An in-depth study of Lord and Lady Llanover

High Hats and Harps

The Life and Times of Lord and Lady Llanover

High Hats and Harps cover

Lady Llanofer - the Bee of Gwent


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Helen Forder


'By the Roman invasion, and the more barbarous incursions of the Saxons, the Danes and the Normans, and the emigration of the Britons to Armorica (1); by the frequent destruction of MSS (2), and the massacres of the Clergy (3), and the Bards; the Poetry and Music of Wales have suffered a loss, that has thrown a dark cloud over the history of those native arts, and for a long time threatened their total extinction. Yet from the memorials still extant, and the poetical and musical compositions which time has spared, we are enabled often to produce unquestionable evidence, and always to form a probable conjecture, concerning their rise and progress among us. There is no living nation that can produce works of so remote antiquity, and at the same time of such unimpeached authority as the Welsh.' [NOTES]
From An Historical Account of the Welsh Bards and their Music and Poetry; Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards, by Edward Jones.

'[The Welsh] play three instruments, the harp, the pipe and the crwth ...'
'When they play their instruments they charm and delight the ear with the sweetness of their music.'

'When they come together to make music, the Welsh sing their traditional songs, not in unison, as is done elsewhere, but in parts, in many modes and modulations. When a choir gathers to sing, which happens often in this country, you will hear as many different parts and voices as there are performers, all joining together in the end to produce a single organic harmony and melody in the soft sweetness of B-flat.'
From The Description of Wales, by Gerald of Wales, translated by Lewis Thorpe.

Illustration from Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Bards by Edward Jones
Illustration from Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Bards by Edward Jones

'If you want to know whether the Welsh are a substantive historic race, go and listen to their music.' W.E.Gladstone (on Snowdon,13th September 1892)
'Wales is pre-eminently the land of song; in no other country in the world has poetry and music entered so largely into the national life of its inhabitants.'
Both excerpts from Cambrian Minstrelsie, edited and harmonised by Joseph Parry, Mus. Doc. (Cantab.)

'Welsh music is essentially harp music, and exhibits in almost every phrase evidence of the influence of the instrument upon its development ...'
'... the late director of the Brussels Royal Academy of Music, in his History of Music, thus refers to the antiquity of the Welsh, and their music. "In Gaul as well as in the country of the Welsh nation, there were priests who were called Druids, who celebrated their mysterious rites in the forests, and bards or musical priests who sang the glory of Heroes. But there is the difference between Gaul and the country of the Welsh, inasmuch as the latter still preserve their bards, and that the Cambrian or Celtic language is still cultivated by them, and moreover that their music still maintains its primitive type. There is something remarkable in this now interminable succession of Welsh bards for two thousand years, and that the preservation intact of their language and their Celtic music, in a country so long ruled over by the Saxons.'' '
From the Preface to The Songs of Wales, edited by Brinley Richards. 1873.

Read an essay by John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia) on
The National Music of Wales



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