The Music of Wales

The Dragon's Tongue

Land of Song

When most people think of Welsh music they tend to think of male voice choirs, Baritones like Bryn Terfel or, at best, Tom Jones and Charlotte Church. When people think of Celtic music they think of Irish folk bands and Scottish bagpipes. It’s not well known outside of Wales that there is a thriving Welsh language music genre. With this collection of some of my favorites perhaps a wider audience will get the message that Celtic rock is alive, well and thriving in the Land of Song.

Y Profiad

Y Profiad (The Experience) with “Canu y gan” (Sing the Song) Wales is known as “The land of Song” Seems you just can’t stop us singing. This song both celebrates that and is a rallying cry to keep singing in the land of my fathers and the country of my mother. That’s a rough translation of the chorus. Great song and a good way to start this collection.

Meic Stevens

Meic Stevens singing “Ru Sant Michel”

No this is not Rue Sainte Michelle in Paris, Meic is singing in Brittany another Brythonic speaking country in North West France. Ru Sant Michel is in Rennes.

The first time I heard Meic in person was so long ago that neither one of us would like to think about it. He was in a folk group called “Bara ‘menyn” (Bread and butter.) With Heather Jones and Geraint Jarman. I wish I could find their music I would have included it as well.

Elin Fflur

Elin Fflur singing “Harbwr diogel” (Safe haven) It’s a beautiful song where she tells her love that no matter what happens in this world he is still her safe Haven in the storm. Duffy also sings this and though I am a fan of Duffy I believe Elin’s version is better. My opinion but I’m sticking to it.

Dewi Pws

Dewi Morris is usually known as Dewi Pws. A Welsh nickname, don’t ask, I’m not telling. Many years ago I was with my ex at the National Eisteddfod, we walked into a tent and there was a small crowd and Dewi. She blurted out “Dewi piss” Everyone laughed and fair play, so did Dewi. He first became popular with a band called “Tebot Piws” (The purple teapot) He wrote a song that has since become a classic, “Lleucu Llwyd” (Lucy Grey) Here he’s singing one of his nonsense songs “Mawredd mawr” I don’t know how to translate that except maybe, Goodness gracious? So a rough translation of part of the song would be “Goodness Gracious, sit down, someone has stolen my nose” It may not sound much in English but in Welsh it’s bloody hilarious.

Bryn Fon

The guy in the white shirt singing with Dewi in Mawredd mawr is Bryn Fon. Here he is with “Coedwig ar dan” (Trees on fire) I had to include his voice here. This is a modern Welsh balladeer at his best.

The Poxy Boggards

I couldn’t possibly leave this out. My favorite group here in the states is the renaissance singing group known as “The World famous Poxy Boggards” Terrific singers and talented beyond belief. Most of what they sing was written by members of the band but I proudly take credit for introducing them to this song. They put their own enthusiastic spin on it and it has become a popular and much requested song at their gigs. “Sosban fach’ is a song that became the anthem and rugby war cry of my home town of Llanelli. If you want more information on the song look under my Hubs for “Sosban fach.” If you want more information on the Boggards, look under my Hubs for “The Poxy Boggards.”

Meinir Gwilym

Meinir Gwilym singing “’Enaid hoff gytun’ (A shared love soul) It really is a delightful song. There’s a line that I can relate to, it reminds me of when I was totally skint (That means broke without a penny to your name) She sings “There’s lice in the pantry so you know I'm skint” Lovely stuff and typically Welsh to make a happy song out of bad times.

Dafydd Iwan

Dafydd Iwan, the president of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party, Singing “Yma o hyd” (We’re still here) Dafydd started folk singing back when he was studying architecture at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He was chairman of Cymdeithas Y Iaith Gymraeg, (the Welsh language society) and with many other activists, served some time in prison for civil disobedience during the campaigns to get Welsh speakers the same rights as English speakers. I remember those days fondly. Running from the cops and occasionally stopping to fight them. Oh happy memories. These days my son is a police officer in South Wales and himself a campaigner for better traetment of the old language.. How the world turns.

