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Folklore: The music of Wales

Peace 01 Nov 07 - 01:11 PM
mg 01 Nov 07 - 01:25 PM
Mick Tems 01 Nov 07 - 01:31 PM
Peace 01 Nov 07 - 01:50 PM
Mick Tems 01 Nov 07 - 02:21 PM
Peace 01 Nov 07 - 02:24 PM
sian, west wales 01 Nov 07 - 02:30 PM
Peace 01 Nov 07 - 02:37 PM
Mick Tems 01 Nov 07 - 02:47 PM
sian, west wales 01 Nov 07 - 02:54 PM
Peace 01 Nov 07 - 02:54 PM
mg 01 Nov 07 - 02:55 PM
Peace 01 Nov 07 - 02:57 PM
Peace 01 Nov 07 - 03:00 PM
Peace 01 Nov 07 - 04:22 PM
sian, west wales 01 Nov 07 - 04:39 PM
bubblyrat 01 Nov 07 - 04:39 PM
Buddug 01 Nov 07 - 05:38 PM
Peace 01 Nov 07 - 09:49 PM
sian, west wales 02 Nov 07 - 05:53 AM
Buddug 02 Nov 07 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,ifor 02 Nov 07 - 09:16 AM
Peace 02 Nov 07 - 10:18 AM
Splott Man 02 Nov 07 - 10:45 AM
Peace 02 Nov 07 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,Jeff 02 Nov 07 - 04:56 PM
Peace 02 Nov 07 - 05:42 PM
Peace 02 Nov 07 - 06:12 PM
Anne Lister 02 Nov 07 - 06:47 PM
sian, west wales 02 Nov 07 - 07:12 PM
GUEST,richd 02 Nov 07 - 07:53 PM
GUEST,albert 02 Nov 07 - 07:56 PM
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Les in Chorlton 03 Nov 07 - 04:13 AM
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Les in Chorlton 03 Nov 07 - 08:22 AM
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Chris in Portland 03 Nov 07 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,richd 03 Nov 07 - 02:47 PM
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Peace 03 Nov 07 - 03:39 PM
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Peace 03 Nov 07 - 04:14 PM
Jack Campin 03 Nov 07 - 04:16 PM
sian, west wales 03 Nov 07 - 04:32 PM
Peace 03 Nov 07 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Jeff 03 Nov 07 - 08:08 PM
Chris in Portland 04 Nov 07 - 10:03 AM
Chris in Portland 04 Nov 07 - 10:11 AM
sian, west wales 04 Nov 07 - 02:27 PM
Mick Tems 04 Nov 07 - 10:14 PM
GUEST,Jeff 04 Nov 07 - 10:56 PM
Anne Lister 05 Nov 07 - 03:33 AM
Splott Man 05 Nov 07 - 04:02 AM
Splott Man 05 Nov 07 - 04:08 AM
greg stephens 05 Nov 07 - 05:26 AM
Mick Tems 05 Nov 07 - 07:41 AM
Peace 05 Nov 07 - 10:42 AM
Mick Tems 05 Nov 07 - 11:01 AM
Peace 05 Nov 07 - 11:07 AM
Bryn Pugh 05 Nov 07 - 11:13 AM
Mick Tems 05 Nov 07 - 11:22 AM
sian, west wales 05 Nov 07 - 12:36 PM
Peace 05 Nov 07 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,albert 05 Nov 07 - 02:01 PM
Peace 05 Nov 07 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Jeff 05 Nov 07 - 11:33 PM
sian, west wales 06 Nov 07 - 04:39 AM
Bryn Pugh 06 Nov 07 - 05:40 AM
BanjoRay 06 Nov 07 - 09:51 AM
Chris in Portland 06 Nov 07 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,cyclelogic 06 Nov 07 - 10:09 PM
Crowdercref 07 Nov 07 - 05:48 PM
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GUEST,albert 08 Nov 07 - 02:27 AM
Les in Chorlton 08 Nov 07 - 03:57 AM
sian, west wales 08 Nov 07 - 04:21 AM
Peace 08 Nov 07 - 10:23 AM
GUEST,richd 08 Nov 07 - 03:25 PM
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sian, west wales 27 Jul 10 - 08:24 AM
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Phil Edwards 27 Jul 10 - 06:53 PM
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sian, west wales 28 Jul 10 - 04:47 AM
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sian, west wales 28 Jul 10 - 07:22 AM
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Phil Edwards 28 Jul 10 - 04:10 PM
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Splott Man 29 Jul 10 - 04:03 AM
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Phil Edwards 30 Jul 10 - 03:45 PM
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Subject: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 01:11 PM

I have a question to ask. It comes from my own ignorance. Bear with me.

Wales: it has its own literature, its own history, its own politics. Does it have its own music? That is, are there songs that specifically spring from a/the Welsh tradition? Are there musical instruments that originated in Wales? Is this a stupid question?

Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: mg
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 01:25 PM

Gosh...fantastic music...incredible singers of hymns and group choral songs...very wonderful male groups, often coal miners...there is other music of course as well...harp, etc...but the huge choruses..sometimes thousands of people...are what come to my mind...mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Mick Tems
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 01:31 PM

The pibgorn, pibgyrn, fiddle, triple harp, tabwrdd, crwth, pibacwd...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I estimate that Wales has approximately 3,000 songs and pretty amazing tunes. Despite Kim Howells' (a traitor to Wales) evil work, there are sessions all over the country. Sorry to be so short, but I must go out to Gwerinwyr Gwent rehearsals!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 01:50 PM

Part of the reason I asked is that I know at one time there were only 50,000 Welsh speakers left and the country has made a valiant effort to save/increase the use of its language. I was wondering whether its music had faced a similar fate. As to Welsh choirs, they are indeed world renown.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Mick Tems
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 02:21 PM

Not 50,000 Welsh speakers, but 250,000! Cymraeg (the Welsh language) is experiencing a boom at the moment. The University of Glamorgan's Welsh Department runs hundreds of Welsh learner classes (one of which I attend.) Don't forget, you don't have to speak Welsh to be a player of Welsh tunes, both traditional and written.

Mwynhauwch! (Enjoy!)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 02:24 PM

That is amazing, because 25 years ago there were but 50,000. Bravo for the Welsh.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 02:30 PM

Peace, I think there are a few quite recent threads on this, like this one on song and this one on the crwth . I work for trac and you'll find a great number of links to various societies, performers, etc on our website. Dr Price provides another valuable resource with his Mari Arts website. There's a good overview of Welsh instruments at this BBC Wales site but it falls down badly in that it doesn't discuss song. Weird, because the programme from which it grew did cover song. It's a big omission because one of the foundation blocks of Welsh music is how words - poetry - interact with instrumental music.

Re: choirs, yes, they make a mighty sound and are, historically, a major element of the Welsh 'musical nation'. They did, however, grow from an older tradition - that of the 'parti meibion' or male voice party - which is a smaller grouping, often less than 25 members. I tend to prefer these as they rely more on finesse than on producing a big wall of sound. There is a growing trend for these groups - often as 'pub choirs' - which I think is interesting.

This Saturday, trac is running a Plygain workshop. Plygain is a specific kind of Welsh carol singing, with the same roots as West Gallery singing, Shape Note singing, et al. Historically this was a 'men only' tradition but us females have elbowed our way in now. Well, except for the traditional closing Plygain carol (Plygain carols are sung as part of a specific Plygain service) and there would be a riot in Church if a female dared to join in THAT one. You may have come across a hymn popular in North America - All Poor Men and Humble. That is a direct translation and transplant of a Welsh Plygain carol, typical in its line and verse length of 17th century carols.

Am I right in thinking that you're from the Canadian prairies? There were a few Welsh immigrant communities there. There is a recording available from the Smithsonian of John Thomas, Bangor, Saskatchewan singing a Welsh carol of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" ilk. One track from the "Songs of Saskatchewan" LP

What else can we tell you?

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 02:37 PM

Are there what North Americans would call 'protest' songs? I'm thinking of the mines and slag heaps (some of which have killed children). What is the relationship of the Welsh to Great Britain? (I know it's PART of it, but how happy a part? What is the musical expression of Welsh nationalism?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Mick Tems
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 02:47 PM

The number of Welsh speakers has remained pretty static over the last 200 years. In the Glamorgan valleys, most of the population spoke Welsh, but was pretty sparse. The coal boom brought workers flooding in, but the actual number of Welsh speakers did not go down. Drive through Llanelli (or Pontardawe) and up to North Wales, and you will find people speaking Welsh - the more so once you get to the Llyn peninsula. Have you been misled over the Welsh language?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 02:54 PM

Answers on the back of a postcard?

Ha!

OK - 'protest' songs are a way of life here. Dr Price is currently working with trac to get his collection of old ballads 'n' stuff typed up so he knows a lot about that end of things. I don't know if it would be correct to say (?) that the bulk of the protest songs since the 1960s have been related to preservation of the Welsh language as well as the Welsh independence movement. There's also a strong pacifist movement in Wales so there have been some excellent songs on those lines. (Well, unless you don't agree with the pacifist movement - but even then the songs are still good songs.)

Re: the relationship of the Welsh to Great Britain ... that depends who you ask. Even some people who were heavily into full independence are resting on their oars now that Wales has a National Assembly (rather like a provincial government but with less power).

