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!
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. 🙂
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. 🙂
Hey guys! 🙂
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? 🙂
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.
Hey you people! 🙂
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 😀 ), 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. 🙂
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. 😀 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.
Hey people! 🙂
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. 😀 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-Ann’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 ‘asleep in peace’.
A little saucepan is boiling on the fire,
A big saucepan is boiling on the floor,
And the cat is ‘asleep in peace’.
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.
Hey guys! 🙂
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
(or Pontkalleg in Breton). Really fascinating!
Here is this beautiful piece.
Hey people! 🙂
It’s not morning here anymore, not even for my always jet-lagged brain 😀 – 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 Órla Fallon is so beautiful though, I fell in love with it instantly when I heard it.
Órla 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, Órla 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 Órla’s harp that makes it so perfect. I wonder if other people see it similarly. So here it is, and I hope you enjoy.
Hey people! 🙂
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!
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. 😀 Hope you enjoy. 🙂
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.
What frivolous thing do you really want, but couldn’t possibly have? My answer:
I understand frivolous as something you want, but don’t need at all, just a whim.
In my case, that would be a harp. I mean my own harp. Preferably a Celtic harp, though there are still lots of kinds of Celtic harps, but I don’t know which one I like the most. And if you don’t know me well enough, no, I don’t play harp. And even if I wouldn’t ever learn to play it, I would take great pleasure in just having it. I consider people who are privileged to have (not rent) their own harp very lucky in life. What would it be for you? 🙂
Here is another song by Loreena MCKennitt that I love and want to share with you. Originally, it was a peoem written by William Butler Yeats – Irish 20th century poet and Nobel Prize winner (it was “Down By The Salley Gardens” in the original I believe). – Apparently, Yeats based some of it on a folk ballad “The Rambling Boys Of Pleasure”. It’s been recorded as a song by many artists though, and especially those making Celtic music. I think Loreena’s version is one of the best I know. b
Hi guys. 🙂
I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything lately, have been doing lots of things with my languages and was just disorganised with it all. Here’s the SUnday question.
What did you always want to try but never found the courage to do?
Lots and lots of things. I have different kinds of anxiety which all make it difficult for me to do different things. I know that overcoming ALL of them, and all the limitations they put on me is likely going to take me the entire life. One of the biggest and most courageous steps I’ve made in recent years was going to Sweden. I’ve always wanted it, I’ve always wanted to visit all my countries very very much, but at the same time I dreaded it so, so much. My Dad kept promising me for years that one day we’ll go to Sweden. We could realise it only two years ago, but before then, every year he promised me that, and then when we couldn’t go, on one hand I was very disappointed, but on other, probably equally relieved. Going to Sweden, or any of my countries, would mean facing all of my strongest anxieties. Because of this, it could also turn out disappointing, I definitely wouldn’t like if it was so that I would go to Sweden and then something would go very wrong, I rather preferred not to go there than have forever some very bad associations with this trip, I was also worried that I might be simply disappointed with myself, either with my social skills, or facing other anxieties, or even language skills, or that I could disappoint my family perhaps. Not to mention all the small fears I had, but in overwhelming amounts and relating to very different things. I did enjoy our trip a lot, but it was also exhausting for me, because of all the anxiety I had to face and cope with all the time. It was also rewarding because I saw that I can do some things I thought I can’t. THe frustrating thing though is, although I now have this experience under my belt, and know how it feels, I feel that if I’d go to Sweden, or any other of my favourite countries, for another time, the story would repeat. Despite all that I know already, that I can go through this. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can assume so after last summer when my Dad (I guess he must have gotten used to doing it) told me again that this year we’ll go to Sweden again, and would I like to. I said I would, ’cause I would, but as soon as I heard that, I knew my anxieties, despite I faced them back then, haven’t died and it would still be like for the first time for me.
I talk about this to show you that trying new and different things is pretty much always scary for me, even if they are good things that I in fact want. Same about most major changes in life. It feels very scary.
