Llio Rhydderch – “Mwynen Machno” (The Enjoyment of Machno).

    Hey people! 🙂 

   Today, I want to share with you a traditional tune from the Conwy Valley, played on the Welsh triple harp by Llio Rhydderch. I know that there is a Machno Valley somewhere in Conwy, and a village called Penmachno and some other similar placenames in that area, so the tune’s name must have to do with one of them or the whole area. 

Delyth Jenkins – “Crwtyn Llwyd” (The Grey Lad).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I have a traditional Welsh polka tune for you, played by Delyth Jenkins. It comes from the collaborative album that she recorded together with poet Emily Hinshelwood, from which I’ve already shared a couple of other pieces in the past. 

Nansi Richards – “Y Ferch o’r Sger” (The Maid of Sker).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today, I’d like to share with you another traditional tune from the Welsh harpist Nansi Richards. This song was composed by a Welsh harper from Carmarthen called Thomas Evans, who died in 1819. He fell in love with a maid who lived in Sker, a farm house in Glamorgan which took  its name from a headland nearby called Sker Point. And this song is about her. 

Llio Rhydderch – “Anhawdd Ymadael” (Difficult to Depart).

   Hey dear people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you yet another piece from the great Welsh harpist from Anglesey, Llio Rhydderch, who plays the Welsh triple harp. Her music has been featured on here quite a few times, and this particular tune comes from her album titled Sir Fôn Bach (Little Anglesey). This is a traditional Welsh farewell tune, but sadly I don’t really know anything beyond that about it. Still, I think it is beautiful. 

Gwenan Gibbard – “Trafaeliais y Byd” (I Travelled the World).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you a traditional Welsh song performed by Welsh harpist and singer Gwenan Gibbard. It comes from her album Sidan Glas (Blue Silk). I don’t understand the entire lyrics, but from what I do gather it is about someone who was travelling (sailing, I’m pretty sure) through the world and had to say goodbye to his native country – Wales – and a lot of places in North Wales are mentioned by name that have been dear to the lyrical subject as well as things he enjoyed doing there. 

Ffynnon – “Llys Ifor Hael” (The Court of Ifor the Generous).

   Hey dear people! 🙂 

   For today, I have another song by Ffynnon for you. This time, it is a medieval englyn – a short poetic form traditional to Wales and Cornwall – written by Ieuan Brydydd Hir. It is a lament over the state of the court of Ifor ap Llywelyn of Bassaleg in Gwent, who was a patron of bards, including one of the greatest Welsh poets – Dafydd ap Gwilym. – It was also Dafydd ap Gwilym who gave him the name Ifor Hael (Ifor the Generous). The translation below comes from Ffynnon’s website. 

   The hall of Ifor the generous, poor it looks
A cairn, it lies amongst alders
Thorns and the blight of the thistle own it
Briars, where once there was greatness

The muses are no longer there 
No bards nor joyous tables
No gold within its walls
No armour, no generous giver

Cold grief for Dafydd, skilled in song
The burying of Ifor in the earth
Paths where once there was singing
Are now the haunts of the owl

Despite the brief glory of lords
Their greatness and their walls end
Houses on the sand
Are a strange place for there to be pride

Siân James – “Ei Di’r Deryn Du?” (Will You Go, Black Bird?)

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I would like to share with you a traditional Welsh song, another one on here sung and played on the harp by Siân James. As you will notice, the song is in Welsh and English, and the languages switch with one another every line. The translation below was written by Richard B Gillion 

 

   Will you go, Black Bird

  To my dearest love?

O quest for my dear lass,

  For I’m so deep in love.

 

I cannot see anywhere

  such a damsel in my sight

As the girl fair of colour –

  She is a beauty bright.

 

Her hair is golden yellow,

  Just like a ring of gold,

And her countenance like white snow –

  The truth it must be told.

Ffynnon – “Pais Dinogad” (Dinogad’s Smock).