The musical expression of Welsh nationalism is divers. Pop has the greatest chance of getting media air-time, but usually only in Wales, and usually only on the Welsh-language channels. But there is also 'folk', jazz, classical, etc. written as a conscious expression of being Welsh. Some artists feel that simply singing in the Welsh language is, in itself, a gesture of national alignment. I'd venture to say that this is true, say, of Cerys Matthews either when she was with Catatonia or now as a solo artist.

Re: language statistics, you've left off a '0'. In 1921, there were 922,100 Welsh speakers who were 37.1% of the population. In 1981, 593,500 (19%), and in 2001, 582,400 (20.8%). Some years ago I took a fork in the career path which means I have things like the "Digest of Welsh Statistics 2003: National Assembly for Wales" at hand. Sad, isn't it?

Oh - and if you want to hear a Plygain carol by a very traditional family group there's a sound clip here. Thank God for Max's Linkmaker!

Glad to see you're interested in this stuff! I'm going to make some supper now!

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 02:54 PM

Possibly so. I understood in a university class that the number of Welsh speakers had dropped to about 50 thousand--that was close to 25-30 years ago. At that time the prof (or grad student) said there was an effort underway to increase that number.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: mg
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 02:55 PM

We had or have a Welsh community near Seattle in Black Diamond, a coal mining town. They used to come to Seattle to sing and it was wonderful...also communities throughout the Northwest including British COlumbia...I am about 3/8 Welsh I believe although that could include Cornish..my mother was a Williams..which is the third most common name in US I believe..Smith is first, Jones is 4th..no idea what is second...I checked on Jackson, Murphy, Garcia...but darned if I can figure out what it is. Interesting that 2/4 of the top US names are Welsh....Smith is McGowan in Irish so lots of Smiths would really be McGowans..and of course when people from Yugoslavia immigrated they were called Smith, Jones..anything that could be spelled easily..mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 02:57 PM

OK then. Thank you both. NOW, if I were to ask about a few books to read that would enlighten me about Wales, what would those books be?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 03:00 PM

Sian's trac link seems not to work. http://www.trac-cymru.org/


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 04:22 PM

Thanks for that info, mg.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 04:39 PM

Books? Definitely A History of Wales by Dr John Davies. Brook no imitations. Well ... unless you want to unload £60 plus postage and wait a couple of months then you could get the new Encyclopaedia of Wales .

That's all for general background. Then different chunks of history are written up by various people. If there's one thing Wales has a lot of, it's authors. Hopefully in a year or two we'll also have a new history of Welsh traditional music (English lang. publication). I know the author is on the last chapter, and University of Wales Press is waiting to publish it.

Thanks, mg, for the link. Don't know what happened there. We must be related. My mother has Williamses from Cornwall in her family and she reckons they came originally from Wales. Quite likely as the quarrymen used to travel (by sea) between North Wales, West Wales, and Cornwall, depending on where the work was. Interestingly, there's a song or two that generally are found only in North Wales but also crop up in one village in Pembrokeshire (Mathry). There was a quarry there and the supposition is that the songs travelled with the quarrymen.

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: bubblyrat
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 04:39 PM

Try " Hugh Green Was My Valet " !


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Buddug
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 05:38 PM

Hi Peace, just caught this thread. There is currently a study (it might have been published by now) into mitochondrial DNA (which passes untouched (apart from the odd accidental mutation) down the male line) across the UK. It's beginning to look as if the Welsh are descended from pre-Celts, i.e the stone age inhabitants of the British Isles, not just from the Celts as previously thought - who of course dwelt in these islands before the Romans, Saxons, Normans et al. Successive waves of invasion pushed them into the west of the country eventually - which explains the relationship between the Welsh, the Cornish (and the Bretons), whose languages are all Brythonic Celtic, and the Scots and the Irish (a lot of migration historically between these two lands), whose languages are Goedelic (Gaelic) Celtic.   Hope that helps.
!

Buddug


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 09:49 PM

Indeed it does. My only encounters with Welsh history, language or culture were in a university course to do with the Old English languagem and other than a request that we read "The Mabinogian" (more to ascertain the existence of a 'King Arthur' type figure in the literature, all else about Wales was incidental. Recently, I have had the pleasure of meeting a Welshman through Mudcat, and it struck me that I know very very little about the country, its history or people. Subsequently, I started this thread to try finding a place to start.

sian, west wales has been a Mudcat member likely for longer than I have. His posts (pardon me if you find this a bit embarrassing, sian) have always been erudite, to the point and helpful. I realize that a whole people cannot be extrapolated from an individual, but other Welsh people I have met have seemed to be equally 'nice'. So, my curiousity about Wales has been prodded. I don't have that long to live (in a relative sense--I'm 60 now) and I'd hate to shuffle off this mortal coil with that as an unanswered mystery. Thank all of you who have posted here because it certainly gives me places to start. And I shall.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 05:53 AM

Thank you for that, Peace. I won't be embarrassed by your comments re: 'erudite' although I think I fall far short of that description. I DO try to make comments which add to the debate in some sort of positive way, and that's the fault of 'Catter Snuffy. He once introduced me to a new 'Catter as a 'Catter who didn't give off a lot of "static" - that is, (I think) getting caught up in too many inconsequentials). I have cursed him often for this comment; it's kept me from throwing myself headlong into some of the best bitchy-slappy-fights here. Drat, and double drat. (I'm also Welsh Canadian so the 'nice' imperative is a genetic curse.) (But I'm getting old, so I can be cantankerous too)

I also don't find it (too) embarrassing that you think I'm a "he". You're in good company: Joe Offer for example. "Sion" is male; "Sian" is female.

Now I have to think of something else more relevant to the thread ... hmm.

OK - back to books. I'm thinking you might like "The Matter of Wales Epic Views of a small country" by Jan Morris. Essayist style rather than a full history like John Davies' book. Sioned Davies has just brought out a new translation of The Mabinogion if you're still interested in it. If you go to the gwales.com sight and search on "Mabinogion" you get various things of interest.

Music-wise, a good overview of Welsh music can be had on the CD The Rough Guide to the Music of Wales

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Buddug
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 06:58 AM

Just realised I didn't say - I live in North Wales, and my other half's first language is Welsh (I speak a fair amount, too, enough to hold my own in a conversation in the local pub)- it is very much still a living language - and they do still all sing on a Saturday night in the little village pub a mile and a half away; in Welsh, in English - last time we walked in and they were actuallysinging 'Shenandoah'... Quickly followed by old Welsh hymns, Ar Hyd y Nos, Suo Gan, you name it.

Buddug


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,ifor
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 09:16 AM

Try some of the books by the very respected and much missed Alexander Cordell who wrote about the industrialisation of the South Wales valleys.....wonderfully moving history.
For a starter try his book Song Of The Earth.
Ifor


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 10:18 AM

"I also don't find it (too) embarrassing that you think I'm a "he". You're in good company: Joe Offer for example. "Sion" is male; "Sian" is female."

OUCH. I do apologize, Sian. Another Mudcatter sent me a heads up on that and was kind enough to explain the etymology. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but nothin' beats plain old stupidity to help a guy put his foot in it.

I still think you are erudite--I checked that word and it's a good thing. Please excuse me. I am going to look for sack cloth and ashes.

And for the rest of you: You are real gems. I know in my own way I love the country I live in, warts and all. I could talk about it for hours: geography, cities, towns, regions, rivers, mountain ranges, music, government, but most of all it's the people I have come to love very deeply. Reading what the various posters have said here reminds me that pride is not relegated to Canadians alone. I am very happy that so many of you have taken the time to help educate me.

So, how's a guy say 'thank you' in Welsh?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Splott Man
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 10:45 AM

"Diolch yn fawr"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 11:02 AM

Well then, diolch yn fawr to all of you.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 04:56 PM

Bore da Peace!

A few years ago I did a cycle tour of Wales following the A470 from Conwy to Cardiff. Collected several recordings. The favorite of mine is by a fellow named Paul who was the owner of a music store called 'Gogs' in Llandudno. Very gracious was he as he played me several selections on whistle and accordian. I'll dig back through my stuff and post back here as I've got some books on Welsh history including the aforementioned 'A History of Wales'. I lent it along w/some other books to the daughter of a friend who became very interested in Welsh culture when she found out her ancestry was Welsh.

Anyway, my heritage is also Welsh. Michael Raven recorded a collection of tunes entitled 'Welsh Guitar' which is very, very good. Blodau'r Grug is a collection of Welsh dance tunes which may or may not be out of print.

If I turn up some stuff maybe I can arrange to copy some of the recordings to CD format and send them to you. Meanwhile, good on ya! for your interest in Wales...it's an endlessly facinating country.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 05:42 PM

Wow, THANK you, Jeff.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 06:12 PM

Man, oh, man (and lady) that country has LOTS of history. I have a question that may seem off the wall. But here it is anyway: Idris Davies' lyrics and Pete Seeger's music created a beautiful song (one I first heard on Pete's "We Shall Overcome" album recorded at Carnegie Hall in the early 1960s).

