Rachel Newton – “Skye Air”.

For today, I decided to share with you a deliciously long, beautiful and a bit melancholic solo harp piece performed by Scottish harpist Rachel Newton, whose music I’ve already shared with you before. I only recently heard this particular piece but I’m totally in love with it and I think many other people may find it very interesting and pleasant. πŸ™‚

 

Lynn Saoirse – “Separation Of Soul And Body”.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

I shared one track from this great Irish harpist with you before, but I thought I’d love to share another one, when I was listening to her music last night. This is absolutely one of my most favourite pieces by her, and I think it’s very deep and moving. The harmony of this piece strongly reminds me of another, New England-based, Irish harpist – Aine Minogue – whom I love and whose music had helped me through a very difficult time.

 

Kim Robertson – “Glenlivet”.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

Today I have another Celtic harp piece for you! It is performed by great Celtic harpist from Wisconsin – Kim Robertson – who was actually classically trained in orchestral harp but decided to focus on Celtic harp and has really released a lot of albums. Glenlivet is a place in Scotland, which may be known to some because of the whisky distillery that is there and produced The Glenlivet whisky. Here’s the beautiful piece.

Celia Briar – “Eleanor Plunkett”.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

Not long ago, I shared with you a harp piece performed by Sue Richards and composed by Irish national bard and composer who was also a harper – Turlough O’Carolan. – Today, I’m sharing another tune that was composed by him and that is one of his most popular compositions, very frequently played by harpers and harpists. The version I chose to share with you is by Celia Briar, whose music I’ve also shared with you quite a few times before. From what I’ve read, it used to be a song with Irish Gaelic lyrics, which are now unknown. O’Carolan wrote this song in praise of Eleanor Plunkett from Robertstown in co. Meath.

Jess Ward – “Cowrie Love”.

Hi guys! πŸ™‚

Today I’d like to introduce to you a singer and harpist who is very new to me. I only heard her for the first time on Blas Folk Radio Cymru a couple days ago and I really liked her. For now, I don’t know any more of her music, but I am definitely going to check it out. I think both her vocals and harp play are really nice. I didn’t know what cowrie meant when first hearing this song, so just in case you don’t either, that’s how sea snails are called.

Song of the day (15th November) – The Harriet Earis Trio (Kitchen Devils).

Just a couple days ago, I shared with you guys a very interesting piece by this group called Cadair Idris. Later I thought that actually, this whole project is so quirky (and obviously I’m all for quirky on here) and there’s so much to like about their music that I’d like to share something else from them, especially that I’ve been sharing a lot of harp music lately and catching up on that I hadn’t done that a lot in the previous years of this bllog. So the piece I chose now is called Kitchen Devils. It is much more experimental than jazzy, and I really do like experimental music. It’s so fun and quirky and there’s no boundaries. Here, you really see it. Well, I do. I’ve never heard something similar I guess. It’s such a genuine blend of folk and electronica, it tastes really good to my synaesthetic, auditory-gustatory brain. More exactly it tastes a bit minty and lemony (or maybe limey?) at the same time. The dance beat made me think how cool it would be if harp was used in some kinds of club music. Instead of vocals or keyboards? It wouldn’t need to be folksy at all. I’ll have to look around if someone has ever come up with such an idea and did it. πŸ˜€ Or maybe the final result wouldn’t be cool at all and very different to what I imagine, and instead it would turn out to be a total harp profanity. For now, let’s enjoy this quirky piece. πŸ™‚

Song of the day (14th November) – Celia Briar – “Farewell To Craigie Dhu”.

Here’s another lovely harp-driven tune for you guys, from a harpist whose music I shared with you before. This composition sounds contemporary to me, and turns out that that’s what it is. It was composed by Scottish folk singer songwriter Dougie MacLean, and the Craigie Dhu in the title was a place (property) where he lived. I think moving houses, especially such that are dear enough to you that you feel like capturing them in music, is a very stressful and unsettling thing but this farewell doesn’t sound all that sad at all, it sounds very hopeful, don’t you think? So if you need a bit of hope for the future in your life, maybe you can find it in here.

