Welsh traditional music

       Орехово-Зуевский Государственный Педагогический Институт
                                     Кафедра английского языка

                Реферат по страноведению на тему:

                          Welsh traditional music

                                                         Выполнила студентка
                                                         5 курса 502а группы
                                                       английского отделения
                                                             Андрианова Т.В.
                                                             Абульханов Р.А.

1. The peculiarities of folk music in Wales…………………………………..3
2. Plethyn……………………………………………………………………..6
3. Boys of the Lough…………………………………………………………7

4. Rag Foundation…………………………………………………………….8

5. Fernhill……………………………………………………………………..9

6. The renaissance of Welsh traditional music……………………………….12

1.The peculiarities of folk music in Wales
       Wales is the only Celtic nation with a completely unbroken  tradition
of harp music, where the music, technique, and style have been  passed  down
orally from harper to harper over the centuries. Wales  is  best  known  for
its  large-ensemble  choral  singing.  But  this  principality  lying  along
Britain's southwestern shore also has a proud Celtic tradition  of  smaller,
more tightly knit bands that perform native instrumentals  and  folk  songs.
Wales is a land of song, sung either by  male  voice  choirs  or  crowds  at
rugby matches. But there has been singing of all  manner  of  songs  in  all
manner of places, from the Canu'r Pwnc chanting of scripture  in  chapel  to
the scurrilous rhymes sung in pubs. All that is commonly known  about  Welsh
poetry is that it comes in forms of mind-boggling complexity. But  there  is
a great variety of metre and tone. Bands such  as  Pigyn  Clust  are  mining
these veins in new and  startling  ways,  juxtaposing  melodies,  and  verse
              In Ireland and Scotland, because traditional music  is  better
established, the orthodoxies  too  are  stronger.  While  musicians  improve
technically - and there  are  some  phenomenally  accomplished  players  and
singers - there is little innovation, beyond often misguided  collaborations
with musicians from  incompatible  traditions.  If  the  Chieftains  finally
stopped coming to town then a similar band playing similar music would  soon
fill the vacuum - Lunasa, for instance. Should Aly Bain,  the  Boys  of  the
Lough's fiddler, lay down his bow then Catriona MacDonald would step in.
       But  in   Wales   musicians   are   rediscovering,   recreating   and
reinterpreting their traditional music, which is crucial to the  development
of their culture. Of  all  the  Celtic  countries  it  is  Wales  where  the
traditional music is most interesting and most vital.

       The bardic and eisteddfod traditions have long dominated Welsh  music
and, partly as a result,  the  Celtic  music  boom  which  propelled  Irish,
Scots, Breton and even Galician  music  into  the  international  spotlight,
somehow left Wales behind.  Several  excellent  artists  have  made  inroads
through the years, notably the  harp-playing  brothers  Dafydd  and  Gwyndaf
Roberts of Ar Log, the singer/harpist Sian  James,  70s  group  Plethyn  and
fiery dance band Calennig.
       The Welsh have a drastically different style of playing, largely  due
to the nature of the music itself. Their music is ornamented  through  theme
and variation, a more classical style,  rather  than  through  the  sort  of
ornamentation heard in Scottish  and  Irish  music.  Due  to  this  love  of
Baroque-like style, the Welsh adopted the  triple  harp  as  their  national
instrument, taking advantage of the three rows of strings  to  play  a  wide
variety of variations on traditional Welsh  melodies.  (Triple-strung  harps
have two diatonic rows on either side, and  a  row  of  accidentals  up  the
middle, which the harper plays by reaching  between  the  outer  strings  to

                  The  harp  is  of  course  the  instrument  most   closely
identified with Wales. But though it's accorded the highest  respect  there,
the fiddle and the accordion are perhaps embraced  with  greater  affection.
CDs sampling the traditions of both have recently  been  released,  but  for
many  listeners  these  will  be  introductions  rather  than  surveys.  The
squeezebox anthology Megin  (bellows)  is  especially  good.  The  range  of
repertoire, and even instruments, is remarkable, from  the  robust  melodeon
dance music of Meg and  Neil  Browning  from  North  Wales  to  John  Morgan
(clearly influenced by harp players)  whose  duet  concertina  combines  the
gravitas of a church organ with the  delicacy  of  a  flute.  The  inclusive
nature of this  selection  is  significant  too;  players  from  the  south-
eastern, urban, (post-) industrial region rub shoulders with those from  the
Marches, the rural and  largely  English-speaking  area  running  along  the
border. It even includes the Brecon Hornpipe and Dic y Cymro played by  John
Kirkpatrick - the most famous of  English  box  players  who  lives  on  the
eastern side, in Shropshire. So the CD draws on and  expresses  the  complex
reality and the richness of  Wales,  recognising  that  music  will  not  be
confined by city nor countryside, language nor national boundary.