Bells of Rhymney
Idris Davies / Pete Seeger

Oh what will you give me
Say the sad bells of Rhymney
Is there hope for the future
Say the brown bells of Merthyr
Who made the mine owner
Say the black bells of Rhondda
And who robbed the miner
Say the grim bells of Blaina

They will plunder willy-nilly
Say the bells of Caerphilly
They have fangs, they have teeth
Shout the loud bells of Neath
Even God is uneasy
Say the moist bells of Swansea
And what will you give me
Say the sad bells of Rhymney

Throw the vandals in court
Say the bells of Newport
All would be well if if if if if if
Say the green bells of Cardiff
Why so worried, sisters, why
Sang the silver bells of Wye
And what will you give me
Say the sad bells of Rhymney


As sung by The Ian Campbell Folk Group


The song has always had a special meaning for me because my grandfather had been a coal miner in his youth when he lived in England. I won't remark on the obvious dangers of that work, or what I perceive to be the greed of the company owners. That said, has Davies included all the main mining districts?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Anne Lister
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 06:47 PM

Here's a little fairly shameless plug - we are setting up our home to be a writers' retreat for anyone who wants a place in Wales to come and work on a creative project (music or writing, we're not fussy!) We're in South Wales, on the edge of some beautiful scenery but also in an area with a fascinating industrial history.
If you're interested in coming to visit, PM me and I'll tell you more!

Anne


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 07:12 PM

Peace, somewhere there is a thread on the Bells of Rhymney. A good one too if I remember rightly.

Re: the valleys mentioned, they are mostly in south east Wales and are what we'd call "The Valleys" - those that radiate up from Newport, Cardiff and Swansea. I don't have much connection with the area but I wouldn't have thought of the Wye as being one of The Valleys, although it is 'a' valley, if you follow me. The Valleys were the main hub of coal mining, but coal was mined across the south west as far as, I suppose, south Pembrokeshire. There was coal mining in north east Wales as well and one of the most infamous mining disasters of Wales happened at Gresford near Wrexham. There are poems and even a hymn about it, and it rates as one of those 'touchstones' in Welsh memory.

And, of course, there was also gold, lead and copper mining, as well as quarrying, so the Welsh have done their fair share of rummaging about in Mother Earth's bloomers over the centuries. (The hulls of Nelson's ships were clad in Anglesey copper and I think the USA also used it in some of the republic's first coinage.)

Jeff, Blodau'r Grug is out of print indeed although one can still find copies here and there. The second volume is called Cadw Twmpath. Fortunately, there's more interest in republishing these days (with a revival in the instrumental tradition) so perhaps some will see light of day again.

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,richd
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 07:53 PM

That's right, the Wye is off the coalfield, so the silver (rich) bells would be happy and unworried, whilst the bells of the coalfield just to the south would be doing much worse. At the time the that Idris Davies wrote the words the eastern valleys were undergoing deep economic depression. Other coal mining areas of Wales, including west of Neath(hence the ambiguity) were more properous, because they mined anthracite. men from the Valleys around Merthyr and Rhymney would often travel west to work in the anthracite pits. Cardiff is south of the coalfield, hence their ambigous line. There's also a strand of sadness/loss in his poems about language too- Idris Davies was part of the last generation of mass working class Welsh language culture at the top of the valleys.

Sadly, as I look from my window above Merthyr and watch the heavy machinary ripping the top of the mountain opposite at Ffos Y Fran to get at the coal I am forced to reluctantly say that you could answer the brown bells of Merthyr by saying- 'not much hope for the future, sorry lads'.

If you are interested in the literature of the time and place in south Wales that Idris Davies is part of then there are a couple of writers worth looking out for- Gwyn Thomas and Lewis Jones, both Rhondda men. Some of their books have just been reprinted as part of the excellent Library of Wales. I don't know anything about any writers from north Wales, but the English language literature of industrial south Wales is very rich at the time of Idris Davies. As to conemporary writers there's Rachel Tresize from the Rhondda (is there a theme here?)and a whole bunch of tidy poets including Tony Curtis, Mike Jenkins.

There's some really good history books. Gwyn Alf Williams "When was Wales?" and "The Merthyr Rising" Dai Smith "Aneurin Bevan and the World of south Wales". Hywel Francis and him wrote "The Fed" heavy going but definitive.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,albert
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 07:56 PM

The western part of the coalfield that Sian mentions above was the anthracite coalfield which extended across to the Gwendraeth valley in the westan area which is at the heart of welsh speaking South Wales.
Anthracite is a much sought after hard coal used in industry but make no mistake the deat of the miners in 1985 at the hands of Thatcher's state machinery had terrible consequences on not only the coal industry [which was decimated ] but also on the social, cultural and civic fabric of the valleys from the Gwendraeth in the west right across to the eastern valleys.
Albert
The Song Of The Earth performance in Glynneath later this month should be very interesting and enjoyable as the turmoil in S


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,richd
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 08:05 PM

What is "The Song of the Earth"?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 11:59 PM

Semi-jackpot, Peace.

What I've been able to dig out so far is a cd made from a cassette recording of Paul from Gog's. It's 47 mins long @ 12 tracks. Couldn't find my copy of Blodnau'r Grug, but I'll keep at it. A Sian James recording called 'Gweini Tymor', again from cassette to CD. And Michael Raven's 'Welsh Guitar', 36 tracks in all. The Sian James and Michael Raven CDs may still be available. There's a book that goes w/t Michael Raven which I have...somewhere.

Let me know if you're interested in any of this.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 04:13 AM

Are Welsh dance tunes available on a website ?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 07:23 AM

Don't forget Robin Huw Bowen who has several publications of triple-harp tunes that contain fantastic dance tunes and are very useable for ceilidhs or twmpathau.
Here is a link to the Welsh Folk Dance Society which lists various publications.
Welsh Folk Dance publications


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Scooby Doo
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 07:51 AM

We did have until recently Siwsaun George until she passed away who sung in Welsh and her cd label was sain.



Scooby.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 08:22 AM

Thanks Mary, we are not Jones for nothing

Cheers

les jones


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,albert
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 08:51 AM

Song Of The Earth is the title of a novel by Alexander Cordell.Its a great read and the background to the novel is the industrialisation of the Welsh valleys in the early 19th century.
The novel deals with the attempt to take a canal barge out of one valley into another but Cordell's sense of history and the people of the valley makes the book come alive.Many in Wales actually got a sense of the vitality of our history through the reading of his books.Cordell was actually English and sadly died about 12 years ago.Check out his books like Song Of The Earth or The Fire People.Great stuff!
Albert


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 11:45 AM

Thanks to all for the great posts -
We're carrying on Welsh traditions here in Oregon too - doing 3 plygain carols for our Lessons and Carols service, and I'm doing some other Welsh carols for the Portland Welsh Society Xmas Tea.

Sian - what's the traditional last Plygain song you mentioned?

Dr. P - hope your song book can get published. Hoping that the new Welsh folk music center - Ty Siamas - will also get involved with similar projects, as well as the good folks at Sain.

Buddeg - we're planning a music-centered trip to N Wales next Fall - where's the pub you mentioned? What's on tap?

Peace - for a bit of Welsh music on a great Welshman's radio program, try Frank Hennessy's Celtic Heartbeat, archived on Radio Wales, and you might also like John ac Alun on Radio Cymry.

Diolch yn fawr i pawb, Chris in Portland


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,richd
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 02:47 PM

So the performance of "Song of the Earth" in Glyneath is a stage adaptation of the book? Is the adaptation any good?

yes, it would be good if Siwsan George were still with us. Wasn't "Traditional Songs of Wales" on Saydisk? Heard 9bach do "Can Merthyr" recently- very good version, also sang "Pontypridd". I do wonder about the wisdom of bass and drums though.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,albert
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 03:14 PM

Reply to Richd,
The performance in Glynneath is not a literal adaption of the Cordell.The performance takes its name and inspiration from the work of Cordell but is more of a free ranging view of the history of the valleys.

The performers are all linked to either the Pontneathvaughn Music Club or the Valley Folk Club in neighbouring Pontardawe.

However there was a full stage adaptation of the book about ten years ago by, I think, Theatre West Glamorgan which was critically and publicly acclaimed.
The performance in Glynneath will be a "homelier " presentation!!
albert


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,richd
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 03:17 PM

Soon after my last post I found the other thread. All is explained.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 03:39 PM

You folks are wonderful, and I'm beginning to get the idea that Welshmen/women are very scholarly with regard to their history.

Jeff,

I would appreciate any music from/about Wales. I notice we have no way to communicate other than this thread, and threads are not the best place to put e-mail addresses. Is there any chance you'd join Mudcat so we can exchange messages?



As an observation, I suspect that the Welsh are a very proud people, so please excuse me for asking the following questions.


What are the most important social issues in Wales?

In 1087 CE, William Rufus (son of William the Bastard) tried genocide on the Welsh people. From what I have been reading, the Welsh have been no strangers to war in the course of their history. Did that further 'unite' the people of Wales? And as an add-on to that, I have noticed that in some writings the region of South Wales seems to be accorded almost a separate accounting in the various histories. Am I imagining things or is there something more fundamental that I'm missing?

Does Wales have 'minority rights' problems?

In the 750s (?) CE, the Mercian king, Offa, built earthen works to keep the Welsh out (the Romans did the same to my to the north of England). What was the reason for Offa's act? Was it because the people were fearsome, bothersome, Welsh, what?