But Ok the question is about something I have never tried so far. One of such things is playing harp, especially Celtic harp. I have learnt to play some instruments in the past – piano and guitar, – though although I do have an ear for music, I wasn’t particularly good at it. One thing was that I didn’t enjoy it that much, just sort of did it because I felt I should, that I was expected to do it because of my “ear for music”. another was my shitty coordination which made it simply hard for me physically or technically to play well and it was always an effort, especially that as I said I didn’t have much motivation, and another thing was my anxiety and all the related stuff, I think they were also getting in the way. Finally, after some years of learning music I decided it’s not for me, and I just feel much better as a listener than a performer. Because I definitely do. And I started to use my musical skills for languages, which are also music of its own kind, in my opinion. But I’ve been always in love with harp, especially Celtic harp as I said, and loved to listen to it. And I’ve always had that dream about playing harp myself. Just for myself, to have fun. I’ve always been OK with having it just in the sphere of my dreams. Having in mind all my fruitless efforts with piano and guitar, I’m not even sure whether I’d seriously want to devote myself to studying it, after all harp is at least equally if not more difficult than guitar or piano, requiring a lot of dexterity and other things that are hard for me. Also Celtic harp is a niche instrument, quite expensive, the more that I woouldn’t be able to just teach myself how to play it, and would have to have a tutor. As I think about all my and my Mum’s trials to find language tutors for me, of whom the vast majority ran away screaming just after hearing that I’m blind, finding a Celtic harp tutor sounds ridiculous. So, I’d have a lot to dedicate, and I’m just not sure whether I’m really up to it. Whether I really want it seriously enough. I guess not, but if I had a chance and nothing to lose, I’d try, even just once, to feel how it is, as I’ve never even seen a harp, so if not because of anything else, than just out of plain curiosity. For now though, I think in this sphere my dreams give me enough satisfaction. What would I dream about if I could even play harp? Or if I learned that it’s something not for me because of my physical limitations? Dreaming about it probably wouldn’t be as pleasant then. And I love my dreams.
So, how about you? DO you consider doing it in the future or leave it in the sphere of dreams?
Hi guys! 🙂
Aine Minogue is my most favourite harpist in the whole world and one of my most favourite female singers. She’s so soothing. I’ve already showed you one of her instrumental pieces called “Brigid’s Feast”. If anyone of you like Enya, I’m sure you’ll love Aine, if you don’t know her yet. I can say that her music has pulled me through a lot for many years, it always gives me what I need the most. It soothes me, helps me escape from the reality, or gives me the space to think more on things, elevates my mood or keeps me company when I’m depressed, helps me overcome or let out my feelings, inspires me or helps my mind to clear itself from all thoughts. Her voice is so ethereal and beautiful and so is her accent, and I absolutely love her harp. When I’m in the mood, I can listen to her for hours, and so I do today.
The song I want to show you comes from aine’s newest album called “Eve”. It’s inspired by Eve as an archetype of femininity, or biblical Eve, or whoever/whatever she can be for AIne and for us. The song itself is particularly inspired by the movie “All About Eve”.
As for Aine, she comes from Ireland, from co. Tipperary, but now she lives in New England.
You’re getting to build the house of your dreams, so…
If you could chose one original piece of art/craft/artefact for your home what would it be?
To match the Celtic feel, I would fill the house with all kinds of harps, particularly Welsh ones as my dreamhouse would be in Wales. I would learn to play Celtic harp and I would invite lots of harpists and harpers to my house, make some sorts of harp festivals and I would also design harps on my own. That could be a lot of fun.
Another tune from Catrin Finch I want to share with you. It’s just so stunningly beautiful. Not so long ago, I showed you the same song performed by the band Alaw and my current music crush, Gwilym Bowen Rhys. That one was a song, not an instrumental, so if you haven’t seen it before, you can check out, as well as the lyrics
Catrin Finch’s version is a harp solo arrangement of this traditional Welsh love song and it’s very creative and beautiful and relaxing and just so sooo beautiful it makes my brain melting and falling to pieces almost as much as Gwilym’s version.
