“Telynores Maldwyn, Brenhines Y Delyn / Queen of the Welsh Harp: Nansi Richards”
SCD 2382 ~ SAIN, 2003
“Launched at ‘the’ National Eisteddfod and at last transferred to CD, over 40 tracks recorded between 1947 and 1972 of triple harp melodies played by the most outstanding influence in traditional Welsh harp-playing of the 20thcentury.”
Nansi was Romany by birth and represented that minority tradition in Cymru / Wales as well…
“Nansi Richards - Telynores Maldwyn”
That may have been a slip, as I can’t confirm that she was Romany, however, they were a strong influence on her music ~ here is an extract from the earlier SAIN recording:
"Nansi Richards spent her last years ~ when she was not travelling around! ~ in the Montgomeryshire farmhouse where she was born in 1888. With the exception of electricity and piped water, the house and furnishings remained virtually unchanged since the day it became the family home over 300 years ago.
In her childhood and youth, the farmhouse was a regular venue for itinerant Romany harpists, fiddlers and dancers of the famous Wood tribe and the surrounding countryside supplied poets, penillion-singers and ballad mongers. In this atmosphere of homespun music-making and folk culture, Nansi Richards grew, learnt her craft, and became steeped in the traditions of her nation. ~
There was always an open door and a glowing hearth at Pen-y-Bont ~ "
I had an old recording of her that included people speaking the Romany tongue, and I’m sure one of them was a brother, but I do not have that recording on hand to confirm that. There was also a book produced on her life, but I sadly don’t have that on hand to refer to ~
“Nansi Richards - Telynores Maldwyn”
ISBN: 9780860741282 (0860741281)
Publication Date May 1996 Publisher: Gwasg Gwynedd
Edited by Nia Gwyn Evans
Format: Paperback, 96 pages
“A volume recording the story of the life and career of one of Wales’s most renowned harpists through the medium of letters, photographs and documents. Black-and-white photographs.”
Nansi and the roma
nansi knew and loved them well but its a gross overstatement to say they were a strong influence on her music. tom lloyd was nansi’s teacher and her music belongs firmly in the welsh triple harp tradition. the roma played a more general british repertoir - polkas, hornpipes, reels and so on, and nansi could certainly play with them. but hers was a far richer vein
the older recording you refer to is probably peter kennedy’s recording and so the speakers on that were hywel and manfri wood, brothers, but not to nansi.
eldra jarman was the last inheritor of the wood/roberts harp tradition. she gave up playing the harp many years before she died although she would get it out if persuaded. she played for me once. she had a very light touch and played girl with the blue dress on, over the cliff and so on
“gross overstatement” ~ hmmmm… 😏
Speaking of “gross overstatement” ~ ‘Influence’, as most of us in the passion know, who aren’t blinded by that passion, is more than the mere selection of melodies. I know, understand, but have little patience for the over puritanical purist approach to tradition. For one ~ the ‘triple harp’ is itself an introduction, and not exactly ‘Celtic’ in the purist sense. Any reasonable understanding of Nansi’s repertoire and technique, without blind adherence to the fanciful, will confirm the wider influences, including Romany. If you laugh, dance, play music with and enjoy the company of friends, in this case the Romany, it can only influence you, hopefully for the better, which I think is the case here. Nansi’s playing has a life to it that still breaths despite the debilitating influence of age, something that much of the modern classically stained, staid and stilted crop out of Cymru is sadly lacking, including much that imitates and follows in the shadow of other influences ~ Celtic, jazz, pop and otherwise. Those things that tend to aspire to the puritanical purist imaginations can be so stilted to be laughable ~ that clumsy, nervous response of pain and embarrassment…
Nansi’s influences were alive and current in her life, while some contemporary attempts are so obviously revivalist, clumsy, pompous, lacking the life, humour and emotions that those older traditions represented. ‘Life’ is something more. ‘Music’ was just a part of who ‘the people’ were, not the full picture ~ a representation, a reflection of that fuller picture. Too often this lack is made up or replaced by ego, an obsessive self-confidence in a basically uncompetitive situation, in the company of a few. Music and dance were a part of that tradition of life, but not the only focus, welcomed seasoning in often difficult times… It is sad there are so few Welsh Triple Harpists or players of the Welsh Crwth or Pipcorn, but all I’ve met so far have been convinced of their own expertise and importance, a few justifiably…
Thanks for the added information and the bits of clarification, always appreciated… There is no doubting the quality and spirit of Nansi’s playing, influence and traditions, whatever misunderstandings, preconceptions, ignorance or baggage we might carry… I try to open my baggage regularly for an airing, but finding musty things isn’t uncommon, things that need rearranging, airing or a good wash, or throwing out… I try not to take things for granted, which generally allows me the continued pleasures of surprise and growing understanding…