Alan Stivell – “Plijadur Ha Displijadur”.

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Today I chose to share with you this short, solo harp piece played by the Breton Celtic harpist Alan Stivell, which I think is a traditional tune. I only know that it originates from Brittany, but since I can’t speak Breton, I don’t even know what its title means, and don’t know anything else about it. Still, it sounds really nice to me.

Lynn Saoirse – “The Seas Are Deep”.

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I’ve shared with you quite a few track from the Irish Celtic harpist Lynn Saoirse, specifically from her album called The Seas Are Deep, with music composed by Turlough O’Carolan. Today I thought we’d listen to the title track, which I absolutely love for its melancholic and slightly dark feel.

Delyth Evans – “Yr Hen Don/Y Corgi Bach” (The Old Wave/The Little Corgi).

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For today, I chose to share with you a set of two (I think traditional) tunes played on the Celtic harp by Delyth Evans, currently known as Delyth Jenkins. I find both of them really nice.

Gwenan Gibbard – “Dod Dy Law” (Place Your Hand).

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At the beginnings of my blog, one of the songs I shared with you was

Dod Dy Law

beautifully sung acapella by Gwilym Bowen Rhys, who’s of course one of my faza people. And then I think I also shared it sung by SiΓ’n James. I had very little idea about Welsh then, and didn’t know what the word “dod” was supposed to mean in this context, but now I know it means to put or place. Since then, I’ve also become familiar with Ffion from the Foxglove Trio, who has a blog where she writes about Welsh folk songs, and which I often find very useful. And she wrote

a post about this song.

It’s thanks to her that I finally learned what this song is about and I agree that it’s one of the saddest Welsh songs of those I’ve heard.

As it’s quite easy to figure out from the lyrics, the lyrical subject is addressing their former lover, by whom their heart has been broken.

The translated lyrics below are taken from Ffion’s website, who in turn got them from the website of Gwenan Gibbard, and they’ve been translated by Dafydd Ifan.

 

Place your hand, lest you believe,

On my breast, without hurting me,

If you listen, you may hear

The sound of my little heart breaking.

Oh my dearest, take a reed

And hold it at both ends,

Break it in half

Just as you broke my heart.

Heavy the lead, heavy the stones,

Heavy is the heart of all lonely people,

Heaviest of all, twixt sun and moon,

Is bidding farewell where there is love.

Nansi Richards – “Codiad yr Ehedydd” (Rising of the Lark).

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It feels quite late here for tunes like this, as it’s almost noon, but I still decided to share with you this beautiful piece performed by late Nansi Richards aka Telynores Maldwyn. It was composed by Dafydd Owen, aka Dafydd y Garreg Wen, also a Welsh harpist, who simply heard a lark singing one morning and got inspired to compose this. I’ve also seen that lyrics to this song exist, but all versions I’ve heard so far are instrumental.

Nadia Birkenstock – “Douce Merveille” (Sweet wonder).

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A while ago I shared with you one of Turlough O’Carolan’s tunes played by this German Celtic harpist and singer, and today I thought I’d share her own composition, which is really nice. I don’t speak French myself but its title seems to mean Sweet Wonder, or something along these lines.

Inge Frimout-Hei – “Mont-Saint-Michel By Night”.

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Today I have for you just a short but beautiful harp piece from a harpist whose music I’ve never shared before on here yet. I believe she’s from the Netherlands. It comes from the album called Mont-Saint-Michel which seems to be entirely inspired by this place.

Delyth Jenkins & Angharad Jenkins – “Can y Bachgen Main/Ebenezer” (Song of the Slender Lad/Ebenezer).

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For today I decided to share with you a set of pieces from this great Welsh mother-daughter, harp-fiddle duo, also collectively known as DNA. I like their arrangement of these tunes very much, I like their arrangements in general. The first one is called “Can Y Bachgen Main”, also known simply as “Y Bachgen Main”, and it does originally have lyrics. It’s about a boy who is walking in the forest when he hears two women talking with each other. As it happens, they turn out to be his lover and her mother arguing. The mother tries to persuade the girl that she should find herself a wealthy husband and that she’s going to find her the right match, but she disagrees and says she’s happy with the boy with whom she is. She emphasises that even if she would be offered all the riches in the world she’d stick to him anyway. That really pisses the mummy, who says she’ll have to sleep on a bed of torns if she doesn’t change her mind. Then we can assume that the girl eventually did what she wanted, as we hear that the girl who sleeps in the lad’s arms is happy, but then in the next verse he goes off to sea, and we don’t even know why. Perhaps he couldn’t deal with the mother-in-law.

