Welsh music

Welsh music

Okay peoples I’ve just found out that *gasp* I’m moving to Wales in September! I’m really excited about it, but I know literally nothing about Welsh music. Can anyone provide me with a crash course or a tunes list? And does anyone live near or know any sessions in and around Llantwit Major?

Dry, disparaging and unhelpful comments are also very welcome!


Re: Welsh music

Congratulations !

Re: Welsh music

Sounds nice. No idea about sessions. Is that unhelpful enough?

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You might like the Kilbride brothers - good fiddle music, if you can find their recording[s]. Don’t know if they still play or not.
There’s a flute player called Jem, at the "Chiff & Fipple" website who lives in Wales. Nice guy and quite knowledgeable about the music - you could ask him for a few tips, or I’ll do it for you, if you like.

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Go to chiff&fipple and ask "jemtheflute". He knows quite a lot about welsh music.

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Look out for some of the following:

Toreth - great duo playing rare trad tunes
Ceri Rhys Mathews - a great chance to hear the pibe-cwm!
Cass Meurig - one of my favourite crwth players

A useful web resource for you to use is:

As for twmpath and folk clubs, there are an abundance. although some of them do occasionally divert into English Morris.

In particular you could try -

Dawnswyr Gwerin Pen-y-Fai: Scout Hall, Bryntirion, Penybont on a Thursday
Twrch Trwyth: Womanby Street, Cardiff on a Wednesday

Ther are a number of others, but the best bet would be to ask around when you get there. One of the best dance groups I have ever seen were Dawnswyr Tâf-Elai although I haven’t seen them in a while. If you become active in the twmpath scene you will soon come across Mick Tems and I am sure he will be able to help you.


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Wales is a great place - might be moving there ourselves soon! Although whenever we go to sessions in Wales, often we’re the only people playing Welsh music. Go figure (as they say in the US).

Our band is playing at Llangollen pavilion on 16th May so hoping to work in some Welsh harp solos.

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Croeso i Gymru, Abby!

I moved to Mid Wales about 18 months ago. There’s not a lot of Welsh music in this particular area - the sessions tend to be rather English-dominated. But I’m adding Welsh tunes to my repertoire and sneak them into the sessions when I can.

In addition to the artists already mentioned, I can
recommend Welsh Triple Harper (and authority on Welsh traditional music) Robin Huw Bowen and his band, Crasdant.
Robin has published a book of ‘200 Welsh Hornpipes’, which he intends to follow up with similar collections of other dance tunes.

There are two very reasonably priced, spiral bound, collections of Welsh dance tunes, published by the Welsh Folk Song and Dance Society, ‘Cadw Twmpath’ and ‘Blodau’r Grug’. Not being within easy reach of any regular Welsh sessions, I have to rely largely on books and CDs for tunes. Of course, if you there is a good Welsh trad scene where you are, then you might not need any of these.

Re: Welsh music

Thanks for all the replies so far! It’s been very helpful. I’ve dutifully noted down all the musicians I must investigate.

What instruments are common in Welsh trad? I’m also thinking of setting up a folk band/club/session at my new school, if anyone has experience of doing this can you send me a message? Thanks again for all the info!

Diolch yn fawr iawn, granama :-)

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"often we’re the only people playing Welsh music. Go figure (as they say in the US)."

I’d guess that if you asked 70 percent of people in Wales what folk music is, they’d say Bob Dylan, or his Welsh clone, Meic Stevens. If you asked them if there’s any Welsh music, they’d say Tom Jones. It’s pathetic. Of course, there’s ten percent who are fanatical about the language and Welshness, but for some reason, most young people don’t seem aware or enthusiastic about any folk tradition. They go for rap or rock or pop. There’s plenty of Welsh rock bands.

I’m sure there’s a vast reservoir somewhere of old tunes from the chapel tradition, if someone bothered to dig it out. From what little I know, the words are rather dull, Victorian sentimental religious propaganda, but some of the tunes are fine.

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The Mash-Tub March and Megan’s Grand-daughter are two nice little Welsh tunes, both in the Tunes section here.

In my limited experience the weather there beggars belief. The rain in England is almost dessicated in comparison. Welsh rain is seriously, outlandishly wet, and Snowdonia at least seems to exist under a permanent deluge.

If you see a woman who looks rather like a beautiful outsize golden retriever, that’ll be Catatonia singer Cerys Matthews.

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Nicholas - you see what the English have always failed to recognise is that in Wales we get proper rain, not the pretend drizzle they call a downpour!

