For today, I decided on another piece from Lavinia Meijer, but this time it’s her original composition. It comes from her album titled Are You Still Somewhere? Which contains a lot of her original works, but also some of other composers, including Saman by Ólafur Arnalds which I shared earlier this month in her interpretation.
In the most recent question of the day post, where I asked you guys what you’re hearing, I mentioned that I was hearing Sen Segur’s EP Sudd Sudd Sudd, as I was revisiting it after several years and enjoying it a lot as I had really good memories with this EP from when I first heard it at the beginning of my Welsh language journey. So I figured I’d actually share something from it. Sen Segur were a band from Penmachno in Conwy, Wales, which existed in early 2010’s and made psychedelic rock music, or psychedelic pop-rock if you will, most of it in Welsh. Despite the band lasted for only a couple of years, and I discovered it later on, as far as I’m aware they enjoyed quite positive reception on the Welsh-language music scene. The former members of this group are still active in other musical acts, all of which I like as well: George Amor (the bassist) is part of Omaloma,, Ben Ellis (the guitarist and vocalist) performs with Phalcons, whereas Gethin Davies (the drummer) has a solo project called Lastigband.
Earlier this month, I shared Lavinia Meijer’s two other pieces, including her rendition of Ólafur Arnalds’ Saman. But I thought that today I’d like to share yet another rendition of Arnalds’ music played by Lavinia on the harp, as I really like the way it sounds on the harp.
For today, I chose this folksy children’s song from the AMerican Celtic group Golden Bough. I’ve already shared a couple instrumental pieces by them, and some music by one of their members Margie Butler, for whose music I have a strong sentiment because my Mum bought me a tape of her music back when my Celtic interests were just starting to grow. This song was written by Golden Bough’s Paul Espinoza. I really like how this whole garden thing is a metaphor for your own garden of dreams, being a daydreamer with a fairly fecund Brainlife it really appeals to me.
For today, I’d like to share with you a song from another harpist, whose music I hadn’t yet shared on here before. Christy-Lyn lives in Cape Town, and aside from being a harpist and singer she also teaches other people how to play the harp and generally popularises the instrument, through her youTube channel Learning the Harp. This song comes from her album Hope Isn’t Far Away, and was composed by another harpist – The Hip Harpist as she is known, i.e. Deborah Henson Conant – in memory of her mother’s voice.
Today I’d like to share with you a song by a singer whom I first heard only last Friday, despite she seems to have been a thing for a long time. Maybe it’s because I guess I’m generally less familiar with American Celtic music scene vs Irish or British. Amelia Hogan is an Irish American from San Francisco, though she also has Scottish and British ancestry, and she has been drawn to Sean-Nos singing and to Celtic music in general since a very young age. This song comes from her debut solo album Transplants. I’ve already shared two versions of this song one by Órla Fallon and the other by Eilis Kennedy. I really like it because it reminds me of our Sofi, who liked the funny lilting chorus when she was a toddler. 😀
Today I want to share with you the opening track from Scottish harpist Rachel Hair’s album THe Lucky Smile. It is a traditional tune, but in Rachel’s arrangement and with the help of her accompanying musicians it has an interesting jazzy feel to it. She is accompanied by guitarist Paul Tracey, keyboardist Angus Lyons, bassist Andy Sharkey and drummer Scott MacKay.
Today, I’d like to share with you this short piece played by Italian harpist Floraleda Sacchi, written by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. He created music for all kinds of media, and this composition is part of the soundtrack to the famous film about Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything (which by the way is one of our Sofi’s favourite movies).
For today I have a song by Clannad for you, which you may know even if you’re not a big Clannad fan because it is the theme song of the movie Braveheart. Below is the translation of the Irish lyrics that I found here.
For today, I decided to share with you the first of Erik Satie’s Gnossiennes played by the Korean-Dutch harpist Lavinia Meijer. I’ve already shared this same Gnossienne in the past, in the interpretation of Floraleda Sacchi, and in that post I shared more about Gnossiennes in general.