The second tune, “Ebenezer” is a hymn, it’s alternate name being Ton-y-Botel (Tune From the Bottle), which I think is a very funny name for a hymn, but it is called so for a very simple reason, namely that it is said to have been found in a bottle along the Welsh coast. It was composed by Thomas John Williams.

Song of the day (17th June) – Nadia Birkenstock – “Carolan’s Farewell To Music”.

Hi to all you lovely people after a bit of a break! πŸ™‚

I was on a trip to Masuria with my family, hence there were no posts from me for a while. Among all the amazing harpists I love whose music I’ve introduced to you on here, never before have I shared anything from Nadia Birkenstock, so now is the time. Nadia Birkenstock is a Celtic harpist as well as singer from Germany, but known in Celtic music circles around the world. I’ve been aware of her music for many years but only recently started listening to her music a lot more. She learned to play harp at a young age but received formal training later in the US, from, among others, the American Celtic harpist Kim Robertson, whose one piece I’ve shared on this blog as well. She plays a lot of traditional Celtic music but also composes her own material.

This particular tune is a traditional one. Last year I have already shared with you a tune called

Farewell To Music by Celia Briar,

and said how I think it’s very depressing and wondered why such title. Then months later I decided to broaden my knowledge about Turlough O’Carolan a bit. I always found him very interesting but decided I really want to get to know him a bit better than just the basics. What I learned has interested me further and now I’m looking for some books about his life and also music. Over that period of time, I finally learned why such a depressing title of Celia Briar’s tune, as it is the name of the last composition of O’Carolan, that he played shortly before his death. He could feel that his life was about to end, and thus decided to go to the home one of his patrons, the one with whom he had a very close relationship – Mrs. McDermott Roe – and played this song while there. That was where he later died, surrounded by friends.

Gwenan Gibbard – “Lliw Gwyn Rhosyn Yr Haf” (White Colour Of A Summer Rose).

Today, I want to share with you another version of a traditional song that I previously shared with you on here, this time a more acoustic one from the harpist Gwenan Gibbard. I think this is the first tune by her that I’m sharing where she’s also singing. For more background information about this song, you can click the link below, where I shared the

version by the band Pendevig,

with one of my faza peeps – Gwilym Bowen Rhys – and Bethan Rhiannon as vocalists.

While obviously I really like both versions or otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing them here, I think I lean more towards the Pendevig one, as, in my opinion, it shows its spirit better, and also, well, fazas are fazas, Gwilym rules! But the big pluses of Gwenan Gibbard’s interpretation are that it’s more traditional, and, of course, features the harp.

Lynn Saoirse – “Mrs. Maxwell and Mrs. Nugent”.

And, for today, I picked for you guys a piece played by Lynn Saoirse, from her album The Seas Are Deep, which features compositions by Irish Celtic harper Turlough O’Carolan. As I’ve already written on here before, what was characteristic to Turlough O’Carolan’s music was that he composed a lot of tunes in honour of his patrons, as a way of showing his gratitude. That’s what we can find on this Lynn Saoirse’s album. This is a piece which, as you can figure out from the title, is dedicated to the two mentioned ladies. Unfortunately I don’t know who they were in his life, but he has composed multiple pieces for people with the surname Nugent, so I guess all we can assume is that they must have been some family he knew, whereas there is more than one piece dedicated to Mrs. Maxwell, so she must have been an important person in his life. Seeing all those people’s names though and hearing the music he composed for them, I’d really like to know a bit more about them to have a clearer picture of things.

Ailie Robertson – “Islay Dawn”.