               Those instrumental traditions were not well  known,  and  the
fiddle certainly suffered in the religious revivals  of  the  19th  century,
when many were burned. But at least they did not disappear  completely.  The
bray harp, the instrument of medieval bards,  then  the  peasants  of  South
Wales, and bagpipes - of which there were various local kinds - were not  so
fortunate. Tunes and references to players remain and in recent  years  Ceri
Rhys Matthews and Jonathan Shorland have recreated bagpipes  and  researched
their repertoires, while William Taylor has reconstructed the  smaller  bray
harp.  Such  enterprises  are  academically  fraught,  but  musically   very
exciting. That there are no masters  from  whom  to  learn  the  nuances  of
phrasing,  accent  and  the  trick  of  grace-notes  -  those   details   of
performance which distinguish traditional music - is a grave  loss,  but  it
does give the contemporary musician enviable freedom.
       Ned Thomas had noted in his revelatory book The Welsh Extremist  that
'when two Welsh speakers meet the topic of conversation is the state of  the
language'. What Welsh traditional music  was  played  tended  to  serve  the
cause of a culture in crisis, rather than express  it.  So  like  a  cramped
toenail, it grew inward. "Between about 1980 and 1990 there  was  almost  no
awareness of what was going on elsewhere," a Welsh  musician  recently  told
me. "Wales became Albania."

             In modern times a whole gamut of outstanding bands  are  making
their presence  felt,  including  The  Kilbride  Brothers,  Rag  Foundation,
Aberjaber and folk-rock band Blue Horses, Fernhill.
2. Plethyn
      This trio from  Powys  in  mid-Wales,  together  for  25  years,  are
celebrated for close vocal harmonies laid over a spare instrumental  mix  of
guitar, mandolin, tin whistle and concertina. Siblings Linda Healy  and  Roy
Griffiths, along with their friend  John  Gittins,  have  pioneered  a  more
intimate singing style, based on the Plygain choral  tradition.  Nowhere  is
that more apparent than in Plethyn's  a  cappella  rendition  of  the  Welsh
traditional song "Cainc Yr  Aradwr"  ("The  Ploughboy's  Song"),  from  this
outstanding 1994 album, whose title is Welsh for "Yesterday's Cider."
3. Boys of the Lough
       Boys of the Lough are one  of  the  past  masters  of  celtic  music,
combining members from several celtic traditions with a long history;  where
other celtic groups last a few years,  the  Boys  are  now  in  their  third
decade and retain two of their  earliest  members.  Like  that  other  long-
running act the Chieftans, their  music  tends  to  the  formal;  impeccable
technique   and   sensitivity,   with   large,   sometimes   classical-style
arrangements, and very tight  ensemble  playing.  They  lack  the  fire  and
roughness of other groups; the overall feeling is of  a  group  of  skilled,
well-integrated musicians playing together for the pure pleasure of it.
       The history of the Boys has several twists and turns. The  group  was
formed in 1967, as a trio of Cathal McConnell, Tommy Gunn of  Fermanagh  and
Robin Morton from Portadown. Tommy Gunn later dropped out and the  remaining
duo recorded "An Irish Jubliee" in 1969. At the sametime,  Shetland  fiddler
Aly Bain and singer/guitarist Mike Whelans  were  playing  on  the  Scottish
folk circuit. The two duos met up at the Falkirk folk  festival  where  they
played together and some time later, in 1971 came together  for  good.  Dick
Gaughan of Leith replaced Mike in 1972 and this lineup  recorded  the  first
'official' group album in  1972.  Dick,  in  turn,  left  in  1973  and  was
replaced by Dave Richardson of Northumberland, bringing in  new  instruments
including, cittern, banjo and mandolin. This lineup  continued  for  several
year, touring widely in Europe and America and releasing 6  albums,  two  of
them recorded live. Live at Passim's was recorded at Passim's in  Cambridge,
Massachusetts, and Wish You Were Here comes from  a  tour  of  the  Scottish
Highlands and Islands. Robin Morton left in 1979 and was replaced with  Dave
Richardson's brother, Tich, on guitar. Tich was killed in  a  road  accident
in late 1983. After some  time,  the  band  came  together  again  with  new
members Christy O' Leary and John Coakley and have  kept  that  lineup  ever