Please understand that it is very difficult to ask many of these things because I have NO intention of insulting anyone. If I do, it's from ignorance, not design.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,richd
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 04:04 PM

Wow Peace, that's a number of biguns. The most important social issues I think would vary a lot by the location of whose talking. So where I am the social issues are health and premature death, unemployment and underachievment amoung young people and how to cope with these to assist the survival of former industrial towns and villages. I also have an idea that this might be true for other communites in other areas of Wales.
One reason why south Wales might be treated seperately in some histories is that it is urban, (post) industrial and English speaking.It also has the majority of the population. The process by which the eastern valleys of the coalfield lost the Welsh language is both complex and painful, and I think that it caused real rifts within Welsh culure and nation which are still very problematical. Which brings to folksongs and history...One of the major products of south Wales is historians! Its taken very seriously


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 04:14 PM

Thank you, Rich D. I do realize that I have the ability to drive people crazy with questions and I appreciate your patience with me.

Wales has a thoroughly interesting history, and I think what I will do is look into a distance education course through one of Alberta's universities.

I tripped over the story of The Mumbles Train, then I checked the DT for songs about it. Are there any kicking around?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 04:16 PM

Somewhere I have an LP (never listened to it, I need to fix my record player) of a Welsh equivalent of the Scottish bothy song - Welsh=language songs created by seasonal gangs of agricultural workers. Somebody must be able to remind me what that genre is called and what the LP might have been.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 04:32 PM

I'm just back from running a Plygain workshop all day (really was great fun!) so I'm completely knackered. Apologies if I can't get to grips with some of the 'deeper' questions here. My brain is addled and my throat hurts (had to sing soprano; I should have retired my Top Eff years ago). So, Chris, the final song of a Plygain - sung ONLY by the men - is Carol y Swper. Until last year I (and everyone else, almost, on last year's workshop) thought this was so named because it was the closing carol before you went to the church vestry for a slap up meal. Not so. We hang our collective head in shame, as it turns out the 'Supper' is the same feast as referred to in many spirituals, ie. 'the welcome table', our feast in paradise, etc.

Jeff, Sian James is still going strong and has brought out a couple of albums in recent years - one is particularly 'trad'. I imagine it will be on the Sain website. I actually have a box of them in the boot of my car to return to her someday but that's something only my Santee might be interested in.

Peace, I may yet think of something useful to say about issues in Wales ... but can't think of any offhand now that wouldn't be cured by more people making more music together, which keeps it nicely in the 'music of Wales' category.

Off for a quick cuppa tea and feet up.

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 04:35 PM

May the pillow on which you rest your feet be as soft as your heart.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 08:08 PM

Peace,

Yes, I'll join the mudcat asap. As an interesting bit of history Hywel Dda(Howell the Good) developed a system of laws granting significant rights to women, such as 1/2 of property upon divorce, etc. This set of documents preceded the Magna Carta by 300 years. Also, most of the surviving documents are written in Welsh and not Latin like most of the documents of the time period. The property rights guaranteed women didn't become part of English law for over a thousand years from the dates of the Law of Hywel.

And check out Owain Glyndwr and related history.

My personal favorite, sort of explains the relentless pride in language and culture felt by the Welsh. In 1193 Giraldus Cambrensis recorded a speech by an elderly citizen of Pencader to Henry II of England:

"This nation, O King may now, as in former times be harassed, and in great measure weakened and destroyed by you and other powers, and it will also prevail by its laudable exertions, but it can never be totally subdued through the wrath of man, unless the wrath of God shall concur. Nor do I think that any other nation than this of Wales, or any other language, whatever may hereafter come to pass, shall on the day of severe examination before the Supreme Judge, answer for this corner of the earth."

Strong words. A remarkable combination of deference and defiance.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 04 Nov 07 - 10:03 AM

thanks, Sian - Carol Y Super is in Hen Carolau Cymru, and I'll pass it on to our music director for next year. Can you - or others - recommend a good songbook of other Xmas carols in Welsh?

Jeff - thanks for the great posts - croeso i Cathbaw!

Chris


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 04 Nov 07 - 10:11 AM

Forgot to mention this great site and info on the great plygain cd that was produced last year by Sian James -
parti cut lloi

Chris


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 04 Nov 07 - 02:27 PM

Thank you Peace - the pillow was indeed soft, and I'm ready for it again now. Spent the afternoon on a guided walk along Llansteffan beach with a geological expert from our National Museum. Very interesting. (Went from the village, up the estuary to Scott of the Antarctic's summer home, and back.)

Jeff, my friends are impressed that I learned about Hywel Dda (whose memorial gardens aren't far from me) in Canadian High School, as one of the 5 great lawmakers of the human race. Darned if I can remember who the rest were: Moses, Hamurabi, Hywel Dda + ? + ?    I imagine the Magna Carta must have been in there somewhere ...

I think there's a plaque in Pencader (just north of here) with the Old Man's words on it.

Chris, I agree: aren't Parti Cut Lloi good? And really funny in live performance too. They are of the tradition from which male voice choirs grew. The CD does have 3 (I think) Plygain carols on it but the rest are 'other'. Re: carol books, Gwasg Pantycelyn published two in the 1980s - "Awn i Fethlem" and "Wrth y Breseb" - but they're largely Welsh translations from other countries/languages and I wouldn't be surprised if they're out of print. Rhiannon Ifans, who ran our workshop yesterday, has published a collection of Plygain carols in 2003 - "Yn Dyrfa Weddus" - through Cymdeithas Llyfrau Ceredigion. The most recent publications of OLD carols (Plygain and other ) is "Hen Garolau Cymru" published last year by Cwmni Cyhoeddi Gwynn - excellent selection of 60 carols.

Oh - and 'cathbaw' would translate as ... well, something to do with cats, but not mud, tho' just as messy! 8-}

Peace, if you PM me with an address and a few guidelines re: your musical interests I'll see what I can dig up to send to you.

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Mick Tems
Date: 04 Nov 07 - 10:14 PM

Hi, Peace,

I'm just flitting around, keeping tabs on this very friendly and learned discussion. Right now, Taplas (the all-Wales glossy magazine relating to folk and suchlike) is being produced, and I'm awfully busy - so that's why I haven't contributed too much. Thanks for starting this thread - the time is 3:10am, and I'm just about to fall into bed. I'll be sound asleep by the time my feet hit the pillow...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 04 Nov 07 - 10:56 PM

OMG, this is killing me!...in a good way. I've got two maps on the wall of my bike-stuff room. They're the OS Landranger #s 115 and 116 of the coastal area of North Wales from Angelsey over to Rhyl or thereabouts. This thread is making me ache for a visit. My wife got me a Welsh flag(red dragon) cycling shirt from foska.com for Christmas last year and I wear it on group rides once in a while. It ALWAYS fosters conversations re Wales.

Sian-Thank you for letting me know about the plaque w/t old man's words near Pencader...it'll be on my list of 'must visits' when we come over.   Have you been to 'Devil's Bridge' near Aberystwyth? Beautiful area.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Anne Lister
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 03:33 AM

South and West Wales are also beautiful, you know ...

Anne


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Splott Man
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 04:02 AM

On the subject of pro


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Splott Man
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 04:08 AM

Sorry I started and didn't finish.

Regarding protest songs, there are of course the "gutter choir" songs which were born out of mining disputes.

I'm sure Dr Price will have more to say on the matter, but two examples I know: A Miner's Life, which in this area is sung to the tune Calon Lan, it later got set in the US to Life Is Like a Mountain Railroad, which is the more commonly known version in the UK; also When the Coal Comes From the Rhondda to the tune When They call the Roll up Yonder.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 05:26 AM

Splott Man: very interesting, your comments about "A Miner's Life". Are you saying the song is Welsh in origin, and it was first sung to Calon Lan? Your post is slightly ambiguous. When would this have been?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Mick Tems
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 07:41 AM

It's Welsh, and sung to the tune of Calon Lan, a big hit in Welsh Victorian times. The chorus "Keep your your hands upon your wages and your eyes upon the Scale" is a direct reference to The Sliding Scale, which the South Wales Miners' Federation struck in protest to overcome. Over the years, the South Wales miners emigrated far and wide to America, from Scranton PA to California, and they carried the protest song The Miner's Life with them. The Folk Process mixed The Miner's Life up with the American Gospel song Life Is Like A Mountain Railroad, and once again it crossed the Atlantic, where Durham colliers sung their version from learned from American miners.

To me, it doesn't matter in the slightest if we - or you - are singing the "correct" song. That's the Folk Process for you. To the Durham miners, their song is every bit as valid as our Miner's Life -perhaps more so, as they have carried on the tradition. That's a thought: on Wednesday at Llantrisant Folk Club, I'm going to sing the Welsh version of A Miner's Life (which I'm proud to say I collected) and re-establish it again!

Reference: A Miner's Life, from my 1977 solo album Gowerton Fair (SFA074).

Incidentally, I DID write When The Coal Comes From The Rhondda, from a fragment I gleaned from four South Wales miners who were having a drink and a sing-song on a ferry to Ireland. This ubiquitous song, known as an anthem to Welsh choirs everywhere, is very incomplete - in fact, it peters out after only one verse. Our Calennig version is the earliest and the most complete - and I took the liberty of changing the chorus, too!

