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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 (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 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 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 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.
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 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, 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.