Current Lineup

Aly Bain           Fiddle
Cathal McConnell   Flute and Tin Whistle, Vocals
Dave Richardson    Mandolin, cittern, English concertina, button accordion
Christy O' Leary   Uileann pipes, tin whistle, mouth-organ and vocals
Chris Newman       Guitar
4. Rag Foundation
      Woollard's band, Rag Foundation, from  Swansea,  is  one  of  several
groups of young urban musicians who have come to traditional  music  in  the
way they  have  come  to  the  Welsh  language,  through  questioning  their
identity, their cultural distinctiveness. They have been  described  by  the
trade press as the most dynamic band to emerge from Wales  for  many  years.
Their current albums 'Minka' and 'South by SouthWest' have  been  critically
acclaimed by press, TV, radio and  festival  organisers.  They  have  toured
extensively in many  countries  as  far  apart  as  Canada,  Latvia,  India,
Holland, Egypt, Hungary and France as well as the UK. Woollard's  own  story
is quite remarkable: introduced to traditional  music  by  a  fiddle  player
recording a session for a trip-hop outfit he was in,  he  began  researching
songs of his region, came across Phil Tanner…  and  discovered  he  was  his
great uncle. But Woollard's style owes as much  to  Tom  Jones  and  Shirley
Bassey - the total commitment to the song of the working class,  pub  singer
of South Wales - as it does to folk music.  When  Rag  Foundation  performed
for the first time in London the people running  the  venue  were  surprised
when two busloads of young urban  ravers  pitched  up  too.  "We  have  this
following of clubbers who come round with  us,"  Woollard  explained.  "What
we're doing is dance music, which is what they're  into.  Ours  is  just  an
older version of it." Even so, it is the power of the traditional song  that
inspires Rag Foundation, and Woollard  inhabits  rather  than  exploits  the
material. "I want to bring these songs to an audience my age,  but  I  don't
want to stick drum and bass all over  them.  It's  in  the  performance.  If
you're honest in your delivery what you're singing about will come  across."

5. Fernhill.

       Since they formed in 1996, Fernhill have  become  important  cultural
ambassadors  for  Wales  and  its  music,  having  toured  in  20  countries
including performances for the  King  of  Swaziland  and  the  President  of
Mozambique. 'These daring musical deconstructionists have become  the  prime
movers in a crop of talented  bands  injecting  new  life  and  an  exciting
contemporary dynamic into traditional Welsh music' .


Julie Murphy vocals

Richard Llewellyn guitar

Cass Meurig fiddle

Tomos Williams trumpet

Andy Coughlan double bass
        Paradoxically they only had one  Welsh  member  when  they  achieved
national attention, bagpiper and  guitarist  Ceri  Rhys  Matthews  from  the
Swansea valley. Yet Essex-born Julie Murphy has  lived  in  Wales  for  many
years and, totally absorbed in the  culture  and  history  of  the  country,
sings confidently in the Welsh language when the occasion  demands  it.  Not
that they play exclusively Welsh  music.  They  also  perform  English  folk
songs, impassioned  Breton  tunes  and  vibrant  French  songs  while  fully
embracing the modern roots ideology, introducing  the  influences  of  their
many travels, notably African and Eastern European music.
        Julie Murphy met Ceri Matthews at art college in Maidstone, and when
the course was over she returned to Wales with him,  learning  the  language
and absorbing the culture. Although she had no folk background to speak  of,
Murphy developed a natural feel for performing traditional  songs,  and  she
and Matthews started working as a duo. They met Jonathan  Shorland  in  1986
when they were on the same bill at the Pontardawe  folk  festival.  Shorland
joined them on stage playing the  pibgorn,  a  Welsh  horn  pipe,  and  they
started working together with three other  musicians  as  a  music  and  art
group called Saith Rhyfeddod.

            Raised in the New Forest, Shorland had become obsessed  by  reed
instruments as a devotee of David Munro’s music programme on Radio  3  while
at Aberystwyth  University.  He  became  an  expert  in  Celtic  traditions,
learning to make bagpipes and travelling extensively in Eastern  Europe  and
Brittany, playing regularly with Breton musicians. He  is  said  to  be  the
first person to introduce the bombard into Welsh music.
        Murphy teamed up with  Blowzabella’s  ex-hurdy  gurdy  player  Nigel
Eaton, resulting in the experimental Whirling Pope Joan project  which  made
a big impact with its alternative rhythms  and  challenging  material.  Also
involved in the project was Andy Cutting, a melodeon and accordion ace  from
Harrow brought up in a family steeped in  English  traditional  music.  When
invited on a British Council tour in Gaza, Murphy invited  Andy  Cutting  to
accompany her. When in 1996 Tim  Healey  of  Beautiful  Jo  Records  invited
Julie Murphy, Ceri  Matthews  and  Jonathan  Shorland  to  contribute  to  a
compilation of Celtic music, they roped in Andy Cutting.

