change that and make it more accessible — meaning ‘easier to be able to find, listen to, learn about, and perform’ — to classical singers and people in North America. But in order to do all that, I need to work on myself first!

I’ll be reading, listening, and studying traditional Irish music in general and Sean-nós specifically. I’ll document my research on this website so others can benefit from what I’ve found. I’ll also share some of the more humbling moments, like learning Gaelic and tin-whistle, for a good laugh with everyone.

I hope this work will help me interact and learn from the global Irish community.


Bibliography + Reflections

Looking for scholarship on traditional Irish singing, Sean-nós style, Irish songs, or ornamentation? Yeah, so am I. Here’s a list of articles, books, and dissertations I’ve found about all those topics and more. Read more →


Scholarship can be thick sometimes, or if it’s not it can sometimes just be a lot of information. Here I’ll throw up summaries of what I read and link to relevant media or articles. Coming soon…