Enya – “Storms In Africa”.

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The song I’d like to show you today, actually has two parts, which is why this song is also known as Storms in Africa pt. 1. This first part is in Irish Gaelic, and the second one is in English. The inspiration for it has come from Nicky Ryan – Enya’s manager and producer – who came up with the title. He got inspired with the arpeggiator in the Juno 60 synth which Enya uses for a lot of her music and which is one of her favourites. They were playing around with it and he told Enya to compose something that would use this arpeggiator sound. And the lyrics of course come from Roma Ryan. Here’s the translation:

 

How far is it from…

How far is it from…

Walk through the storms.

Go through the storms.

How far is it from

the start of the storm?

How far is it from

the beginning to the end?

Take heart!

Walk through the storms.

Take heart

going through the storms!

A great journey.

Come through the storms.

A long Journey.

Look through the storms.

Enya – “If I Could Be Where You Are”.

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Apparently, this is one of Enya’s favourite songs from her album Amarantine. I think this is also one of her saddest songs ever. Which may be part of why it’s so beautiful and why it is also one of my favourites. I think it captures very well the feeling when you love and care about someone but don’t even know where they are, which must be an awful feeling to experience.

Sian James – “Cysga Di Fy Mhlentyn Tlws” (Sleep My Pretty Child).

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Since it’s already early evening here, I thought I’d share a lullaby with you, and I picked this beautiful Welsh one performed by Celtic harpist and singer Sian James, whose music I’ve already shared on my blog before. Here is the lyrics translation that I’ve found:

 

Sleep you now, my pretty child,

Sleep you now, my pretty child,

Sleep until the morning,

Sleep until the morning.

The door is closed, and safely locked,

Lullaby, my pretty child,

Sleep until the morning,

Sleep until the morning.

All the birds are sleeping too,

Lullaby, my little one,

Sleep until the morning,

Sleep until the morning.

The wooden horse is by your side,

Lullaby, oh darling mine,

Sleep until the morning,

Sleep until the morning.

2002 – “Cariad” (Love).

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So yesterday I wrote about how this group’s music very often sounds kind of sensorily creepy to me, but the song by them that I’m going to share with you today sounds anything but creepy. What drew my attention to it is that it’s quite obviously inspired by the Welsh language, and as it seems especially the Welsh concept of cwtch. This enigmatically looking word, as you’ll figure out from the song, is pronounced cootch, and if we wanted to say what it means in English, we’d say a hug or a cuddle, except it’s something more than that. The situation here is very similar as with the Welsh word hiraeth, which is usually translated as longing, but the real feeling behind it is a lot more difficult to convey through English. If I understand it correctly, cwtch is a particularly safe, yet unreserved and containing type of hug, one you really invest yourself in. The cosy feeling behind it is kind of similar to the Danish hygge concept. But also, cwtch is a word that is particularly tied to the Welsh identity. I may well be wrong about it, and if I am and if there are any Welsh people that are gonna read it feel free to correct me (I don’t even live in Wales, after all), but I have a strong impression that while it’s both Welsh speakers and English-speaking Welsh people who use this word, it seems to be more frequently used by the latter, as a way of connecting with the language as part of their national identity even though they don’t speak it fluently or in daily life. I tend to hear it a lot more often when someone is speaking English, especially people from South Wales, so I have a feeling it’s more like a Wenglish word, especially that it actually comes from the Middle English word couche, meaning a resting or hiding place. The “tch” cluster is also not common in Welsh. Yet, somehow the cwtch is almost like a symbol of being Welsh, an essence of Welshness, and also one of the Welsh words that people from outside of Wales are most familiar with, if they’re familiar with any Welsh words. I guess only popty ping, meaning microwave, is more famous, except it doesn’t seem to really be in use, because the actual Welsh word for microwave is meicrodon. πŸ˜€ Kind of like with this village in Anglesey called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which everyone calls just Llanfairpwllgwyngyll or simply Llanfair PG, and the sesquipedalian official name, from what I understand, is only used for the sake of tourists.

Anyway, as a Welsh learner, I thought it was really cool that this American band embraced even just these two Welsh words, cariad (love, sweetheart) and cwtch, because this is such a small, plus endangered language, so I figure it’s always somehow heartening with languages like that when someone knows even a word. I also really like the angelic vocals of Sarah Copus in this piece.

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.

Enya – “Boadicea”.

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This song of Enya’s is one of my most favourites and one of her first songs that I grew to like. I always found it very soothing with all the humming, even though in fact its inspiration is anything but soothing. Boadicea, as you may or may not know, also spelled as Boudicca, was a Celtic queen of the Iceni tribe located in what’s currently known as East Anglia, who led a revolt against Ancient Romans. Despite the meaning of her name (“victorious) she was eventually defeated, but didn’t want to accept being humiliated by her enemies, so she decided to poison herself instead. This track was sampled an infinite amount of times by different artists, including once without her prior permission, so it sounds familiar to many people, even those who aren’t really into Enya as such.

Nansi Richards – “Nes Atat Ti” (Nearer To Thee).

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Today, let’s listen to the rendition of this Christian hymn played by the Welsh harpist Nansi Richards, otherwise known as Telynores Maldwyn. Its original, English title is “Nearer, My God, to Thee” and was written by Sarah F. Adams, with the melody composed by Lowell Mason. I found it interesting when I first heard this piece played by Nansi Richards that not only do I know it, as a hymn with this melody is also known in Polish Catholic church (don’t know how about the Catholic church in other countries) but even under more or less the same title as the Welsh version. I was later quite surprised to learn that the author of the lyrics, Sarah F. Adams, was actually a Unitarian, and while when I had a look to compare the English and Polish lyrics they’re quite different and the Polish ones are only loosely based on the original theme, it’s interesting that this hymn made its way here.

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.

Catrin Finch – “Drifting”.

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I’ve shared some music, original and not, from this Welsh harpist a couple times before. But harp is not the only instrument she can play, as she also plays piano, and I remember reading somewhere that she said that piano is like a harp lying down, which sounds like quite an accurate way to put it indeed. This is her original piece and I really love how smooth it is.

Georgia Ruth – “The Doldrums”.

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Today I thought we could listen to yet another one song by Georgia Ruth, from her album Fossil Scale. I think if I had to pick my favourite album from her it would be this one, and this particular song is one of my favourites from this album, it’s just so very beautiful. I remember once reading a review of this album, where someone compared her style in general, and also especially this song, to Sandy Denny (known from bands like Fairport Convention or Fotheringay) whom I absolutely adore, and I think this is a very accurate comparison.

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.

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.

Lynn Saoirse – “The Princess Royal/Miss MacDermott”.

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Today, let’s listen to another composition by the Irish harper Turlough O’Carolan, played by Lynn Saoirse. I recently shared one that was dedicated to Mrs. MacDermott, and I wrote there that the MacDermott family was very significant in O’Carolan’s life, as they were his patrons with whom he had a really good relationship. Even though there is a / in the title of this piece, which is common with Irish sets, this is only one piece, but simply known under two names. This is because the MacDermot Roe family also used the title of princes of Coolavin, and so naturally the daughter of a Prince of Coolavin was Princess of Coolavin. This is one of the most well-known compositions by O’Carolan.