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

Hi people! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ Perhaps it was just made for the fussy kids… Well yeah, sometimes music provokes strange thoughts in my brain. ๐Ÿ˜€

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”. ๐Ÿ˜€

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.

โ€žWhere are you going, little laden bird?โ€

โ€œIโ€™m going to the market, if I will be alive.โ€

โ€œWhat will you do in the market, little laden bird?โ€

โ€œGo and get salt, if I will be alive.โ€

โ€œWhat will you do with the salt, little laden bird?โ€

โ€œPut it in the soup, if I will be alive.โ€

โ€œWhat will you do with the soup, little laden bird?โ€

โ€œPut it in my belly, if I will be alive.โ€

โ€œWhat will you do with the belly, little laden bird?โ€

โ€œIf it werenโ€™t for my belly, I wouldnโ€™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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Song of the day (13th October – Alan Stivell – “Kloareg Trelemo”.

I thought I’d share one more solo harp track by Alan Stivell. It doesn’t speak to me as strongly as Marv Pontkalleg does, but I also find it very evocative and beautiful, but in a different way. I believe the title is in Breton, but since I don’t speak Breton and don’t know a reliable source for Breton vocabulary, I’ve no clue what it could mean. It’s very beautiful though, which makes it worth sharing in my opinion. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Song of the day (12th October) – Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter – “I Am Sitting/Suzie MCGuire”.

Hey guys! ๐Ÿ™‚

Time for another set of harp pieces. Like a track I recently shared with you by Ailie Robertson, this one also contains two compositions in itself. Sadly, I am unable to tell you anything about them, whether they’re traditional or original or anything about how they have come to life, as I simply don’t know anything. Still, I think they’re worth listening to and the less we know, the more our imaginations can work, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

Lisa Lynne is a very talented and acknowledged harpist, generally associated both with folk and new age music, but she seems to feel closer to the former, and also appears to have a strong connection with renaissance music and get a lot of inspiration from it. She apparently also plays other instruments, and previously performed as Lisa Franco. Unfortunately that’s about all I know about her, she seems to appreciate her privacy greatly and there’s not much I’ve managed to find out despite I’ve been listening to her for years. I definitely do not like all of her music as sometimes her harp play just doesn’t speak to me, but still many of her compositions or renditions of traditional ones are absolutely great and relaxing.

I know even less about Aryeh Frankfurter, only that he is also a multiinstrumentalist, and, most interestingly for me, plays nyckelharpa, which you can also hear in this track. For the uninitiated, nyckelharpa, or keyed fiddle (though its name literally means key harp in Swedish) is a string instrument which sounds quite similar to fiddle but has keys. It is heavily used in Swedish, and generally Scandinavian, folk music.

Ailie Robertson & Tim Eedey – “Trip To Dinan/Princess Nancy’s”.

Hey you people! ๐Ÿ™‚

Well yeah, there has been a lot more harp on here lately, but, just like I said recently, I thought that, compared with my harpophilia, it was really too little so I’ll want to catch up on that a little in the nearest future.

Yesterday we had a Welsh duo, and today we are also having a thoroughly Celtic one – with one of the players playing harp. – The harp player is Scottish and is called Ailie Robertson, I really love how inventively she often uses her harp. The song, or rather a set that I want to show you comes from her album called Little Lights. The other member of the duo is called Tim Eedey, and he’s Irish. He plays many instruments, according to what I’ve read, although I can’t recall ever hear him play except on this album. On this particular track, he plays guitar.

As I said, this is a set of tracks rather than one single piece – which is common in folk music especially instrumental. The first piece is Trip To Dinan. I didn’t know where Dinan was, but this sounds just so enchanting, soothing and serene that I thought it must be a fictional place, but looked it up just for accuracy and now I know that there actually is a place called Dinan in Brittany. We just recently had Alan Stivell and Pontcallec, with its conspiracy, and now there’s another Breton town featured in my Mishmashy world. From what I’ve learnt it seems like this one’s quite popular with tourists, which you can deduce from the title anyway.

The second piece is a jig – and thus is much more energetic – and it’s substantially longer. It’s called Princess Nancy’s. I don’t know who princess Nancy was (sounds like a very unusual standalone name for a princess ๐Ÿ˜€ ), but I imagine that if she danced such joyful jigs, she must have been a very happy person. The only thing I know about the jig is that its other name is Liz Carroll’s, and Liz Carroll is of course an Irish fiddler, so I assume she must be the one who composed it/performed it first.

I hope you will also enjoy this two-piece set. ๐Ÿ™‚

I also have some good news for you. If you have been following the song of the day series on my blog, you may know that, when a certain song is not available on YouTube (which is probably the most universal platform for music because it’s popular so there’s a lot of different music and you don’t even have to be logged in to listen to it), I shared it from Spotify, which is the streaming service I use and where I make most or at least a large part of my music discoveries. That was very frustratingly unfair on people who do not have Spotify, because they could only listen to a mini fragment of this song.