Mick Tems


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 10:42 AM

I have been extremely busy with work and emergency calls. I'm sorry to have been away. I expect not to be back much until Wednesday, but thank you all so so much for your guidance and friendship. I will attend to requests of me by week's end. Just can't get to it sooner, my apologies.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Mick Tems
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 11:01 AM

I have remembered When The Coal Comes From The Rhondda now! I can't place the document just at this minute, but I think the words are:

Pass me my pick and shovel, butty,
I'm going down this hole for some coal.
Pass me my pick and shovel, butty,
I'm going down this hole for some coal.

...and that was it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 11:07 AM

"Subject: RE: What song do you want at your funeral?
From: GUEST,Dr Price
Date: 16 Sep 06 - 06:12 AM

Our good friend Murray came from Bracknell in leafy Berkshire, but he loved South Wales. He died of lung cancer, and his will requested that we sing the miners' "gutter choir" union marching song When The Coal Comes From The Rhondda at his funeral. We journeyed across the Severn Bridge, and sang with gusto to our dear pal in the coffin:

You men of Tonypandy who dig the veins of coal
(With my little pick and shovel, I'll be there!)
The boss may own the colliery, but he'll never own your soul
(With my little pick and shovel, I'll be there!)

When the coal comes from the Rhondda,
When the coal comes from the Rhondda,
With my shovel and my pick and my little lamp and wick,
When the coal comes from the Rhondda, I'll be there!

The funny thing was that Murray was an arch-Conservative, but he really liked that song!

I take my name from Dr William Price, genius, visionary and self-styled Druid who lived in Caerffili and Llantrisant in the 19th century. Given that Dr Price opened the way for cremation, how about Fire by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown?"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 11:13 AM

Hwyl, bob !

I thought 'cathbaw' was 'cat sh*t', and if I think 'Mudcat' in Cymraeg (Diolch chi, dyn Splott !) it is 'cath llaca'.

Peace, if I can help, PM me. Thanks for your friendship.

Other books by Cordell - 'The Hosts of Rebecca' ; 'Rape of the Fair Country' and, if you can find it (not about Cymru) 'If you believe the Soldiers', which is so plausible, it might give you nightmares


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Mick Tems
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 11:22 AM

Or:

When the coal comes from the Rhondda down that Taff Vale railway line,
(with my little pick and shovel, I'll be there!)
When the coal comes from the Rhondda down that Taff Vale railway line,
(with my little pick and shovel, I'll be there!)

I'll be there, I'll be there,
with my little pick and shovel, I'll be there,
When the coal comes from the Rhondda
with my little pick and shovel, I'll be there!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 12:36 PM

Bryn, re: cath baw that's the point I was trying to make, but with delicacy verging on obscurity.

Jeff, I go through Devil's Bridge quite often. Two of the great Welsh ethnomusicologists/tradition bearers live a few miles south of there, and Robin Huw Bowen, the triple harper, lives a few miles west of there. I've had it in my mind to organize a picnic/session for folkies on the narrow-guage rail line some day ...

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 12:49 PM

The Devil's Bridge


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,albert
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 02:01 PM

Can I just take the time out to invite any Mudcatters who are visiting Wales in the future to come along to the Valley Folk Club in Pontardawe near Swansea .We meet for a singers night on the first friday of the month and have a guest performer on the third friday.
The venue is the Ivy Bush on Brecon Rd just a few minutes walk from the centre of Ponty.
Two months ago a party of some 25 Japanese students had a great time singing and listening at the singers night and one of our regulars was able to launch into a Japanese song she had learnt previously at a voice workshop.A very good night!
albert


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 02:02 PM

Perhaps that another question then, Albert. How popular are such events in Wales?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 05 Nov 07 - 11:33 PM

Sian,
Are you familiar w/t Cambrian Folk Society? There was a 'teaching session' at the Cambrian Hotel in Aberystwyth by a fellow named Peter who is a very good fiddler/whistle player. This was a few years ago. Another person involved was a songwriter named Brian Williams who's just about the strongest rhythm guitarist I've ever encountered. Also, Clive Jones who plays upright bass and had a Bluegrass band called 'Whiskey Before Breakfast'. I've got one of their cassettes around someplace, but alas am unable to locate it. The amount and level of talent in the Aberystwyth area is really quite astonishing. The band WBB had phenomenal banjo and fiddle players both. Their names escape me. BTW, I took the ngr train up to DB and stayed at a small hostel in a town whose name begins w/a Y, but again my memory deserts me.

Anne: It's funny you would mention opening your house up for writer's retreats, etc. as my wife and I were talking about doing the same thing here in rural Tennessee(about 35 miles sw of Nashville)

I really have to sign up so I can send/receive PM...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 04:39 AM

As an aside, the Welsh name for Devil's Bridge is Pont ar Fynach - Bridge on the Mynach (River) and Mynach means 'monk'.

Jeff, I don't know that particular group in Aber' but I think I know people who may be involved with it. Because of the University in Aberystwyth there tends to be a lot of talent about, and groupings tend to ebb and flow. 'Catter Banjo Ray, for instance, went to Aber and played - I think - Bluegrass which got him a gig on a Welsh language TV programme, produced by the ethnomusicologist whom I mentioned earlier. There's coincidence for you.

The Valleys Folk Club is excellent and has been around a lonnnngggg time. There's a list of clubs both at Dr Price's site (folkwales) and at trac's site. We at trac are also building up details of sessions which are springing up everywhere but we can't post all of them on the site; the current entertainment licencing situation in the UK means that some of them are operating slightly below the licencing authorities' radar.

When I first moved to Wales in 1980 there were some folk clubs around, and many pubs would break out into song at the drop of a hat. The folk clubs are mostly still with us (and mostly in the south east of Wales, I think I'm right in saying). Pub singing, and singing at big sports events, has gone into serious decline, but instrumental sessions (and some mixed song/instrument sessions) have started appearing in the last 10 years or so. We're also getting more one, two and three day instrumental workshops, which are a totally new development.

Mick and Ned, I'd be very interested in hearing more about the gutter choirs. The big male voice choirs always grab the headlines but the small pub choirs, Plygain groups, etc are (to me) so much more interesting, sociologically speaking. I think Cor Coch Caerdydd (Cardiff Red Choir) are great; would I be correct in thinking they belong to the lineage of the gutter choir?

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 05:40 AM

Anwyl Sian,

If you do organise a folkie trip on the narrow gauge, please let me know - my beloved and I would love it.

To my shame, the only songs in Cymraeg I have (apart from Dafydd y Gareg Wen, and the Anthem) are 'Mentra, Gwen and Ble'r yw
ti' n fyned.

I am not a native speaker of Cymraeg, having learned it as a second language. Being semi-retired I can follow my heritage. That said, there is little Cymraeg spoken in Northants !

Kind regards, Bryn.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: BanjoRay
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 09:51 AM

As Sian said, I got involved in a band when I was in Aberystwyth University in the sixties. I played banjo with The Virginia Bootleggers (hah!), not a Bluegrass band but an Old Time band - we nicked all our material off the New Lost City Ramblers, though we used to sing folk and shanties as well. We used to do an annual session trip on the Devil's Bridge railway, with our Old Time band, the college New Orleans Jazz band and lots of beer - really good craic. I definitely recommend a bunch of folkies to sort a trip out.
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 09:57 AM

Sorry for the horrendous translation of Mudcat - shouldn't have relied on my little pocket dictionary!! Always a problem trying to make a literal translation in another language.
Sian, I'll be looking at your posting of sessions, hoping to plan our trip next year to visit a few and to hear some of those pub choirs.
I'm also using Ralph Maud's book, Guide to Welsh Wales for making plans to see sites off the regular tourist stops - if anyone has thoughts on other similar sources, I'd be much appreciative.
Chris


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,cyclelogic
Date: 06 Nov 07 - 10:09 PM

Ok, Peace I'm in! Formerly Guest/Jeff    PM me and we'll arrange to get you copies of the stuff I have. It'll take a little while as my wife has to show me how to use the cd burner.

Sian-Thank you for your responses. I've got a load of questions, but no time at the moment, so I'll post back later.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Crowdercref
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 05:48 PM

Perhaps one could add to this fine thread that until c.1600 Welsh Harp and Crwth music had a fine instrumental tradition with scales, structures and forms effectively unknown on the downhill side of Offa's dyke. This tradition, called cerdd dant, (the craft of strings) parallelled cerdd dafod (the craft of the tongue). Together they were the two great genres of bardic art. The first mention of such things seems to be in the time of King Hywell Dda, (10th century). Some of the structures are alleged to have been codified in the 12th century. The music was central to the eisteddfodau of the 15th and 16th centuries. It's only in the last two decades that scholars have really got to grips with the detail of this music.

It's Welsh, unique, and worthy of celebration!

oll an gwella,

Crowdercref


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Nerd
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 01:44 AM

Hi Bruce et al,

I agree that we lost a great one when Siwsann George passed away; I knew her slightly and loved her music. Her solo CD was indeed on Saydisc, not Sain. It's very much worth looking for. Siwsann was also the main singer for Mabsant, who did record for Sain.