              The  result  was  Fernhill,  who  have   subsequently   toured
extensively and produced a series of fine albums  which  reaffirm  the  rich
spirit of Welsh folk music while moving boldly into new areas.  Mixing  oboe
with bagpipes, diatonic accordion, guitar  and  numerous  other  instruments
they have challenged all preconceptions about  folk  music,  recognising  no
dividing line between Welsh dance  music  and  the  roots  music  of  Kenya,
Pakistan or any point beyond.

         They now work mainly as a trio of  Murphy,  Matthews  and  Cutting,
but all are involved with other musicians  as  they  strive  to  break  down
further barriers between musical style and the audience it appeals to.

              They have recorded  three  critically  acclaimed  albums;  the
latest, Whilia, was a  top  twenty  album  in  the  Folk  Roots  poll  2000.
Fernhill created a new musical landscape from the indigenous  dance  rhythms
and folk poetry of Wales. Julie Murphy's passionate  singing  combined  with
guitar, fiddle, double bass and trumpet produces  a  sound  both  gutsy  and
       In 2001 the band contributed a performance  to  the  film  'Beautiful
Mistake' about the Welsh music scene which includes  performances  by  James
Dean Bradfield, Catatonia, Super Furry Animals, and  Gorkys  Zygotic  Mynci.
Julie Murphy also collaborated with ex velvet underground member John  Cale;
he accompanied her on a track from her solo album Black Mountains  Revisited
(a MOJO folk album of 99).

6. The renaissance of Welsh traditional music

      Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia and even  Tom  Jones  assure  Welsh
people that their identity is not naff. Gorki's Zygotic Mynki,  Super  Furry
Animals and Datblygu prove that indeed it's  cool  -  and  that  singing  in
Welsh is  no  obstacle  to  commercial  success.  People  are  beginning  to
remember that the  Velvet  Underground  founder  member  John  Cale's  first
language is Welsh  (earlier  this  year  he  was  in  Cardiff  working  with
musicians who prefer to perform in it).
       Neil Browning is part of a growing movement in Wales, one that is not
out to preserve the old folk music, but to make it come  alive,  to  breathe
again. While he has a great knowledge and respect for the old tunes and  the
old ways, he is not hestitant to push it as much as the song requires.
       Neil has contributed three pieces  to  the  festival.  The  first  is
straight traditional music for accordion, guitar and bodhran. The second  is
an original tune that is decidedly contemporary, adventuring into  a  global
turf while still maintaining a distinct  Welsh  air  to  it.  The  third  is
another traditional tune (title unknown),  but  with  the  accompaniment  of
classical guitar, it takes on a new and different feeling.
               Nansi Richards plays orally learned melodies  and  variations
with clarity and passion. Her variations are vibrant, ringing out  with  the
sound only a triple-strung harp can make. She also  plays  the  more  common
single-strung harp beautifully on several of the tracks.
          There are many  reasons  for  this  renewed  self-confidence;  the
growing appetite for the music of other  cultures,  a  degree  of  political
autonomy and, not least, the success of those who did devote  themselves  to
the cause of Welsh. They may not have produced much great  music,  but  they
assured that not only is the language surviving, people can converse  in  it
in some security, relax and just get on with life.
      So they are beginning to look about them, hack their way through  the
overgrown and almost forgotten paths to  the  spring  of  their  traditional
music. It's still flowing. The new Rough Guide to  the  Music  of  Wales  CD
opens with a harp tune by Llio Rhydderch, who was brought up  in  a  master-
pupil teaching tradition that stretches  back  to  the  fourteenth  century.
There's also a recording she made of her teacher  Nansi  Richards,  who  was
steeped in the aesthetic and technique of eighteenth century  harpers.  What
is striking and refreshing about both players is their power.  If  you  find
most Celtic harp music plinking and fey, the strength as well as the  beauty
of this ancient music will be a welcome surprise.
      The Welsh tradition is untouched," says Neil Woollard, gleefully. "So
the music is more open to interpretation.  I  know  we've  got  the  perfect
opportunity here, setting the parameters of what you can do.
      Tradition" is the organic element of world culture. Pop music by  its
very nature is disposable. The only future  for  a  great  pop  song  is  as
nostalgia. The tradition however is timeless and recyclable and  is  renewed
as each generation discovers its roots. - Billy Bragg, musician