Song of the day (10th November) – The Harriet Earis Trio – “Cadair Idris” (Idris’ Chair).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

This is a very new group for me, which I first heard on Blas Folk Radio Cymru and thought their music was very interesting. The Harriet Earis Trio, consisting of Harriet Earis on Celtic harp, Andy “Val” Coughlan on double bass and Sam Christie on drums makes a sort of jazz-folk fusion. Harriet Earis is a young harpist from England who currently lives in Aberystwyth and has studied Irish, Scottish and Welsh harp, so in her music she draws from the Celtic harp tradition of all of these countries, but also goes beyond the tradition. I am generally not a jazz person, although you may know that thanks to my faza on Cornelis Vreeswijk I’ve become more flexible in this regard and I do like some jazz now, thanks to Cornelis), but still this is far from being my favourite genre and even jazz with a very prominent harp doesn’t always convince me, for example I don’t really feel harpist Dorothy Ashby’s music. But I like what this trio is making, I really do! I like how spontaneous and unconventional it all is and the whole idea of Celtic jazz has a little bit of a quirky feel which I love.

This particular piece is called Cadair Idris which is the name of a mountain in Wales. It is located in Snowdonia National Park in northern Wales, on the territory of former county Meirionydd/Merionethshire which is part of Gwynedd these days, near the town of Dolgellau. It is a popular place with hikers. Its name means Idris’ Chair and refers to Idris Gawr (Idris the Giant) a medieval prince of Meirionydd, who won a battle with the Irish on this mountain.

Gwenan Gibbard – “CΓ’n Y Lleisoniaid/CΓ’n Y Droell Bach” (Song of the Lleisons/Song of the Little Spinning Wheel).

Today I’d like to share with you a set of two harp songs by my most favourite Welsh harpist – Gwenan Gibbard. She is from Llyn Peninsula in north Wales, and apart from being a harpist, she’s also a singer, and a Welsh language native in whose life music has always played a huge part since her early childhood.

Sadly I have no idea about who composed these songs, whether it’s Gwenan herself or whether they are traditional, but since I cannot find any info I think it’s safe to assume that they’re traditional. The first song is called Song of the Lleisons in English – Lleison is simply a Welsh surname. I’m curious who they were. I really like this composition as it is so melancholic and so very beautiful. And the other is Song of The Little Spinning Wheel, which has a much more happy, upbeat feel which is also why I like it a lot. I don’t know which one I like more. Do you have a favourite?

Song of the day (8th November) – Sue Richards – “Clergy’s Lamentation”.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

So I’ve shared a lot of harp music – especially Celtic harp music – with you lately, but as far as I can remember I haven’t shared anything at all from the rich legacy of the most famous Celtic harpist ever – Turlough O’Carollan. – It’s quite funny that people always associate harp, be it classical or Celtic or any other, primarily with women, and these days it’s mainly women playing this instrument and seems very unusual when it’s otherwise, while the most famous Irish Celtic harper was male. Turlough O’Carolan was born in late 17th century, and was a harper, composer and also a singer. He is regarded as Ireland’s national composer. At the age of eighteen he was blinded by smallpox. He spent most of his life journeying through the country on horseback, composing and playing his music.

A lot of contemporary harpists play his tunes, and this piece is no exception. I am sharing it with you performed by Sue Richards – Celtic harpist from North Carolina – but I’ve heard quite a few other versions. In Sue Richards’ version, there are also other instruments as you’ll be able to hear, which makes it feel nicely richer.

Song of the day (6th November) – Ailie Robertson – “Glimmer”.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

I had already shared one piece by this great Scottish harpist on here. This one comes from just the same album. It has a more reflective vibe, and I find it very relaxing. Hope you’ll find it enjoyable. πŸ™‚

This track is not available on YouTube, so I’ll embed it from Spotify and for those of you who do not have Spotify but use some other music streaming service, I’ll include a link to Songwhip that you can follow and find it on your streaming platform of choice.