As for the traditional instruments, look out for the crwth (looks a bit like a lyre), the pibe-cwn - although i doubt you will find any sessioneers with these, pibgorn - I must get myself one of these, they sound fantastic!!!

For more on the latter go to:


I understand that after Mick’s stroke he ‘reinvented’ himself and now plays the tabwrdd, a tabor-like drum - you might want to look him up,

As for average sessions, most are the usual intruments, so you should feel at home.


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One of the many good things about Wales (and I count the world class rain among them) is that you are probably not too far from a thriving little arts centre somewhere, where people like Martin Hayes, Altan etc. seem happy to pop over and give shows to a hundred or so enthusiasts. Wales is living proof that, in the arts at least, small is still strong and beautiful!

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Before Mick Tems had his stroke, he and Pat Smith - if I’ve got the girl singer’s name right - were the duo Calennig. I saw them in the 80s and they were marvellous, Pat’s singing of The Bells Of Rhymney being a real showstopper. If you come across albums or other recorded music by them, they should be worth hearing.

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Llantwit Major / Llanilltud Fawr ~ Vale of Glamorgan

Yes, Brigend, Barry, Pontypridd, Caerphilly & Cardiff

You’ll find Cardiff sessions listed here on the third page after a search using ‘Wales’ in the ‘country, after the two pages of Australian entries for New South Wales…

There is also the glorious Welsh Folk Museum, the staff and the collections…and the buildings too…St. Fagans…regular concerts and performances…



Discussion: Welsh Music
# Posted on February 6th 2007 by mandolinman

Discussion: Welsh Traditional Music
# Posted on July 24th 2006 by Welshman

Discussion: Welsh tunes - what should we play
# Posted on March 22nd 2006 by Llanman

Discussion: Welsh tunes/Welsh members?
# Posted on July 5th 2004 by wendyann

Discussion: welsh tunes
# Posted on January 29th 2003 by bunyip

Discussion: Welsh Traditional Music
# Posted on December 13th 2002 by Dafydd Monks


Dafydd Monks


sianfiddle = Sian Phillips

Cerimatho = Ceri Matthews


The Kilbride Brothers / Yr Hwntws ~ some info

Welsh recordings ~ just enter ‘Welsh’ or ‘Wales’ in your search and leave it at that. There are quite a few tunes on site here that you’ll find links to in the recordings.



For example:

Ffidil: Welsh Fiddle Music

Nansi Richards ~ harp

Ar Log


Re: Welsh music

Super Furry Animals, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, John Cale and early Manics are the only Welsh music you need bother with, check out the first two, you won’t be disappointed. As you no doubt know, John Cale was a member of one of the greatest bands to ever walk the earth.

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Thanks for all the responses - I’m working through it all…

Do we reckon that there is a market for a English/Irish folk club at St Donat’s Arts Centre?

I’m looking forward to the rain. I love rain. I really, really do.

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You Love Rain? You better move to Fermanagh, coz byjaysus, we get more than enough of it. It’s raining now, it will be still raining when I get up for work in the morning, in fact, I can send you some rain if you want, soak it up in blotting paper and post it in a plaggy bag. AND (I’m not making this up) Norma Waterson has just started singing "St. Swithins Day" on my hi-fi, good job it’s well built, just like herself!

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Like with anything, there are divisions, factions, and cliques, and there are hard held attitudes that can make you wince. There are also some damned nice folk.

Cymdeithas Ddawns Werin Cymru / The Welsh Folk Dance Society is the formal wing of it all, akin to Scotland’s R.S.C.D.S., or Ireland’s Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha, with balls and costumes and the usual associated pomp and pretence… The Twmpath scene is more along the lines of the Scottish or English ceilidh and has direct connections…

You can find great people in all the camps. There is one branch of the CDWC in your area, down south, who do the dress up, but are a laugh a minute, great folk, very grounded, considered by some of the CDWC as almost an embarrassment. Many of those in ‘The Society’ put their noses up to the Twmpath lot, it being too ‘base’ for them, not refined and rarified enough, and also, for some, having too much of the ‘ceilidh’ about it (Englishness)…

There are plenty of sessions in Cymru, some are mixed, though tending to be predominantly Irish, or along the borders having a considerable English content. There area also ‘Welsh Only’ sessions, that ignore the fact that much of the music, despite the Welsh names they’ve been given, originate from elsewhere. It isn’t worth telling them that, let them have their fun. There used to be a couple of French/Breton/Euro type sessions too. Some tunes of that sort also find their way into the mixed sessions…

Any music shop will probably be a good start for finding contacts when you get there. I’ve no doubt you’ll enjoy yourself, culture shock aside. The place will never be the same, but the world is in constant flux anyway. ;-)

Best of luck!!!