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Today I have an instrumental folk piece from Scotland for you, from Ailie Robertson, one of the harpists whose music I’ve shared on here before several times. Islay is one of the southern Inner Hebrides on the West coast of Scotland, and it seems to be particularly well known for the Scotch whisky that is produced there.

Song of the day (4th June) – Maire Brennan – “Banrion” (Queen).

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Hi people! πŸ™‚

As much as I feel rather ambivalent about Maire/Moya/Mary Brennan/Ni Bhraonain’s vocal, whether with Clannad or solo, I think I’ve already mentioned that I always love her instrumental, harp-driven music and it really resonates withh me. Here’s one of such solo pieces, from her album “Canvas”. It really reminds me of her sister’s (Enya) Watermark.

Gwen MΓ iri – “Cyn Gwawr” (Before Dawn).

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It’s late afternoon here, so maybe this piece is not the most timely, but I was listening to it today and thought this is what I’d like to share with you today, because it’s absolutely beautiful. As all Gwen MΓ iri’s music. If you don’t know or don’t remember who Gwen MΓ iri is, although I have shared one piece by her before, she’s a Welsh harpist and singer who was raised in Scotland and who can speak fluently both Welsh and Scottish Gaelic.

Delyth Jenkins – “Mwynder Maldwyn” (The Gentleness of Montgomeryshire).

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Let’s listen to Delythh Jenkins today! I’ve shared some of her music before, solo, with her daughter Angharad, and a project she was a part of years ago called Aberjaber. Today I’m sharing a piece from one of her solo albums.

The Maldwyn (or Moontgomeryshire) in the title is a historical county in mid-Wales which now is a part of Powys. If you’re familiar with Nansi Richards, either from my blog where I’ve shared some of her music, or from wherever else, her bardic name was Telynores Maldwyn, or the Montgomery Harpist, because that’s where she lived. Delyth Jenkins also originates from there, and, curiously, I’ve read that both Nansi Richards and Delyth Jenkins were born in the same place – Oswestry in England, aka the Welshest town in England.

Mwynder Maldwyn is a sort of saying in Welsh, which could be translated as the gentleness of Maldwyn but I guess mwynder doesn’t really mean literally the same thing as gentleness in English. In any case, it’s used in reference to the natural beauty of the area, as well as the traits of the people.

I’ve never been to Montgomeryshire, nor even to Wales, but if I was to form some sort of an opinion about the place from this tune, it must be really extremely beautiful and I’d love to see it, even though nothing can beat Gwynedd for me. πŸ˜€

Gwenan Gibbard – “Hufen Y Cwrw Melyn” (Cream Of The Brown Ale).

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Today I have an interesting little piece of Welsh folk music for you. Interesting in that, apparently it is known from Startrek, because of Scotty singing some version of it in that movie! Don’t know which one, and can’t confirm it as I never watched it, but I think it’s really interesting that a piece like this has gotten a bit of attention in the mainstream.

The version I’m sharing with you is instrumental. It is a slip jig (that’s how they call Celtic folk tunes composed in this tempo and style and slip jig is also one of the Irish traditional dances) composed by the 18th-century Welsh blind harpist Richard Roberts. It’s interesting how the Celtic area had so many blind artists around that time – be it harpists or poets – who have contributed to what we now know as folk/traditional music. Think Turlough o’Carolan (the very famous Irish harper) or Richard Williams aka Dark Dick, who wrote

“Lliw Gwyn, Rhosyn Yr Haf”

whom I both mentioned on my blog before.

I find the title of this piece confusing. It’s literal translation would be “Cream of The Yellow Beer” which makes little sense, at least to me, I do admit though that I know nothing about beer, maybe some beer geek would see more sense in this. But I found out that it’s translated to English just as in the title. Still, don’t know if this is the name of some English version of this or indeed how it should be translated. In Welsh it’s also known as “Cwrw Da” (A Good Beer), so whatever beer it is, I guess we can safely assume at least that one thing about it, although I could argue that every beer is equally yucky, perhaps I just haven’t been lucky enough to try a good one so far.

The version I chose to share with you comes from Gwenan Gibbard, who is already known on this blog since I share her music quite regularly.