Maire Brennan – “Doon Well”.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

Today I have another instrumental harp piece for you which really speaks to me. This time though, unlike yesterday, it’s Celtic, not classical, and harp-dominated rather than solo. I’ve shared this artist’s music with you before but more as a singer. It’s Maire/Moya/Mary Brennan/ni Bhraonain – Enya’s older sister and the lead singer of Clannad (the people behind “Robin, the hooded man” for example” who is a soloist as well. – But besides being a singer she’s also a harpist. I am not always the biggest fan of her singiing to be honest, just because I sort of don’t really like the hue of her voice but there absolutely are songs with her vocals that I truly love, but I much more prefer her as a harpist. And this instrumental piece from one of her solo albums is particularly emotive in my opinion.

Floraleda Sacchi – “La Chasse” (The Hunt).

Hi people! πŸ™‚

Today I have a delightful, classical piece for you. While I can appreciate the value of classical music and highly respect people who have an authentic and deep understanding of it, I myself do not feel like I have it. I don’t know whether it comes from a sort of aversion I’d gotten for this type of music at school and it still is there somewhere, or is it more a thing of my lack of emotional maturity, which I think is necessary to understand complex classical pieces and feel them.

However, as you may know, I love harp. Especially |Celtic harp, and especially in a folk setting, but I also adore classical music where the harp is very prominent, or even jazz or pop music with harp but in such genres it’s easier to screw it up so I don’t always end up liking it. And so you can imagine that my love is all the greater for solo harp music! There haven’t been many composers who would compose solo music for harp, usually piano pieces are arranged and adapted, nevertheless there have been a handful of them, who usually were harpists themselves. And there is a fabulously talented and versatile harpist (mostly Celtic) in Italy, called Floraleda Sacchi, who has put a lot of effort over the years of her work to popularise harpists and harp composers, especially the more obscure ones like Elias Parish Alvars or Alphonse Hasselmans. This beautiful and evocative piece here was also composed by one of those forgotten harpists, a Scottish lady of Italian descent called Sophia Dussek (nee Corri). Her music does strike a chord with me, and in any case, as is typically the case with me and harp music, is just a pleasure to listen to. This is a long, solo, multi-threated piece, and thus just right for my voracious brain. I don’t speak French but the title of this composition seems to mean the hunt in this language.

Sian James – “Aderyn Bach Syw” (Little Laden Bird).

Hi guys! πŸ™‚

Today I have something very short and sweet for you – a Welsh nursery rhyme. I find this little tune quite interesting – as a lot of nursery rhymes are, even if they don’t seem to be at a first glance. – I’ve always believed that since nursery rhymes are generally for children, and we put so much pressure on teaching kids all sorts of things even through literature or music that is made especially for them, that they’d have some kind of a moral. But if this one has a moral indeed, it seems quite hilarious to me. People complain so much that times have changed a lot and how so many children now are overweight or even obese. Well, perhaps it’s nursery rhymes like this, emphasising the role of our bellies that are at fault. πŸ˜€ Perhaps it was just made for the fussy kids… Well yeah, sometimes music provokes strange thoughts in my brain. πŸ˜€

I like how stoical this bird is and accepting of the possibility that we may die just absolutely any time. Reminds me of how Sofi was little, and when you asked her what she was going to do tomorrow, for example, she’d say “I don’t know, maybe I will die”. No, Sofi wasn’t suicidal or depressed, I can assure you of that. She would always say that in a happy/neutral tone, like the most natural thing in the world. Since our family is Christian and my Mum has a very similar mentality, she was simply taught that you just never know what will happen but whatever will, it was surely meant to happen, and even if it seems a bad thing, something good will likely come out of it for someone at some point. This, rather than making her nervous and worried about the future as some would perhaps expect, made her a very spontaneous girl who never plans anything too far in advance and prefers to live in the now. Which has its good and bad sides, obviously, but that’s just what Sofi’s like, and this bird reminds me of her. The part about the belly also reminds me of Sofi when she was little, because there was such a time when, whenever she would introduce herself she would say something like this: “My name is Zofia, I like to dance, draw and eat”. She doesn’t remember that but she still loves to eat more than an average person and even though she eats a lot, it doesn’t show as she’s very thin, and, because she knows about that thing she used to say from what we’ve told her, sometimes now that’s what she tells people on purpose when she doesn’t know what else to say about herself: “I’m Sofi and I like to eat”. πŸ˜€

Perhaps then, the actual moral of this nursery rhyme is accepting whatever happens to you, even if it’s death, and being aware of the fact that it may be just about anything, but while you’re alive, doing things that will keep you alive and that you find pleasant at the same time. Very simple, but perhaps not necessarily as obvious life truth as we may be tempted to think.

