Wales is a part of the United
Kingdom but is a culturally distinct Celtic country. Welsh folk music has
distinctive instrumentation and song types, and is often heard at a twmpath
(folk dance session), or noson lawen (traditional party or ceilidh). Modern
Welsh folk musicians have sometimes had to reconstruct traditions which had been
suppressed or forgotten.
Wales is often known by the phrase "the Land of Song" (Welsh: Gwlad y Gān) and
its people have a renowned affinity for poetry and music.
In the Language of
Perhaps the most well-known
musical image of Wales is that of the choir, in particular the male voice choir
(Welsh: cor meibion). While this is certainly a part (though of greatly
diminished importance) of the current musical life of the nation, it is by no
means the only or the oldest part, and the choral tradition does not really
stretch back much before the 19th century.
Romantic Splendour of Wales
Much older is the tradition of
instrumental folk music. The harp has been closely associated with Wales for a
very long time, and one kind of harp, the triple harp is uniquely Welsh. It has
three rows of strings, with every semitone separately represented. Other
specifically Welsh instruments included the crwth and the pibgorn, though both
fell out of general use by the end of the 18th century. For many years, the
church frowned on traditional music and dance, though folk tunes were sometimes
used in hymns. The instrumental folk tradition fell into decline through
the 19th and early 20th centuries, but has since seen a revival and is now
arguably as strong as ever. The principal instruments are the harp and the
fiddle, but many other instruments are used, and both the crwth and pibgorn are
again being played by a small but growing number of people. The fiddle (or violin) is an
integral part of Welsh folk music.
Since at least the twelfth
century, Welsh bards and musicians have participated in musical and poetic
contests called eisteddfodau.
a form of Welsh poetry employed by Welsh
bards. It has been
since the 18th century.
See page on
Michael J Lewis - his Celtic and orchestral music and film and TV music.
Also pages on the triple harp and the