The Welsh National Anthem

The Welsh national Anthem, at Rugby matches and other informal events only the first verse and chorus are sung. Here is the full anthem. It’s a beautiful song and makes me proud and happy to be Welsh. I wrote an article here on Hubpages about the Anthem, with a translation of the words. I included a little about its origins also. Just look under the Hubs I’ve written for “The Welsh National Anthem

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey down the path of Welsh music. As you see the best of Welsh doesn’t get far from our borders because the best is still in the old tongue. There is such life and vitality in our ancient culture but to preserve would be to kill. The language and the music that it informs must continue to grow and develop. May the voices of the people sing forever.

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Comments 12 comments

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 6 years ago from West Virginia

Thank you so very much for this hub! I am exstatic and over-joyed that someone finally wrote about the other Celts--The Welsh. I have ancestry in Wales and waited for someone to come up with this for so long. I live in the States and have never been to Wales, but I have a longing to be there with all it's wonder and festivities and heritage. You may want to visit my hub and I will link this one to mine as well : http://hubpages.com/hub/My-LEWIS-Genealogy

Now I will listen to the songs you have included here and feel me drift there as well.


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Lady Guinevere; Thank you for being the first to comment on my Hub. Yes absolutely I'll visit yours and make a link. I hope you enjoyed the songs.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Catatonia was one of my favorites from Wales. Create tunes and voice. My parents just love the Welsh choir. I still think a Rugby game a Cardiff Arms is one of the most moving moments when Wales sings.


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

Fascinating trip as always-I'm still amazed by the lack of similarity in language between our two countries-despite them being so close physically.

Really enjoyed this trip-I think it's time I popped back for a visit.I love it there.


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hello Billy; Thanks for reading and thank you for your comments. I've been one of those singing at a rugby game myself. Moving? yes because when I sing people move away.


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

hello itakins; hat is an interetsing phenomenon of our small island. It's not well known outside of the UK, and sometimes within also, that there are 7 languages native to the British Isles. In a small group of islands that can fit into California 4 times we have; English, spoken almost everywhere, Irish in Ireland, Scots-Gaelic in Scotland, manx on the Isle of Man, Welsh in Wales, Cornish in Cornwall and French in the channel islands.

We have been multi-cultural for 1500 years.


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

Is Manx similar to Irish/welsh or ?.I've never seen it written or heard it spoken-do any of them still speak it over there? To my shame ,I've never gone to the Isle of Man!

Wouldn't a hub on these different languages be right up your street:)


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Manx is still spoken. One of the Goedelic languages it's similar to Irish with some borrowed words from old Norse. Welsh is Brythonic and belongs to a different branch of the Celtic languages.

What a wonderful idea though. Thank you very much for the inspiration. I just might get to work on that.


Matthew Davies 6 years ago

R'wyn cadw fy llygaid arno ti, fy machgen I :~)


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Ha! r'wyt ti gallu weld ymhell hen ffrind :)


M Selvey, MSc profile image

M Selvey, MSc 6 years ago from United Kingdom

ianto, thank you for posting this great introduction to Welsh music! Love it! Since marrying my British husband and moving to England, I have been introduced to beautiful Wales and it has fast become a favourite place to go on holiday. Have longtime been a fan of the north with Snowdonia and Llandudno. Last year, we went to Pembrokeshire and fell in love again! I am originally from Southern Calfornia. Wish we could be there for the Renaissance Faire, would love to say hello to you!

Best wishes,

Margit

P.S. You might find my hub on regional language variations amusing:

http://hubpages.com/education/How-to-Grow-a-Region...


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hi Margit; Thank you for reading and commenting. A number of my Hubs relate to Wales including Hubs on old Welsh legends, it actually helps with the homesickness I get from time to time.

Next time you and your hubby are out this way drop me a line and we'll say Hello.

Thanks for the link I will check it out sounds interesting.

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