Jack Campin asked about the Welsh equivalent of the Bothy Song; I think you mean the Llofft-Stabal, or stable-loft songs. The Welsh Folk Museum did a series of LPs on different traditional song styles in Wales, including this one. They were released through Sain Records, and Sain has put out the LLofft-Stabal record and the Plygain carol record together on one CD.

I'd agree that the Rough Guide CD is a good starting place. Sain also put out a couple of good compilations, Goreuon Canu Gwerin Newydd and Gorau Gwerin. With those three CDs, you'd have a really good cross-section of Welsh folk.

There's also a very good Welsh-language performer in the US: Jodee James, who lives in New Jersey. Click here to visit her site.

For fiction concerning the Wales/England relationship, I'd explore the works of Edith Pargeter, who also wrote as Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael, etc.) Pargeter had two series, the Brothers of Gwynedd quartet and The Heaven Tree trilogy, that had a lot to do with the relationship between the two countries in medieval times.

That's about it from me. I've been listening to Welsh folk music when I can for years, but only got to visit Wales for the first time this summer!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,albert
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 02:27 AM

Reply to Peace
I would say that folk music is popular in Wales but with reservations. The folk club I go to in Pontardawe is working hard to pull in audiences but we need more people to come along.Pontardawe has an arts centre and the place is usually packed out for gigs by Carthy and Swarbrick or Bellowhead. Pontardawe also has a lively festival which has moved away from its original folk roots to encompass other forms such as rock .
However,
there are lots of musicians in the area we do not see or who do not feel the need to come along so there is much more that needs to be done to make people feel welcome!
We are talking about workshops for beginners and specialist instruments .

In the meantime the great scottish singer,Ian Bruce is appearing at the club on the 16th November and all are most welcome to come along!
[Ivy Bush,Brecon Rd at 8.30 ].
albert


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 03:57 AM

When was music first printed in Wales rather than written by hand? Was it fact ever written by hand?

I feel another thread coming on!

Cheers

Les Jones


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 04:21 AM

There are specialists on printing in Wales. E.Wyn James at University of Wales Cardiff is one; I think his particular interests re: printing are in ballad sheets and hymn books but he has a sound knowledge of the rest. He once told me of going to an international ballad symposium and a word expert - English - expressed his surprise that working class balladeers who wrote and printed their own material seemed to be found across the UK but next to none in Wales. The twit had only been looking at English language sources. 'Expert' my foot. He was researching a time when large swathes of Wales were 80% Welsh speaking (some higher than that) and it hadn't occurred to him that this might be a factor.

Of course, the most famous hand-written source is the Robert ap Huw manuscript.

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Peace
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 10:23 AM

Thanks to all of you. I have been unable to keep up with this thread, but I promise to back to it on Saturday.

Nerd: Makes my heart warm that you chose to post here. Thank you. (I will now go dry my eyes.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,richd
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 03:25 PM

re 'Gutter Choirs' is there a tradition of them? I assume that the name refers to groups of unemployed/blacklisted miners from south-east Wales in the late 20s, early 30s who busked cinema/theatre queus in LOndon. If that's the case my Grandfather, blacklisted by Powell Duffryn from the Merthyr pits, played the mouth-organ with one in the late 20s. It was something he was a bit ashamed of, and wouldn't have wanted to repeat I doubt. Didn't Paul Robeson write about encountering one in London, which helped start his relationship with Wales. There's certainly photos of them. My Grandad said they sang hymns- 'Calon Lan'- tune of 'Miners lifeguard' and music halls, also 'Did 'ew ever' (welsh and english). When prosperity returned he did act with my great Uncle round the Miners Halls and clubs with banjo and harmonica. They were very good, they say but I never saw them. The Red Choir come froma bit different strata and tradition. I rember individual members from Miners' support groups and CND actions at The Royal Ordinance Factory in Cardiff and so on. More in the Gutyter Choir Tradition might be the Onllwyn Choir of the 884-85 strike.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 20 Dec 08 - 12:51 PM

I'm reopening the thread to draw attention to a recent CD of plygain singing from Sain records. The CD Ar Dymor Gaeaf contains a variety of beautiful songs, including some from Parti Cut Lloi who were mentioned earlier in this thread. I've just been listening to the singing and I can recommend the CD almost without reservation (a lyric sheet with English translations would have have been nice!).
There's a very good article on Plygain singing by Rhiannon Ifans in ontrac magazine #19 which can be downloaded as a PDF. She is one of the singers on the CD and is also an expert on the plygain tradition.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 20 Dec 08 - 04:55 PM

Any chance of a sample at the Beech on Wednesday 7 January?

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,Richard Abertawe
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 11:06 AM

Ive just bought the CD "ar dymor gaeaf" and, like Mathew (Edwards), would welcome a sight of the lyrics - but in Welsh not English. I have some Welsh but am finding it difficult to recognise the words. Can anyone advise where I might obtain lyrics to plygain singing. I've been checking the Web but w/out success.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 11:33 AM

There are great plygain songbooks in Welsh for sale at Gwales. We did Ar Gyfer Heddiw'r Bore at church last year, but we got snowed out this year.
Chris in icy OR


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 08:24 AM

Rather than start a new thread, let me refresh this one with a list of 'folky' events happening at this year's National Eisteddfod. This year, the Eisteddfod is in Ebbw Vale for a week, starting this coming Saturday. The majority (all?) the societies involved in trad music are, once again, coming together under one roof: "Ty Gwerin". Once you've paid to get on the field, most of these are free.

Ty Gwerin Stand 713-716

home to
? trac ? Clera ? Welsh Folk Song Society ? Ty Cerdd
? Welsh Folk Dance Society ? Voluntary Arts Wales
? Gwyl Cerdd Dant ? Cymdeithas Cerdd Dant Cymru

Free workshops, demonstrations and music activities throughout the week
Come and watch Trefor Owen, clogmaker, and Marcus Butler, instrument maker, at their crafts.

Saturday 31 July

9.00 Craftsmen at work - come and meet the makers (TG)
11.00 Opening Tea-Party (TG)
11.00 Isca Morris, Performance Stage 2 (Llwyfan Perfformio 2)
13.00 Folk dance performance: Isca Morris, Neuadd Dawns
14.00 'Come Try the Harp', a workshop for complete beginners with Gill Madley, held in the Learners' Tent (Maes D)
14.15 "Alawon Gwerin y Cymoedd", in the Pabell Lên, with contributions from: Parti Ysgol Gymraeg Brynmawr, Dawnswyr Bro Taf, Kate Evans, Eluned Holloman, Iwan Gruffydd
15.00 Folk dance performance: Cwmni Gwerin Pontypwl, Neuadd Dawns
16.00 Informal session: Come to sing! (songsheets available) Bring your instruments! (TG)
Late Mynediad Am Ddim, Maes C

Sunday 1 August

11.00 Gwerinwyr Gwent, Performance Stage 2 (Llwyfan Perfformio 2)
13.00 Folk dance performance: Dawnswyr Blaenau Gwent, Neuadd Ddawns
14.00 Folk dance performance: Gwerinwyr Gwent, Neuadd Ddawns
15.00 Twmpath Dawns for children, Neuadd Ddawns
16.00 Hei di Ho: Singing, dancing and instruments for children, Neuadd Ddawns

Monday 2 August

9.00 Craftsmen at work - come and meet the makers (TG)
12.15 Traditional music at the National Library stand: Angharad Jenkins and Patrick Rimes from Wales' young supergroup Calan
13.00 Folk dance performance: Dawnswyr Rhondda Cynon Taf, Neuadd Ddawns
13.10 Heather Jones, Llwyfan Perfformio 1 (Performance Stage 1)
14.00 Twmpath for children, Neuadd Ddawns
14.00 Workshop: 'Try a fiddle' - for complete beginners, with Rhian Evan Jones (TG)
15.00 Folk dance performance: Dawnswyr Gwerin Pen y Fai, Neuadd Ddawns
16.00 Informal session: Bring your instruments! Come to sing! (songsheets available) (TG)
17.00 Heather Jones, Llwyfan Perfformio 1 (Performance Stage 1)
Late Tecwyn Ifan, Maes C

Tuesday 3 August

9.00 Craftsmen at work - come and meet the makers (TG)
12.30 'Paned a Phennill' with Mair Tomos Ifans - verse-writing workshop (TG)
12.30 Traditional music at the National Library stand: pipe duo Dwylaw Chwyth
13.00 Heather Jones, Llwyfan Perfformio 1 (Performance Stage 1)
13.00 Tecwyn Ifan, Llwyfan Perfformio 2 (Performance Stage 2)
14.00 Workshop: pipes with Antwn Owen-Hicks of Dwylaw Chwyth (TG)
16.00 Informal session: Come to sing! (songsheets available) Bring your instruments! (TG)
16:00 Step-dancing workshop and demonstration, Neuadd Ddawns
17.00 Bagad Pibau Morgannwg, Llwyfan Perfformio 1(Performance Stage 1)