For today, I have for you a song by Child of Mind, which is, or perhaps was (we really haven’t heard anything new from him in quite a while so no idea if he intends to ever come back) the name of a solo musical project of Declan Galbraith, who has been a singer since age 10. It’s a live recording from Shenzhen in China, and I think it sounds really good. Way better and more ambitious both musically and lyrically, in my humble opinion, than anything he did as a kid and teen (though given that he was one of my faza peeps during my own teenage years I have a lot of sentiment for his earlier three albums too). Apparently there’s a lot of people who liked him back then and dislike the direction in which he and his music have gone as Child of Mind, but I think it’s only natural and healthy for kids to grow into adults, and for artists to develop over time as well, and also I have a feeling that there is a lot more of him in Child of Mind than in his earlier stuff, considering that he writes his own songs as Child of Mind, and I always tend to prefer music in which people put a lot of themselves into it as it shows better what they’re like as individuals.
For today’s song of the day, I chose a beautiful and tragic medieval ballad. I guess every single country or culture has a similar famous tragic love story. I first heard Bendik og Årolilja back when I was just starting to acquaint myself with Scandinavian and Nordic folk music, and back then I happened to be quite a lot into folk metal, largely thanks to the influence of my late friend Jacek from Helsinki, so the first version of this song was by Gåte. In case you’re curious of Gåte I actually posted one song by them WAAY back in the beginnings of my blog, specifically, it was Inga Litimor.
But back when I heard their Bendik og Årolilja, and then a bit later Bukkene Bruse’s version, the only Norwegian I understood was through Swedish, and since this song is in quite archaic language, I didn’t really understand much at all, I just knew that it’s some sad medieval ballad and suspected that it had to do with tragic love and someone’s death or something like that, and not much more. I first heard Hirundo Maris’ version in December last year, so I’d already been learning Norwegian for a while by then, but still my understanding of it was very patchy. It was thanks to Balladspot, a blog about Scandinavian ballads, that I’ve finally learned what exactly the plot line of this song is and if you’re interested in Norwegian folk music as much as I am, I highly recommend reading that post because it includes a few different versions of this ballad, including this one and one by Kirsten Bråten Berg, whose one song I’ve even shared on here in the past, but hadn’t heard her version of Bendik og Årolilja before.
In the ballad, Bendik leaves home in search for a wife and subsequently falls deeply in love with Årolilja – daughter of a Danish king. – However, the king is not favourably inclined towards Bendik as his daughter’s future husband, or perhaps doesn’t want her to be married at all, because we are told that he built some sort of mysterious golden track, which is not to be treaded by anyone or else they will die. Supposedly, this track leads to where Årolilja lives and probably is a symbolic representation of Årolilja herself. Undeterred by that, Bendik embarks on this forbidden journey. He hunts during the day and visits Årolilja each night. Their happiness doesn’t last long though, because the king soon finds out about them through his young servant boy, which means death to Bendik. He is imprisoned and tied up with lots of ropes, which he breaks free from easily though. Thus, the same young boy who previously spied on young lovers, tells the king to tie him up with Årolilja’s hair. Those bonds indeed prove unbreakable for Bendik, as he says he’d rather remain inprisoned than break one of his beloved’s hair. Then we have all kinds of living creatures who ask the king to have mercy for Bendik, from birds and fish and trees to Årolilja herself and even her mother the queen who reminds him that he had promised to fulfil any request that she makes, but the king rejects all their pleas. Bendik is killed in the least appropriate place possible – beside the church – and soon after that Årolilja dies from sorrow. – It is only then, when the king finds out about his daughter’s death, that he finally regrets his actions. We are also told that on the graves of Bendik and Årolilja lilies started to bloom, which I think must be related to Årolilja’s name, because lilje and Lilja mean lily in modern Norwegian and Swedish respectively. As a name nerd I do have to add that I think the name Årolilja is really interesting and that it’s sad it’s not actually in use in Norway these days. 🙂
I’ve already shared a couple songs by Hirundo Maris in the last few months so I don’t think I need to introduce them much, but for those who are unfamiliar with them, this is an early music group founded by Catalan soprano and harpist Arianna Savall and Norwegian singer Peter Udland Johansen.