Now this is going to change a bit for the better. I’ve heard about a thing called Songwhip, which makes it possible to share a song with people using different streaming services. So if your preferred music source is Apple Music, Deezer or whatever else there is, and the song I’m sharing happens to be available in the catalogue of your streaming service of choice, you can just click the link to Songwhip and there you can choose the platform that you use and it will take you directly to the song. I think it’s very nice and practical.

I realise and it frustrates me that it still leaves out those who do not use ANY streaming service, and I guess there’s still a lot of such people and they have every right to steer clear from them and shouldn’t be discriminated like that, I am not trying to somehow impose using streaming services on any of my readers because I myself have a very much love-hate relationship with Spotify, which I even wrote a post about, and understand the reasons why people don’t like the idea. But there’s simply not much I can do to accomodate such people. That’s how it is when you listen to very quirky music. ๐Ÿ˜€ Sometimes also a particular song may not be available in your streaming service of choice because they catalogues do vary a bit between each other in what they have and what they don’t, and it particularly applies to small record labels, or at least that’s my impression, that they may collaborate with one streaming service, but not the other.

So from now on, when a song I’m posting won’t be on YouTube at all or not in a version I find worth sharing, I’ll embed the song from Spotify as I always did and also provide the link to Songwhip who use other streaming services.

Ailie Robertson & Tim Eedey – “Trip To Dinan/Princess Nancy’s”

Delyth Jenkins & Angharad Jenkins – “Sosban Fach” (Little Saucepan).

Hey people! ๐Ÿ™‚

Today I have a strange little Welsh folk tune for you, which also happens to be one of the most popular (if not the very most popular) Welsh folk song currently, and, interestingly also a sort of Welsh rugby anthem. I say interestingly because it’s actually very gloomy and minor so it’s kind of funny that anyone would sing something like this after a victory. ๐Ÿ˜€ But that’s what I like about this song! When I heard it for the first time, I was like: “What?! What is it actually about? Was it someone with dysthymia writing this or whatever?” (If you’re new and wondering, no, I’m not trying to laugh or trivialise dysthymia, I have it myself and know what it’s like, while having a lot of distance to things). It’s just so blue, and at the same time kind of nonsensical. But I grew to like it, because I like quirky stuff that doesn’t seem to make sense, because I like the gloomy and the grim. And it actually gets all better at the end, if you want to believe so, so it’s not all so very bad, but it gets better in a very realistic way and not everything gets better, so it’s not your classic happy ending. We have too many sickening, insipid, exalted or just plain boring and predictable songs focusing monothematically about love, that I think we should embrace the diversity that we still get to have in music.

I’d be most happy to be able to share with you my the very very most favourite version of this song (I actually haven’t found many versions of this song that I’d truly like, only three or so that seriously stand out to me and resonate with me) sung by Gwilym Bowen Rhys and played by him on autoharp, but it is not an actually published version and also is not really available online as a standalone recording so I’d have to cut it out and I’m not sure that’s even a right thing to do legally and I don’t want to do illegal things with music if I don’t absolutely need to. So I’ll share my second favourite, but it’s really very close and it’s also great. It is also an instrumental so you don’t get to enjoy the gloomy text, but I’ll share the translation with you.

 

Mary-Ann has hurt her finger,

And David the servant is not well.

The baby in the cradle is crying,

And the cat has scratched little Johnny.

A little saucepan is boiling on the fire,

A big saucepan is boiling on the floor,

And the cat has scratched little Johnny.

Little Dai the soldier,

Little Dai the soldier,

Little Dai the soldier,

And his shirt tail is hanging out.

Mary-Annโ€™s finger has got better,

And David the servant is in his grave;

The baby in the cradle has grown up,

And the cat is โ€˜asleep in peaceโ€™.

A little saucepan is boiling on the fire,

A big saucepan is boiling on the floor,

And the cat is โ€˜asleep in peaceโ€™.

I was wondering what was the deal with the “little Dai the soldier” and what was he doing there, but apparently it could be just a sort of mistake that has evolved over the years and in fact the “soldier” could have more to do with “soldering” rather than an actual soldier. He also seems to be left out in many versions I’ve heard.

The version I want to share with you is played by the fabulous mother and daughter duo – Delyth and Angharad Jenkins. – Delyth is the mother and plays the harp absolutely gloriously, and Angharad is a very talented fiddler, who is also part of a Welsh folk band Calan. The two ladies often perform under the name D&A, but for this piece they seem to have kept their actual names. Also this piece gets more cheerful by the end so I thought it would be better to share it with you in case all these miseries at oncemade made you feel too intensely blue.