   For today’s song of the day, I have a deliciously old nursery rhyme, or lullaby, for you. It possibly originates as far back as the 7th century. It was originally written in Old Welsh, and is interesting linguistically because it provides possible evidence of some features of the Cumbric language, which was a language closely related to Welsh or Breton, which was in use in Cumbria and southern Scotland until about the 12th century. It’s the lullaby of a mother who tells her baby son – Dinogad – about his dead father, and what a great hunter he was, while little Dinogad is wrapped in a smock made of marten skins. The poem also mentions “the waterfall of Derwennydd” which is thought to be a river called Derwent in the north of England. Unsurprisingly, the original tune has sadly not survived along with the poem, but the Welsh folk trio Ffynnon have set it to music. I have shared several songs by them on here before, but for anyone unfamiliar with their music, Ffynnon consists of Lynne Denman (vocals), Stacy Blythe (harp) and Emma Trend (fiddle). Their name means “fountain” in Welsh. They have also combined Pais Dinogad with two set of numbers from one to eight, where the first one is in Welsh, and the second one is the Cumbrian sheep-counting rhyme. Also in their version the number of slaves every time they’re mentioned is decreased, as is common in nursery rhymes. 

   I think the whole Pais Dinogad thing is very interesting, so in case you think so as well and have never heard of this lullaby, here is a long and exhaustive article on it from Wikipedia  including a translation which I’m also pasting below. 

   Dinogad’s smock, speckled, speckled,

 

I made from the skins of Martens.

 

Whistle, whistle, whistly

 

we sing, the eight slaves sing.

 

When your father used to go to hunt,

 

with his shaft on his shoulder and his club in his hand,

 

he would call his speedy dogs,

 

“Giff, Gaff, catch, catch, fetch, fetch!”,

 

he would kill a fish in a coracle,

 

as a lion kills an animal.

 

When your father used to go to the mountain,

 

he would bring back a roebuck, a wild pig, a stag,

 

a speckled grouse from the mountain,

 

a fish from the waterfall of Derwennydd

 

Whatever your father would hit with his spear,

 

whether wild pig or lynx or fox,

 

nothing that was without wings would escape.

Lynn Saoirse – “Marches of the O’Neills”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you another piece by Irish harpist Lynn Saoirse on here. Most of what I have shared by her are tunes composed by Turlough O’Carolan, as she has recorded a lot of his music, and so seems to be the case with this set of planxty tunes, but I don’t know anything more about them. 

Norland Wind – “The Snowy Birch Trees”.

   Hey lovely people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you an instrumental piece from a group which I have discovered only very recently, and find it kind of surprising that I hadn’t known about them at all earlier. They’re an international bunch of musicians who, as Norland Wind, make music which is a bit like a bridge between Celtic and Scandinavian folk music. So no wonder that I ended up liking them. It was founded by German harpist Thomas Loefke who learned to play the harp from Irish harpists in Dublin, and its other members are  such people as: Norwegian singer, guitarist and player of multiple other plucked string instruments Kerstin Blodig, whose educational background is in musicology as well as Scandinavian languages and cultures, with emphasis on Norwegian folk music, and like most other Norland Wind musicians she also works on multiple other projects and is a soloist as well (she sounds quite like my peep if she’s both into Scandinavian and Celtic folk music and then Scandinavian languages on top of that 😀 ), Irish fiddler, violinist,  viola player and singer Máire Breatnach and Scottish finger-style guitarist and low whistle player Ian Melrose who used to play with Clannad, and together with Kerstin Blodig forms the duo Kelpie. Late Clannad members – twin brothers Pádraig and Noel Duggan – also used to be part of the group’s line-up, which is precisely why I am so surprised that I hadn’t heard of Norland Wind earlier than I did, because one of my faza  people is Enya, who used to be part of Clannad, and so naturally I find Clannad and its members very interesting, both because they used to play with Enya and because they’re her family. So I like that Norland Wind has some distant connection to Enya as well, through Clannad. 

   Since it’s still winter (at least theoretically, because here it’s been raining a lot rather than snowing and feels more as if it was March or something) I decided on this wintry piece by them. 

Hirundo Maris – “Tarantela”.

   Hi people! 🙂 

   I have already shared one song by Hirundo Maris with you all earlier this month, but since I’ve been listening to them a fair bit lately, I thought I’d share another piece, a much older one this time. It is Tarantela, created by Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz – a Spanish baroque harpist, as well as composer for lute and guitar. – It comes from Hirundo Maris’ 2012 album called Hirundo Maris – Chants du Sud et du Nord (Hirundo Maris – Songs of the South and the North), named so because it features music from different regions, from  Catalan and Sephardic to Scottish and Norwegian, which is an interesting blend of early music and folk. The album is dedicated to the memory of Montserrat Figueras – the mother of Arianna Savall who was a soprano singer specialising in early music, who passed away in 2011. – 

   I’ve already introduced Hirudno Maris in my first post about them, but for those unfamiliar, Hirundo Maris means “sea swallow” in Latin, and the group was founded by the aforementioned singer and harpist Arianna Savall, together with her Norwegian partner – musician and singer Petter Udland Johansen who plays the harbanger fiddle (Norway’s national instrument that I think I wrote more about when sharing Sigrid Moldestad’s music) and mandolin. They are also accompanied by a few other musicians. 