For today, I’d like to share with you a song from a Scottish group that I discovered only last month and have been really enjoying their music since. They are an all-female band singing in Scottish Gaelic, whose goal is to popularise the work of female Gàidhlig bards and composers. Sian means “storm” or “the elements” in Scottish Gaelic, and the group consists of Eilidh Cormack, Ellen MacDonald and Ceitlin Lilidh Russell Smith. They are accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Innes White who has also collaborated with a lot of other Scottish folk musicians. All three women clearly care a lot about their native language, its music and its presence in the media. Eilidh hails from the Isle of Skye. She was Gaelic Singer of the year in 2018, has sung at Celtic Connections, and alongside many other Scottish musicians she contributed to the soundtrack to an Xbox game called The Bard’s Tale IV. Ellen, who is originally from Inverness, and besides Sian she also performs with another Scottish folk group – Dàimh. – She has also collaborated with Niteworks – a band which combines Scottish Gaelic lyrics and traditional instruments with more electronic vibes. – SHe has also voiced various characters in Gaelic cartoons, such as Alvin of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Ceitlin Lilidh has performed all over the world as an ambassador to Gaelic song, and has taken part in numerous festivals.
This is the opening track from their self-titled album released in 2020.
Earlier this month, I’ve shared with you a piece called It Feels Like Floating by Mary Lattimore. Since then, I have to say that her music has further grown on me. Especially this piece that I want to share with you today. I really like all the weird and wonderful things she’s doing with her harp here. This piece also feels like floating, and I tend to like floating pieces. I like how elaborate it is as well as the very strong summery vibe I get from it. Its title refers of course to the AMerican convenience stores Wawa, which Mary Lattimore is apparently quite fond of.
Let’s listen to the song that I have picked for yesterday, but didn’t manage to share in time. I decided on this very soothing lullaby from Órla Fallon’s album of the same title, which she released in 2012. I generally love a good lullaby, and this album is full of them. This isn’t the first lullaby Fromm that album that I’m sharing on here.
For today, I have for you a set of three Scottish tunes from harpist Rachel Hair’s and guitarist Ron Jappy’s collaborative album Sparks. All of these tunes are reels, and the first two are traditional, whereas Jamie Shearer’s was composed by Scottish fiddler and dancing master James Scott Fiddler.
For today, I’d like to share with you an extremely poignant and heartbreaking song. It’s really beautiful, despite its very dark theme, and there are a lot of amazing renditions of it, therefore I decided to share two of them in one post, and it’s possible that I’ll share some other versions of it in the future too, who knows. The first of these two versions is by Gwilym Bowen Rhys, from the first album of his Detholiad o Hen Faledi (Selection of Old Ballads) album series. This is the very first version of this song that I heard, and I love Gwilym’s expressive a capella interpretation of it very much. THe other is by Siwsan George, from her album Traditional Songs of Wales – Caneuon Traddodiadol Cymru. – I was introduced to Siwsan’s music earlier this year. She was from Rhondda and sang both as a soloist as well as part of a folk group called Mabsant. Siwsan was also a harpist. Sadly, she passed away in her forties due to cancer.
As we can read on Gwilym’s Bandcamp page,, this song tells the story of a poor girl called Jane Williams, from a village in Denbighshire called Cynwyd, who was raped at 23 and fell pregnant in 1868. Predictably, she was shamed and disdained by her community as a result, and eventually committed suicide by drowning herself in the river Dee. The lyrics were written by John Jones, also known under his bardic name of Llew o’r Wern, and set to a traditional tune called There’s Love Among the Roses.
I’ve taken the translation below from Gwilym’s website, where you can also find the original words in Cymraeg.