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You obviously have to be a man to join Cymdeithas Ddawns Werin Cymru!

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‘mehitabel23’ ~ to further your interests, and with regards to your want to form a club, one might already exist, here’s the organization ~

Urdd Gobaith Cymru ~ in Welsh & English

‘The family’ have all benefited from involvement with this lot. My nieces and nephews still do, and my one neice in Cardiff who is studying to be a doctor is in the University Welsh Folk group ~ dance and music ~ and the costumes too. She’s a sweetheart…

I forgot to add ‘granama’ to the members list. The name change had thrown me a bit, but I suspect that’s the old soup spoon. Jemtheflute sounds like a good bet for making contact too, as others have mentioned, someone already haven given you a link above. Send them all an email…


More ~

Calennig (Mick Tems & the gang)

Crasdant (Robin Huw Bowen & company)

I’d forgotten to mention the other extension to these. Once you’ve checked out a recording and followed a link to a tune, then check the recording listing in the details for the tune for other sources. There are quite a few Welsh tunes on this site….

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cheers for all that ‘c’! This has been so helpful guys! I was expecting much more cynical responses :-)

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strayaway ~ not all things with ‘balls’ are male… ;-)

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I forgot to say mehitabel, here’s your best first collection, repeating what has already been said:

"Blodau’r Grug: 100 Popular Welsh Folk Dance Tunes"
Alex Hamilton / Robin Huw Bowen
Cymdeithas Ddawns Werin Cymru = The Welsh Folk Dance Society, 1992

The second book, "Cadw Twmpath", is not so good. It has more compositions and, to be frank, a higher percentage of cack tunes. There are some nice ones, but the percentage is small…

Here, to dig my hole deeper, and for your amusement, are my old notes for that second collection ~ quoting myself ;-) ~

‘Cadw Twmpath’ ~
"Some of these tunes, too many to bother listing, read like exercises or studies, others, like the 2nd part shadows of a hinted at other tune, like a bad harmony part. I would not recommend this collection to anyone except a collector of antiquities and curiosities ~ What a load of cr*p that would have been better turned over in the garden to prepare for fresh seed. Why dig these back up?" :-/

To end on a positive point ~ Robin Huw Bowen’s printed output, half a dozen publications, includes some great tunes…

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There are sheep in Wales.

Do not molest these. They may be booby-trapped, or alternatively be midgets from the SAS out on manoeuvres in disguise.

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A good tune book of Welsh music is available from:

http://kinetic.seattle.wa.us/fish.html (scroll down)

No online ordering, so you would have to snail-mail a money order in U.S. funds—but no worries, they are trustworthy people, well known in local session circles.

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I don’t know about their Welsh collection, but the Irish ones raised some anger as they seemed to be just ripping off notes from pre-existing collections rather than doing any real work on the music, other than number crunching to get as much crammed between the covers as they could. With that in mind I wouldn’t be surprised if the same were true of their Welsh colleciton, ripped off from already mentioned collections. I find such mass piracy irritating, lazy…

Note: I had only seen an earlier edition of "Smoke in Your Eyes" and was put off by all the note-for-note rip offs…

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Just traced the Welsh side of my family back to Wales - hill farming folk from deepest Radnorshire.

As for the music, the Rough Guide to the Music of Wales is as good a place to start as any. Look out for the album Ffydil which is of course, Welsh trad fiddle music and will demonstrate the clear distinction from Irish and English trad. Fernhill are an excellent contemporary Welsh folk group and also in a contemporary vein with a big nod to the trad are Ffynnon - Celtic Music From Wales is worth seeking out.

If you’re in the UK and have Sky, SC4 has some Welsh trad music stuff on (though the name escapes me), and also features musicians from Ireland and England.

Iechyd da!

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Hi mehitabel23, and croeso! Welcome to Wales. Thanks to the nice folk who’ve mentioned me above. Unfortunately I’m at the wrong end of Wales to meet up with you these days, about 150 miles from Llantwit Major! However, I used to know it fairly well in my Cardiff days.