I used to wonder why there’s a bird in this nursery rhyme, but Welsh nursery rhymes and lullabies generally seem to be full of animals (which is, after all, not a distinctly Welsh trait at all), moreover I’ve heard about similarly nonsensical nursery rhymes from other countries where an animal is asked where it’s been or where it’s going and its answers have nothing to do with what animals of its species actually do/eat etc. The word for little bird in Welsh is aderyn, and I’ve seen somewhere that it could also mean a boy (don’t know how accurate it actually is though as I’ve never heard it in such use and am not sure how credible the source is) so perhaps it could be a boy, not a bird, but each and every mention of this song that I found in English says bird, so it’s much safer to assume that it is actually a bird.

Okay, now I’ll let you formm your own opinion on this song, here is the translation, and the song itself is below.

β€žWhere are you going, little laden bird?”

β€œI’m going to the market, if I will be alive.”

β€œWhat will you do in the market, little laden bird?”

β€œGo and get salt, if I will be alive.”

β€œWhat will you do with the salt, little laden bird?”

β€œPut it in the soup, if I will be alive.”

β€œWhat will you do with the soup, little laden bird?”

β€œPut it in my belly, if I will be alive.”

β€œWhat will you do with the belly, little laden bird?”

β€œIf it weren’t for my belly, I wouldn’t be alie.

Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter – “My Lagan Love”.

I’d like to hsare with you another song by this mysterious and multi-instrumentally talented duo. This is a popular Irish folk song apparently originating in county Donegal. The first version of it that I’ve heard was by Celtic Woman and I still really like it, but I also really like this one a whole lot. The “Lagan” in the title seems to most likely come from the river Lagan in Belfast.

Song of the day (21st October) – Rachel Newton – “The Changeling Reel”.

Hey guys! πŸ™‚

Here’s another piece from the great Scottish harpist, Rachel Newton. This was one of the first pieces by her that I’ve heard, I like the vibe of it. Also changelings are among the things in folklore that feel very close to me, so that’s another reason why I really like this interesting reel. Hope you will too. πŸ™‚

Song of the day (19th October) – Alan Stivell – “Brian Boru”.

Well, I thought I’d like to share one more piece by Alan Stivell with you, and this time it’s not just a solo harp. I believe this is actually his most popular song and is the title song of his 1995 album which is also called Brian Boru and is quite eclectic in terms of music styles and instrumentation on it.

If you don’t know who Brian Boru was, to sum it up shortly, he was a very famous high king of Ireland and the ancestor of the O’Brien dynasty.

The song is bilingual and, as far as I know, also features Maire Breatnach, and she sings in Irish and Stivell in Breton.

Here you can find a

translation of this song,

and this website credits someone with the username mhwombat as the author of the translation.

Song of the day (18th October) – Rachel Newton – “Jolene”.

Hi guys! πŸ™‚

I have another harp piece for you, but this time a pop one. This is – as I think you can easily guess – a cover of Dolly Parton’s Jolene. Rachel Newton also collaborated with Emily Portman on her album from which I once shared a song called Two Sisters, with Rachel’s fabulous harp in it. I really like her harp play a lot.

Song of the day (15th October) – Catrin Finch – “Migration”.

Since in the previous post I shared Changing Tides by Catrin Finch, I decided to share one more track from the same album by her (the album is called Tides). It’s also richly multiinstrumental as you can hear, but with harp having a prominent place in it. The atmosphere of this piece is very much different though. Which one do you like more? I can’t decide!

Song of the day (14th October) – Catrin Finch – “Changing Tides”.

Here is another harpist – Catrin Finch from Wales – whose music I had previously shared with you, including some that she has created in collaboration with the kora player Seckou Keita. I think this is an evocative piece with interesting instrumentation, pleasant to listen to, and I hope you’ll find it enjoyable too. πŸ™‚