On the banks of the old river Dee A pure maiden sits Whispering quietly to herself “I’ve been left lonely Without a love or a friend in the world Nor a home to go to, the door of my father’s house is locked, tonight I am rejected. The finger of shame is after me Highlighting my weakneses And the tide of my life has turned And is buried under the waves. On the alter of lust I was sacrificed, Yes, I lost my virginity, And that’s the reason why I’m rejected tonight. You little trout that plays joyfully In the pure waters of the river, You have many friends And shelter from enemies You may live and die under the water With no one having to know you, Oh if I could only be like you I could die, and that would be the end. But my sorrowfull mind flies away To a world that’s yet to come, And you, my harsh traitor, remember, You must meet me there! I need only think of your name And living is too much for me. Oh, deep river, accept me, Your bed shall be my bed.” And the next morning she was found In the cold water of the river, With a piece of paper in her hand And on it, these words: “Dig me a grave in a lonely place, Don’t raise a stone or write an ephigy, To denote the place where lies the dust Of the rejected maiden.”
And for today, I chose another song from a Welsh artist whose music I’ve known for years, but somehow only came across this particular song recently. I’ve already shared one song by Casi Wyn, which she released under her other stage name Casi & The Blind Harpist, also both in Welsh and English, called Dyffryn/Rooted..
I Regular people on here know that when I go to sleep, I like to have some music or a radio station in one of my favourite languages playing quietly throughout the night so it keeps the things that I collectively call sensory anxiety, for lack of better terms, at bay. One night last month, I had some Welsh playlist playing on Spotify and then when the playlist finished other stuff was playing on autoplay as is typical with streaming services. I woke up for a little while in the middle of the night, or very early morning if you will, and heard this breathtakingly beautiful song. The perception of music in half-sleep mode, at least in my experience, is often kind of different and sort of heightened in a way I’d say, so given that this song is already stunning and otherworldly when listening to it fully awake, in that half-sleep state, I was seriously wondering if I woke up in some parallel universe for Cymrophiles or something happened to me in my sleep and I was having a near-death experience or something. So the title of this song is very accurate imho, although I’m not sure if “celestial beings” is the best English translation I could come up with, I mean “nefol” means “heavenly/celestial” and “nefolion” is plural so I had no better ideas. I really like Casi’s music in general, so just like with yesterday’s song, I was surprised to find out that she released it three years ago and I’d never heard it previously. I am sharing both language versions:
For yesterday’s overdue song of the day, I decided to share this beautiful rendition of Welsh folk tune Cob Malltraeth. It was very popular during the previous century in Anglesey where it originates from, but this is the first version of it that I heard and not very long at all. I’ve known about Beth Celyn ever since she released her debut EP in 2017, and have been rather vaguely familiar with Vrï thanks to Blas Folk Radio Cymru, but I’d never heard this song until like a week ago. I immediately found it very striking, and was very surprised to find out that it’s from an album that Vrï released in 2018 already – Tŷ Ein Tadau (House of Our Fathers) – , yet it was complete novelty to me.
Vrî is a Welsh folk trio consisting of Jordan Price Williams (cello and vocals), Aneirin Jones (fiddle and vocals) and Patrick Rimes (viola, fiddle and vocals). All three members of this group are very active musicians well-known on the Welsh folk music scene and have been part of other groups or projects as well.
I love everything about this song: the melody, Beth’s expressive vocals, the instrumental arrangements, and the lyrics kind of resonate with me too, as the lyrical subject appears to be a neurotic pro ruminator just like me and keeps fretting over something they have no real control over. And it’s definitely not like their fears are completely unfounded. The song is about the Malltraeth cob (Malltraeth is a little village in the southwest of Anglesey and I’ve already shared one other piece on here related to this place, played by Llio Rhydderch). The lyrical subject’s fears about it are definitely not unfounded. From what I’ve read, the original cob was built in the early 1800’s, but after a few years there was a storm which breached it in a few places and it was rebuilt in 1812. You can find out more about this song, along with the original lyrics and translation, on the website of Amgueddfa Cymru (Museum Wales).
If Malltraeth cob breaks, my mother will drown; I fear it in my heart ti–rai, twli wli I fear in my heart that I shall be the one to suffer. I can neither patch nor wash my shirt; I fear it in my heart, ti–rai, twli wli wli ei, I fear in my heart that I shall soon perish. But, thank heaven, the old lady was seen Safely taking refuge, ti–rai, twli wli wli ei, Safely taking refuge in the shelter of the rock.