Rachel Newton – “O Cò Thogas Dhìom An Fhadachd”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you another song by  Scottish singer and harpist Rachel Newton, this time one coming from her 2018 album West. It is an entirely solo album, consisting only of Rachel’s vocals and harp, both acoustic and electroharp. It was recorded at her grandparents’ house and produced by Mattie Foulds. I don’t know much about this particular piece, other than what Rachel wrote herself, that it is based on the singing of Jenna Cumming on BBC Alba (BBC Alba (the Scottish Gaelic TV channel), and since I don’t speak Gàidhlig (yet) I don’t know what it is about, but it sounds beautiful to me nonetheless. 

Clio K – “Ariadne”.

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   Today, I want to introduce you to an artist  I discovered  recently. Clio K, or Clio Karabelias, is a French-Greek harpist and composer who is classically trained, yet, judging by her debut album, is also drawn to traditional music of different regions of the world. Clio also performs at weddings and receptions. Ariadne is the opening track from her aforementioned debut album of the same name, which refers to Ariadne from  Greek mythology. 

Maire Brennan – “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”.

   Hi people! 🙂 

   Well, Christmas is coming very soon (and it feels even sooner  in some European countries like  Poland, where we practically celebrate Christmas Eve most festively of all the Christmas days), so, it feels like just  the right time to share a Christmas carol, even though I’ll traditionally be sharing something Christmassy on Christmas Eve as well. Of course, it HAS to be a Celtic Christmas carol. Well okay, technically, the carol itself is  English, but the singer is Irish – Maire Brennan, whose music I have shared many times on here, both solo and as part of Clannad. – I  like her version of it. 

Diana Rowan – “Your Soul is a Chosen Landscape”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today, I’d like to share a harp piece by Diana Rowan with you. This is the second one featured on this blog. Diana is originally from Dublin, but is currently based in the US. I believe that the title of this track refers to a French poem called “Clair de Lune”, written by Paul Verlaine, which inspired Claude Debussy to compose his famous work of the same name. THis poem includes a line “Your soul is a chosen landscape”. 

Lisa Lynne ft. Aryeh Frankfurter – “Interlace V”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today, I’m happy to share with you another track from Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter’s 2011 album “Weaving Worlds”. This album includes several Interlace pieces, and today I’m featuring the fifth of them. I’ve previously shared  Interlaces II, III, and IV  on this blog as well if you’d like to have a listen to those 

Celia Briar – “Her Mantle so Green”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I have for you a traditional Irish ballad from County Armagh played by the harpist Celia Briar. This song was first collected from a man called Jim O’Neill, and it is a so-called broken token ballad, that is one where there are two lovers who divide something between themselves, like a ring, as a love token, but then they part as he goes off to fight somewhere far away. This particular song is from the point of view of a man who sees a woman (her name is Nancy) and is immediately so enamoured with her that he proposes to her straight away. She rejects his proposal, saying that she’s already engaged with another man who is currently in the army and had fought at Waterloo. The man asks her the name of her lover, because he had also fought at Waterloo, and she shows him his name (Willie O’Reilly) embroidered on her mantle. As it happened, Willie O’Reilly was a good friend of his who died in the battle, and mentioned Nancy to him, giving him the ring which was the token of his love for Nancy, which understandably really upsets the girl. And here’s where things get potentially a little bit confusing. Because then suddenly Willie speaks about the day when they parted, and then later the narration switches to third-person, which makes one realise that Willie hasn’t died, he just decided to test her fidelity a bit, and she must have not recognised him. 

   Like I said this is an instrumental harp version that I’m sharing with you, but the first version of this song that I’ve heard was that of Sinead O’Connor, which is also good and perhaps I’ll share it at some point in future as well. 

Gwenan Gibbard – “Cysga Di Fy Mhlentyn Tlws” (Sleep my Pretty Child).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   I have shared this lovely lullaby with you in the past, sung by Siân James, and because I really like it, I thought that today I’d share a different version with you, sung by another Welsh folk singer and harpist, but this time one from  North Wales – Gwenan Gibbard. – You can visit the post above to find the translation of the lyrics.