Wednesday 4 August

9.00 Craftsmen at work - come and meet the makers (TG)
11.00 Mansel Thomas Memorial Lecture in the Studio. Ben Rees on The life and workof Mansel Thomas, with illustrations and music by Terry Gilmore-James
12.00 Ty Cerdd Lecture in the Studio: Dr Prys Morgan, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Wales, Swansea on Lady Llanover - Gwenynen Gwent
12.00 Traditional music at the National Library stand: Guto Dafis - melodeon and voice
13.00 Workshop: Flute, with Elin Roberts. All levels welcome (TG)
13.00 Folk dance performance: Dawnswyr Blaenau Gwent at the Neuadd Ddawns
14.30 Workshop: Try a harp with Telynau Teifi - players and beginners welcome (TG)
15.00 Folk dance performance: Dawnswyr Caerdydd, Neuadd Ddawns
16.00 Informal session: Bring your instruments! Come to sing! (songsheets available) (TG)
Late Sesh Bach, Maes C

Thursday 5 August

9.00 Craftsmen at work - come and meet the makers (TG)
12.00 Music at the National Library stand: Brigyn
12.00 Dawnswyr Merthyr, Neuadd Ddawns
13.30 Workshop: Cerdd Dant ensemble, with Huw Ffowcs (TG)
14.00 Folk dance performance: Cwmni Gwerin Pontypwl, Gwerinwyr Gwent - Neuadd Ddawns
15.00 Welsh Folk Song Society presents Catherine Young, "Dehongli canu gwerin mewn dawns" ("Interpreting folk song through dance") (TG)
16.00 Informal session: Come to sing! (songsheets available) Bring your instruments! (TG)

Friday 6 August

9.00 Craftsmen at work - come and meet the makers (TG)
12.00 Traditional music at the National Library stand: Bethan Nia - harp and voice
13.00 Folk dance performance: Dawnswyr Blaenau Gwent at the Neuadd Ddawns
13.00 Heather Jones, Performance Stage 1 (Llwyfan Perfformio 1)
15.00 Gymanfa Cerdd Dant - cerdd dant singing session with Arfon Williams (TG)
15.00 Heather Jones, Maes D
16.00 Informal session: Bring your instruments! Come to sing! (songsheets available) (TG)

Saturday 7 August

9.00 Craftsmen at work - come and meet the makers (TG)
12.00 Workshop - mandolin for beginners, with Roland Emmanuel (TG)
13.00 Folk dance performance: Dawnswyr Rhondda Cynon Taf, Neuadd Ddawns
14.00 Dafydd Iwan, Performance Stage 2 (Llwyfan Perfformio 2)
14.00 Folk dance performance: Brandywine Cloggers at the Neuadd Ddawns
14.00 Meic Stevens, Performance Stage 2 (Llwyfan Perfformio 2)
14.00 Informal session: Come to sing! (songsheets available) Bring your instruments! (TG)
16.00 Dafydd Iwan, Performance Stage 2 (Llwyfan Perfformio 2)
Late Meic Stevens, Maes C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 05:40 PM

1. Best wishes for a successful event, Sian.

2. About three years ago, Les in Chorlton asked if there are any Welsh dance tunes on the web. I googled 'Chwi Fechgyn Glan Fri,' which I happen to know is a Welsh dance tune. It led me to this site:

offers Welsh tunes

(Click on Tunes)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 06:53 PM

That's a frustrating site - any number of tunes, but not in any apparent order.

To my certain knowledge Les has been playing at least one Welsh tune for several years now - "Finger piece" (Pwt ar y bys), better known by its phonetically-rendered name of "Buttered peas".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 10:20 PM

It might help some people to have the Welsh tunes grouped by type, but not to most. Why not just bring up the tunes and play them?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 10:38 PM

Here's the URL for Contemplator's site, which has lovely songs:

http://www.contemplator.com/bycount.html


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 04:47 AM

That's odd, leeneia: Aidan Sheehan was just asking me a couple of days ago about Chwi Fechgyn as he's using it in some beginners classes over the next few months.

We're actually pretty well off with publications of dance tunes, and general instrumental tunes, these days. The folk orchestra, Y Glerorfa, has just published a small 'volume' - "Hobed" - of some of its repertoire (for harp, fiddle, flute), for example. I'm also looking forward to getting my hands on a new book next week, coincidentally titled Pwt ar y Bys, "60 Welsh folk songs for beginners: for fiddle, flute, whistle, pipes; with chords for guitar. Two CDs accompanying with each tune being played through twice (the first time, slowly)Price £10"

It's a pity the Welsh Traditional Music site has been inactive for so long. The guy who set it up had a very good heart.

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 05:07 AM

leeneia - I was thinking more of having the titles come up in alphabetical order, so that you knew whether a title you were thinking of was likely to come up on the next page or the next page but ten. But if the site's inactive there's no point moaning about features it doesn't have. It certainly looks like a good collection of tunes.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,KP
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 06:15 AM

For anyone interested in a wonderful place to stay or have a workshop in North Wales, I can hugely recommend the Trigonos Centre:
Trigonos Centre

I did a workshop there for the University of Bangor last month, and its a stunning location in the Nantlle valley looking up to the west side of Snowdon. Sadly I didn't have an instrument but at one of the students I was working with is a harpist. We had 5 welsh speakers in the group and they were very interesting about the fact that Welsh has distinct accents and dialects in a very small geographic area. Apparently its possible to for a native speaker to tell which valley another native speaker comes from!

As an Anglo-Saxon, I do applaud the efforts of the Welsh and Scots Gaelic communities to try to keep their language going in the face of the relentless tide of English - there's something wonderful about the sound of the speech and song, even if I don't know what they are saying!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 07:22 AM

David Francis and Simon Thoumire ran two of their Distil workshops at Trigonos Centre last year. It seemed to work very well. I put them on to it; I'd been looking at it for a trac event but it proved too small. Spectacular setting.

Who was the harpist?

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 12:00 PM

Looking for a particular tune? Here's good news. Google speaks Welsh. Type the name of the tune into the search box, and it will find it for you.

It would be interesting to know which valley Gooogle's dialect comes from.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 04:10 PM

Thanks for the sarcasm, I really appreciate it. Actually it was more like "looking for a particular tune, not found it, wondering if I might have mis-spelt it or it might be listed under a slightly different title".

Anyway, shouldn't we be using Gwgl?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 08:19 PM

Sian - we'll be having a lot of informal song groups here in Portland at the North American festival of Wales in September. Any chance of posting your song sheets on your website? Really looking forward to getting the new publications you mentioned. Will they be available from Sain, Gwales, or somewhere else?
Diolch yn fawr iawn, Chris in Portland
p.s Having lots of fun after finding Say Something in Welsh - North version, no less.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Splott Man
Date: 29 Jul 10 - 04:03 AM

Cant!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,Chris Murray
Date: 29 Jul 10 - 04:57 AM

I have a friend who thinks that all good things originated in Wales. He's recommended Calan and Mabon, both of whom are well worth a listen.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 Jul 10 - 09:24 AM

But Pip, I wasn't trying to be sarcastic. In my opinion, your previous remark was so foolish that I'd hoped everybody had forgotten about it.

But if you want it straight from the shoulder -

"That's a frustrating site - any number of tunes, but not in any apparent order."

1. Use the Search function (Ctrl F) to find an item on the page.

2. Use Gwgl to search the web. If you get the Welsh slightly wrong, it will tell you.

3. The person who produced that page spent much, much time giving the world a collection of little-known and delightful music. How about reacting with thanks rather than unpleasantness?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 29 Jul 10 - 03:49 PM

Chris, I still have your private email, don't I? If not, shoot it over and I'll send you either the pdf or Word doc of the song sheets.

You can get the new books through trac if you send us an email. Not sure how we'd work out the payment but we'll manage!

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 29 Jul 10 - 09:12 PM

Sian, I sent you a pm with my info, thanks, Chris


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Jul 10 - 03:45 PM

Well, it's a frustrating site: there are any number of tunes there (which, let me make it clear, is a good thing and I'm very pleased about it), but they're not in any apparent order (which puts me off using it).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 31 Jul 10 - 09:34 AM

Yes, it would be handy if they were arranged by type. However, I don't think the creator is a musician. Did you notice that the tunes in 9/8 don't have the notes in the right clusters? If you don't know to compensate for that, they will seem very strange.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,Seligmanson
Date: 30 Oct 10 - 04:07 PM

I am hoping some-one of you out there can settle something for me. I have several very fine Welsh tunes in my repertoire, (I'm English, by the way,) and love them as much for their characteristic Welshness as for their considerable musicality (my father's Welsh, by the way); but I feel I'm missing a trick. Many years ago I heard a group whose name I can't remember play several remarkable sets of tunes in 5/4 time, giving them a generic name I can't remember. In fact all I can remember is that they said they'd found them in a nineteenth century collection in either the National or the University Library of Wales. Now, I've been looking into the 'cabm pemp'('5-Step') of Cornwall, and as a result have been able extend my repertoire in that direction, even to the point of composing my own; but I'd really like to know about the Welsh branch of this particular tradition. Can any-one help?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,Nan
Date: 18 Nov 10 - 12:53 AM

I'm just sad that the link to the website everyone was discussing in previous posts (the one with all the 'disorganized' songs) is now no longer viable. . . any chance the site still exists?

I too would love to find some Plygain songs, but alas, the internet seems to be failing me yet again. any suggestions?



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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,Nan
Date: 18 Nov 10 - 02:29 PM

Thanks so much for fixing the links!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 05:30 AM

Seligmanson, I thought I had posted a 'holding pattern' response but ... I guess not. I have asked around but haven't found anyone who know of anything relevant. Sorry. It isn't a common time in Welsh music.