Here it is:
Hi guys! 🙂
Today I have an instrumental for you. Something extremely powerful, brilliant and charismatic.
I love Catrin Finch. It’s pretty easy to guess if you know that Finch is a harpist, because I love harp, any kind of harp, and I love Welsh music, and you can find plenty of Welsh inspirations in her music, because she lives in Wales. Catrin Finch is a really good and widely known harpist, just the fact that the first time I’ve heard about her was in Polish public radio, not in Welsh BBC station or online. And I naturally liked her music immediately. She’s a really good and skilled harpist and arranger. She was taught by very good harpists, like Elinor Bennett (who is actually her mother in law now) and started to learn to play harp at quite an early age, don’t know now when exactly, but as a child. Her mum is German, and her dad is English, but she is a fluent Welsh-speaker. She and her husband own a studio near Cardiff, which is actually an old chapel, and lots of great artists recorded their music there.
The piece I want to show you – “Clarach” – is a collaboration between Finch and Seckou Keita. Seckou Keita is from Senegal and he plays kora (have you ever heard about this instrument? I haven’t) and is also a drummer. Clarach, if you don’t know and are curious, is the name of te river near Aberystwyth in Wales.
What is an art form you admire/respect, more than like?
Quite hard to say. I think I pay more attention to details like how a piece of art is done and who did it and for what kind of purposes than just simply to what kind of art form it is. I love books, but I can’t tell you I love all kinds of books, right now I am at the stage when I’m pretty picky about what I read, despite I read all the time. And I love writing but can’t say I just love writing for the sake of just writing, I prefer some forms of writing over others and I’m better at some than at others. But well I think I could say I love books and writing and I definitely respect people who are good at writing and have a real gift for it.
Another kind of art I generally like is music. But I also wouldn’t rather say “I love music”. I’m pretty versatile as for what I like to listen to, but still, I won’t listen to all kinds of music with the same love/admiration. And I almost hate doing music on my own, my fantastic school discouraged me from it by constant encouraging or actually forcing, so even if I have some gift for it, I no longer care about it and as I’ve told you before I feel much more in the right place as a listener (or let’s say critic, as it sounds so sophisticated and wise :P) of music. But OK, overall I can say that I love a lot of kinds of music, it definitely does speak to me, so maybe I can generalise it and just simply say I love and admire music and people who make it.
Then I have a bit of a soft spot for sculpture and it’s because of my grandad who has sculpted quite a bit in his life in stone and wood. He’s a very versatile man, you know, he seems to be a jack at everything – from medicine, to fishing, to building houses, economy, farming, philosophy and science, nutrition, to sculpting. He’s kinda intellectualist, but also very practical and a bit artsy. And since we’ve always got along pretty well, he often showed me his sculptures which he doesn’t do for many people and I always loved them. Visual arts aren’t very accessible for the visually impaired, but sculpture is a bit more as we can at least feel it, if not recognise what it represents. So I’ve always felt like sculpture is something I am a bit fascinated with, but at the same time is still kind of enigmatic for me.
What I also can say I admire, going back to music for a while, is playing harp. Gosh, when someone can do it, I just love them! I love harp so so much, no matter if it’s a classic harp, Celtic harp, or even Finnish kantele, I like many kinds of harps, although Celtic harp rules. So yeah I absolutely love to hear it and I’m a bit jealous about people who can play it but admire them a lot at the same time.
What art forms do you admire or respect?
Hi guys! 🙂
Today I would love to share with you a song by Georgia Ruth Williams who is a really great singer and harpist from Wales, singing both in English and Welsh. I absolutely love her voice, harmonies in her music and how she plays harp. Hope you’ll like her too. Tomorrow I’m going to share her another song, this time in English.