Most of what advice I could give has already been included by various folks above. I’d only add that one of the best, longest standing folk clubs in Wales is at Llantrisant, not too far from where you’ll be, and is run by the aforementioned Mick Tems and Pat Smith. They have a website: http://www.folkwales.org.uk/

Other useful links include the Folk Development agency for Wales, trac, at http://www.trac-cymru.org/ and the folk music magazine for Wales (all kinds of trad music activity, Welsh and non,) Taplas - http://www.taplas.co.uk/ - worth getting hold of/subscribing for its listings of events and sessions etc. Then there is the Welsh Traditional Instrument Society CLERA - http://www.clera.org/saesneg/news.htm - (the off-spring of which the Clerorfa, is representing Wales at Lorient this year - I’m in it/going, yay!). You can also subscribe from the trac website to a regular e-mail bulletin of forthcoming folk events - well worth doing. WTM specialists active in the Cardiff area include Gareth Westacott, Guto Dafis, Bob Evans, Antwn Owen-Hicks, just for starters.

I’m too far and long away from the Cardiff area to know what is really going on there these days, though I believe there is a specifically WTM session still in Y Mochyn Du (THe Black Pig) in Canton, Cardiff (near the National Sports Centre at Sophia Gardens), just off Cathedral Road, and probably at least a couple of ITM sessions somewhere, but I doubt there’s anything much happening regularly out in the Vale. (Incidentally I recently met in Dolgellau a fine singer/bodhran player called Cat who is soon moving to Llantwit Major from West Wales somewhere - look out for her!)

If you are as you imply, a teacher, particularly Primary, you’ll soon discover that even English medium schools have to include something called "Welsh Curriculum/Cwricwlwm Cymreig" in their work. Huw "Clogs" Williams (member of Crasdant, formerly of Huw & Tony Williams) does lots of work in that area, going into schools as a resource.

The WTM world is a relatively small one, and though like most things in Wales it has quite a North-South divide, most of the active people know each other. Most of ‘em are pretty approachable and willing to be helpful.

If you want to contact me directly (jemhammond@yahoo.co.uk), I can send you some handout type documents I keep on my computer of WTM links, bibliography etc.

Re: the rain! Where I live we are in a double rain shadow - Snowdonia and the Clwydian/Berwyn ranges of hills, so it is relatively dry - the rain that gets past those hills mostly goes on to dump on Manchester when it hits the next major lump, the Pennines. However, Cardiff and most of the south coast of Wales is pretty wet and windy - classic Atlantic weather, just like the West Country and western Ireland. FWIW, when I went to Uni in Cardiff everyone from all over the rest of Britan thought it was unspeakably wet. Coming from Devon/Cornwall, I though it was a bit drier than what I was used to! Slightly less horizontal gale-force drizzle! That city is, however, a graveyard of umbrellas. If it is wet enough to need one, it is usually too windy to use one and have it survive!

Pob hwyl!

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Oh yeah, Abby/mehitabel23, where are you coming from and what do you play?

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Hi Jem, thanks for the reply! For Irish trad music I play the tin whistle but my battalion also consists of a piano accordion (which I use mostly for French and Breton purposes). I’m still at school (my reason for moving is a place at Atlantic College, which is at St Donat’s, near Llantwit Major). I’m currently living in Bath, so I’m not expecting the weather to be massively different (surprise me :-)).

As AC is a pretty small community I imagine that it will be difficult to get to Cardiff (I anticipate once a fortnight) especially for evening sessions - you don’t happen to know of any ITM/WTM/ETM (HA!) afternoon sessions around Cardiff? (Or any sessions in Barry…).

Thanks for your help so far!!


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Ahhh, I see. I know St Donats, though not well - went to several gigs in the Tithe Barn there way back in my Cardiff days. You are doubtless right about transport/communication difficulties unless you drive and have your own wheels. I’m afraid that, as I said, I know little about the current scene in the area, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find out from the links I and others have given. E-mail me at the address I gave you above and I’ll send you that bumf.

Bath is sheltered, inland and dry compared to St Donats, which is pretty much on a cliff top!

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And I guess the heating’s not going to be great in the 13th century castle…

AC is very open to students starting new clubs and activities which is why I’m hopeful about setting up some kind of folk club or session. There isn’t one at the moment (to my surprise) but I’m sure I can sort that one out! I’ve emailed you Jem.

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If you want a couple of Cardiff contacts eg one for Welsh and one for Irish etc. I can pass them on if you send me a message.

If you’re thinking of visiting Cardiff you should go to the Accoustic Music Club on the first Tuesday of the month. Bob Evans and others regularly perform there.