About early Gaelic harp music

notes and references - page 3, Medieval & Welsh



1. See the Corpus of Electronic Texts at the website of University College Cork (Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh)

2. This manuscript was written by Robert ap Huw in c. 1623. There is a complete online facsimile and bibliography. The leading interpreter of the music is Bill Taylor whose CD is "Two Worlds of Welsh harp Music" on the Dorian label.

3. Much more very old Gaelic poetry is preserved in the Scottish oral tradition than in the Irish. There is some important material preserved in the School of Scottish Studies archive of field recordings; John Purser discusses the material in his book "Scotland's Music" (Mainstream and BBC Scotland, 1992).

4. Although Edward Bunting's manuscripts preserve tunes and lyrics, the words were collected for him by Irish-speaking scribes, usually on separate occasions, and Bunting apparently preferred to collect instrumental rather than vocal settings of the tunes, so the words and music do not match each other well. See Colette Moloney. "The Irish Music Manuscripts of Edward Bunting (1773-1843): An Introduction and Catalogue" Irish Traditional Music Archive, 2000

5. Scottish Tradition Vol 16: William Matheson, "Gaelic Bards and Minstrels", double CD CDTRAX9016 is a good example of this style of solo singing.

6. Siobhán Armstrong's CD "Cláirseach na hÉireann - The Harp of Ireland" (Maya MCD0401, 2004) includes an interesting collaberation with a sean nós singer, Bríd Ní Mhaoilchiaráin. The CD contains two eighteenth-century Gaelic songs with harp accompaniment, as well as a song in English which can be heard in its entirety online. Note the free rythym that the harper and singer both follow together.

7. For an overview see Sally Harper, Instrumental Music in Medieval Wales, North American Journal of Welsh Studies, Vol. 4, 1 (Winter 2004) (read it online).

8. Sally Harper So how many Irishmen went to Glyn Achlach? Early accounts of the formation of Cerdd Dant. "Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies" 42, Winter 2001.

9. Paul Dooley has taken these ideas at face value and recorded a CD of medieval Welsh music played on an early Irish harp: Paul Dooley "Music from the Robert ap Huw Manuscript" PDCD002, 2004

10. Bob Evans, playing crwth (bowed lyre) and Mary-Ann Roberts, voice, have released 2CDs which include settings of medieval Welsh poetry to music from the Robert ap Huw manuscript. There is a brief example on their website.



© Simon Chadwick 2005 - part of the history of the Gaelic harp, at earlygaelicharp.info