Re: Plygain there are a couple of well known carols here: BBC Welsh learners There's also a Mudcat thread here.

If you're searching for Plygain on Youtube, I note that some things are labelled Plygain that aren't. Also, I've watched the ones by Muldoon's Picnic - a group for which I have some respect - but ... they obviously don't understand the tradition and haven't heard much of it either.

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 10:38 AM

Some of you might be interested in videos that have just gone up on trac's Youtube channel - pieces recorded at the Tutor's Night of our weekend course, "The Big Experiment". We had some crackin' good songs and tunes, but what would you expect from people like Arfon Gwilym, Neil Browning, Sian James, Stephen Rees and Karen Tweed?

I think they're worth tuning in for ...

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 07:58 AM

Dyfarnodd Siân:
> If you're searching for Plygain on Youtube, I note that some
> things are labelled Plygain that aren't. Also, I've watched
> the ones by Muldoon's Picnic - a group for which I have some
> respect - but ... they obviously don't understand the
> tradition and haven't heard much of it either.

Wow, that's a pretty sweeping statement to make on the basis of one solitary YouTube video of some people you've never even met.

I'd be fascinated to know what musical insights you felt were so sadly lacking in that performance, and how you were able to deduce so much about the singers from a three-minute recording. (I don't know of other "ones" myself but perhaps you can supply links?)

Harry Campbell
Muldoon's Picnic


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 16 Feb 11 - 10:34 AM

Sorry Harry. We have met briefly. I do respect your work generally and enjoyed a workshop I did with M's P a few years ago. You're right. I should not have said 'ones'; rather, 'one'. Nice attempt. Better than some. But you haven't quite got the sound. Also, for the record, by juxtaposition, people might think that the Muldoon's Picnic one is in the "Plygain that aren't" category and that would be wrong as well. Yours is, indeed, a Plygain carol.

Unfortunately there aren't a whole lot of youtube clips of Plygain tradition bearers. There is one of Parti Bronheulog singing at a ... West Gallery? ... workshop. I think I did look for an all-male Plygain group on Youtube but didn't find one.

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: HarryC
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 12:35 AM

Thanks for your reply and scrupulous clarification, Siân, I appreciate it.

I was (still am) genuinely curious to know what exactly "the sound" is that you're looking for, that we failed to capture, unless it's the use of mixed voices that you can't stomach. I for one would love nothing better than to sing in a "proper" male plygain group, but that's easier said than done when you don't live in the right part of the world. But women singing plygain is hardly that shocking, is it? Come to think of it both Arfon's Arbrawf Mawr workshop version of Carol y Swper and Parti Bronheulog's Hosannah Fawr are mixed:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8Anfd5QzMU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UyU8Z2FK_s
Then again, I don't have conniptions when I see female morris dancers, so perhaps I'm beyond help as far as the purists are concerned.

In fact, guess what? Just about everything we do is inauthentic, if by that you mean that we weren't brought up to it. We're not Georgian toastmasters or Bulgarian peasant women or sixth-generation Sacred Harp singers from Alabama, we're children of the industrialised twentieth century in the UK -- so sue us! Obviously we take it seriously, and listen and read as widely as possible, and reviewers have been kind enough to say it's clear we respect the music we sing, but we're not going to avoid singing something amazing that our many people have never heard and would love, just because we're not "tradition bearers". Songs are for singing, not putting in museums. As I'm sure you'd agree. And there should be more Welsh sung at folk festivals.

I too am puzzled by the scarcity of contemporary plygain recordings on YouTube or anywhere else on the web. But then plygain is perhaps not so much a specific musical genre as a Christmas tradition or activity. It's not often "performed" out of context, which I suppose helps explain why there are so few videos of traditional singers, at least. While we'd both have ideas on how it should be sung, the "sound" comes as much from the traditional harmonies as from the vocal timbre. Your tradition bearers don't put on a special plygain voice, different from the one they'd use to sing hymns at any other time of year.

For those unfamiliar with the sound of traditional plygain, here's Parti Fronheulog recorded in the 1960s: http://www.emusic.com/album/Amrywiol-Various-Caneuon-Plygain-Llofft-Stabal-Close-Harmony-Tr-MP3-Download/12211624.html
Also from the 60s, what do we think of the use of a big orchestral harp to accompany traditional plygain singers in this film?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/christmas/sites/content/pages/archive-plygain.shtml
I can't help thinking that a purist would disapprove of that, and I can't say I'm wild about it myself.

I'm sorry I didn't remember meeting you at a workshop. We do a lot of workshops. At least, we have done, but if enough people start to believe casual unsubstantiated allegations to the effect that we don't know what we're doing, that could always change. ;-] (Tip: it's not true!) Reasoned constructive criticism, that's different: bring it on, say I, and back it up.

Also bring on better interpretations. Let's see a video of it done properly, that we can all admire. Till then, I don't think our version is too shabby, though of course I respect your right to dislike or disapprove of it, and I'm truly sorry it didn't hit the spot for you.

Pob bendith a phob dymuniad da, as my Nain used to say.
Harry


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 06:14 AM

No, it isn't a matter of mixed voices. The only time I really don't want to hear mixed voices is in the Carol y Swper in an actual Plygain service; the power of an all-male group singing that is wonderful. However, I've sung it many times in social or workshop situations.

I just feel that MP is trying to recreate a specific sound and not, in my opinion, achieving it. You'd do just fine not trying to imitate, and just singing in your everyday voices; you're right that tradition bearers do just this.

And, no, I do not like any instrumental accompaniement with Plygain carols. I suspect that the 60s example was 'set up' by the filmmakers at a time when the singers were less media-savvy and less likely to stick to their unaccompanied guns. Having said that, a bunch of us were singing Ar Gyfer Heddiw Bore at The Big Experiment in 2008 and Cass Meurig joined in on the crwth. Very very interesting indeed ...

I do think it's a specific musical genre in some senses. I remember when Plethyn first came on the scene; they nearly didn't get a recording contract because Sain thought they were 'too' Plygain sounding ... but that is exactly what the trio was trying to do; transfer a Plygain sound to the folk world.

In actual fact, the Plygain carols are quite often sung out of context. They are regularly set as competition pieces at Eisteddfodau, sung socially, and sometimes appear as choir concert pieces. I suppose even workshops would be 'out of context'. Also Rhys Mwyn put together a television programme a couple of years ago where he brought together a few current Welsh 'pop' groups and a traditional Plygain party; ran into some opposition but, as he wasn't billing the performance as a Plygain _service_ I think it was an interesting enough experiment.

It would be good to see more Plygain parties on Youtube and maybe that will yet happen. Having said that, it's nice to think that tradition bearers are more focussed on their lives in their (usually rural) communities than on global conquest.

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 06:37 AM

One of my most transcendant musical experiences was a spontaneous duet with Siwsann George amonst the gravestones of the cemetary of the church at Aust during the Early Music festival there in 1999 where I was storytelling & playing with Misericordia. The song, as I recall, was a Catholic hymn from an underground tradition and found immediate resonance with my crwth & the other punters who gathered to share in what was a rare moment. We talked of working & recording together, but sadly it never happened. A great lady; whenever I'm playing my crwth I feel Siwsann's not too far away...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 10:26 AM

Sian - very interesting what you say about Plethyn. I enjoy their sound and wish there were others singing in that style. Is there a way to quantify what the plygian style is - 3rds, 5ths, no embellishments, no call and response?
The new 101 Carolau cd has a good variety of plygain on one disk 101 o Garolau   
Dydd gwyl ddewi sant hapus, Chris


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: sian, west wales
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 01:33 PM

Hi Chris.

I've got enough stuff on Plygain here; trying to think of where a succinct explanation can be found is the challenge. I'm seeing Rhiannon Ifans on Saturday and she'll be able to tell me where to look; heck, she's probably written it herself somewhere. Difficult to generalize of course as the traditional developed; carols of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries all have their own characteristics. Like in the West Gallery carols, there's fugueing (how is that spelt?) in the late 18th C ones. Earlier ones use old carol tunes. Some have what you might call 'call-and-response'. There are more Plygain carols with passing notes than is common in Welsh folk songs in general, I think. Verses can be long, and lots of them. Like - REALLY lots. Truly authentic ones are supposed to go, literally, from Cradle (Manger) to Grave (and, of course, beyond). Complicated verbage.   

I'll see what I can find.

The good thing about Plethyn is that they were singing in their specific local tradition. Great stuff. Wish they'd continued.

Suibhne Astray, Siwsi would have been singing "Myn Mair". It was a bit of a 'signature piece' of hers. Happy days. Still miss her.

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 24 Feb 11 - 09:02 AM

Sian - perhaps you could start a new thread with what you learn about plygain singing. I've started singing with an old timey gospel group, and they want to actually work on harmonies. If there is a plygain harmony, that would be fun to try.
Also, has there been any in Wales who sing Pub Carols ?
Is so,are there any in Welsh?
Diolch eto, Chris


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The music of Wales
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 06:34 AM

I used to go to as many Seeger concerts as I could in the 1960s. I just wanted you to know that this singer performed the Bells of Rhymney at nearly every concert. He loved this song,and he loved telling people about the story of your country. It was always presented with great love and care. We knew nothing of all this until the song.


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