Alan Stivell – Marv Pontkalleg (Pontcallec Conspiracy).

Hey guys! ๐Ÿ™‚

Compared with my extreme love of Celtic harp, there is very little harp on this blog, and I am planning to change it in the upcoming weeks or perhaps months. Today, I want to share with you one of my all-time favourite harp pieces, by one of the most famous Celtic harpists, and probably the most famous Breton harpist – Alan Stivell. – I heard it for the first time many years ago and I instantly loved it because it sounded so heart-breakingly bittersweet to me and was just so beautiful. It continues, as I said, to be one of my most favourite harp pieces to this day.

However, until very recently, I had no idea what its title could mean, or what’s generally the message behind it. I don’t speak any Breton and it didn’t sound particularly similar to any words in the other Celtic languages that I’d know. One day I finally checked it up and was quite surprised. I’d never think that the inspiration behind it could be so rough but it makes it the more fascinating for me. The title means Pontcallec Conspiracy, and so refers to the historical event in Brittany called

Conspiracy of Pontcallec

(or Pontkalleg in Breton). Really fascinating!

Here is this beautiful piece.

ร“rla Fallon – “Morning Has Broken”.

Hey people! ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s not morning here anymore, not even for my always jet-lagged brain ๐Ÿ˜€ – today it happened to be very early – but I hardly post anything in the morning and I would like to share this song with you, so why care about timing, especially that there are so many different timezones and you don’t have to view this today but could be any other day, in the morning or not.

I’m sure most people know the Cat Stevens classic, and yes, unsurprisingly, this song is a cover of it. I don’t really like the original, for no particular reason really, it just doesn’t really speak to me. And yes, it’s probably too common for me to like it, lol. This cover by ร“rla Fallon is so beautiful though, I fell in love with it instantly when I heard it.

ร“rla Fallon is one of the former member of an Irish all-female group called Celtic Woman, she was a singer and a harpist there. I really love her harp, and her voice, makes for a very angelic combination. I do not like however that from what I’m observing right now, ร“rla is stretching more towards the country end of the folk music spectrum, and away from the folksy, Celtic, pure folk, that she was doing with Celtic Woman and solo.

I think she makes this song sound exactly as it should sound – sweet, refreshing and happy in a deep, calm way. – Synaesthetically, this song in her version has a very vivid and distinct raspberry flavour to me, and I love raspberries so it’s just so cool. I think it’s especially ร“rla’s harp that makes it so perfect. I wonder if other people see it similarly. So here it is, and I hope you enjoy.

Lynn Saoirse – “Mervyn Pratt”.

Hey people! ๐Ÿ™‚

Let’s listen to some more Celtic harp today! I have a lovely little tune for you by an Irish harpist Lynn Saoirse who plays Celtic harp. It is called Mervyn Pratt. I did a little bit of research to learn who the title character was and found out that there was a Pratt family in Ireland who owned the Cabra Castle, which is now a hotel, and there were a few Mervyns born into this family. I really like the whole album from which this song comes – The Seas Are Deep – and Lynn Saoirse’s harp play is great!

Celia Briar – “Pretty Girl Milking A Cow”.

Today I have a beautiful Celtic harp piece for you, as I’ve been listening to a lot of Celtic harp lately. I mean, I always do, but recently it’s been more than I had done it in a long while.

Celia Briar is a harpist from New Zealand, plays Celtic harp. She used to tour a lot and have a lot of concerts in different countries, but I don’t know if she still does. She’s also collaborated with Irish flautist Bev Whelan. I’ve heard that she currently resides in the UK. This piece comes from her 1995 album which is all very beautiful, I couldn’t decide which piece to choose for this post, to the point that in the end I decided to choose at random. ๐Ÿ˜€ Hope you enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Emily Portman – “Two Sisters”.

Today I have a folk song for you, a beautiful English ballad. Well, this performance is English, but the song is actually known in many European countries, like a lot of folk ballads. I’ve heard different versions, both in terms of plot, melody and language. From English, to Scots, to Hungarian… But I think I am right to assume that it originated in the British Isles. Sometimes it’s known as “Cruel Sister”, but Emily Portman’s version is called “Two Sisters”. It’s a murder ballad – somehow I’ve posted a lot of those, well, I guess they must be really good. –

So, as I said, Emily Portman is English, and the song comes from her album titled “Glamoury”, which was made in cooperation with a harpist Rachel Newton (I haven’t heard her own music but from this album I think she must be a great harpist and I really like her harp play) and another singer – Lucy Farrell – I like that, since it’s said in the song that after the younger sister’s death, a harp was made of her breast bone by a minstrel, this song, in Emily’s version, actually contains harp. A lot of harp. The whole album contains quite a lot of harp, though I can be never satiated. Here goes, I hope you like it.