“Nydd Y Gwcw” / “The Cuckoo’s Nest” ~ for Hetty
I suspect I had contributed this ages back and the title was mistaken as being the same as either of two other "Cuckoo’s Nest" titled tunes on site here, and sadly went as a few other things with shared names have ~ "POOF!". It isn’t the same, it is different, despite sharing the same name in English.
This is a Welsh tune I first learned straight, but it can and is also played with swing, and I sometimes take it that way too. I have given the ABC’s as I first learned it, straight. It is often filed with hornpipes but I have placed it here in the relative category of barndances.
I won’t be giving the English name in the alternate list, in part for the mistake previously experienced, and also because it would throw up a whole lot of unrelated recordings.
I have always favoured this tune in D, whether for strings or winds, and I love sluring between the F’s & E’s / f’s & e’s. For me it seems to move between Dorian and minor so I had some problems deciding on where to place it, but most transcripts put it as Dorian. Some whistle and flute players prefer E Dorian, but I think the fingering for D is a hell of a lot more fun and interesting, but it is a nice tune however you take it. I haven’t given it straight in this transcript, but takes from me in those two keys, D and E. I’ll add a simpler version for beginning players later.
As I said, one of my favourite Welsh tunes. I hope those of you after some Welsh music will like this one. Here’s the Welsh / Cymraeg, in translation and with pronunciation keys in English:
Nydd = nest
Knee - dd (the double ‘dd’ is the aspirated sound for ‘th’ as in ‘the’…
Y = the
uh ~ or ~ uhr
Gwcw, mutated from Cwcw = Cuckoo
goo - koo
“Nydd Y Gwcw” / “The Cuckoo’s Nest” ~ a basic setting
K: E Dorian
|: F2 |
GFGF E2 e2 | B2 B2 B2 A2 | GFGF E2 Bc | d2 d2 d2 F2 |
GFGF E2 e2 | B2 B2 B2 A2 | GFGF EFGA | B2 B2 e2 :|
|: B2 |
efgf e2 e2 | dcBA B2 B2 | efga b2 b2 | a2 e2 e2 f2 |
efgf e2 e2 | dcBA B2 A2 | GFGF EFGA | B2 B2 e2 :|
Well, one mistake was bound to slip through, the first take in D, the B-part, bar 6, the last G should have been natural:
~ | c=BA^G A3 =G | ~
“Welsh Dance Tunes” arranged for pianoforte by Hugh Mellor
Novello & Co. Ltd., London, 1930’s
Published by Cymddeithas Ddawns Werin Cymru / Welsh Folk Dance Society
Page 13: "Nyth Y Gwcw" / "The Cuckoo’s Nest"
In this transcription the second repeat of the A-part is played an octave higher. Here are Hugh Mellor’s notes for this tune:
" ~ heard and noted by the arranger from an itinerant fiddler in the streets of Bangor, North Wales, in 1927. A very similar variant, together with two other variants, appears in Bennett’s ‘Lays of My Land’, a collection of traditional airs. A rather distant variant with the same title of ‘The Cuckoo’s Nest’ was in use by the Morris dancers at Sherborne in the Cotswolds in the mid-nineteenth century. The latter, in the second part, has, curiously, a ‘Rosalie’, unusual in English folk music but common in Welsh."
Have you written the two keys slightly different on purpose?
I play nearer your Edorian version but in Ddorian.I’ve been playing Welsh tunes for a little while now in Wales and been to a few sessions but never heard it played with all those accidentals.It ‘s just strait Ddorian all the way through.
Yes, if I’m repeating it in a different key, I give it a different way, otherwise, as usually happens on site, the other key is deleted by the powers that be. So, if it isn’t a different take, it doesn’t survive. Jeremy feels that simple key changes, but the same tune, are better just mentioned in the comments, or the ABC’s given in the comments.
I had played this tune off and on, including in Cymru for dance and just for the craic. I prefer it in D Dorian but have also followed others who chose to play it in E Dorian. I play it with the occassional accidentals, as shown, and as confessed. The takes given are not copies from any tunebook or ‘straight’. As said, it is a favourite, so there is a tendency to have fun with it, and a kind of intimacy that leads to some variation on the ‘official’ versions… That is also why I gave a ‘straighter’, more ‘by-the-book’, version in the comments, choosing to do that in E as that seems to be the key favoured by most beginners and by some wind players in particular. I’m not particularly fond of Hugh Mellor’s D version where he takes the repeat of the A part up to the second octave, so only mention that in the notes. But his version, aside from that slight variation, is also ‘straight’… I’ll give that for those who would like to see it in a simpler form:
K: D Dorian
|: E |
FEFE D2 d2 | A2 A2 A2 G2 | FEFE D2 AB | c2 c2 c2 E2 |
FEFE D2 d2 | A2 A2 A2 G2 | FEFE DEFG | A2 A2 d2 e2 |
fefe d2 d’2 | a2 a2 a2 g2 | fefe d2 ab | c’2 c’2 c’2 e2 |
fefe d2 d’2 | a2 a2 a2 g2 | fefe defg a2 a2 d’4 ||
|: defe d2 d2 | cBAG A4 | defg a2 a2 | g2 d2 d4 |
fefe d2 d2 | cBAG A2 G2 | FEFE DEFG |1 A2 A2 d4 :|
2 A2 A2 d2 ||
As Hugh Mellor states in his notes, given above, he acquired some version of the tune he gave, probably close, from an itinerant fiddler on the streets of Bangor in 1927… However, I would question that his arrangement, as given above, especially the octave jump and rise in position, is anything other than his addition to the original tune he’d collected. Such additions and adjustments have always been common and not usually confessed to openly…everything needing to be pure and unsullied by the classical training, expectations and whims of the collector ~ and to satisfy a natural want to meet the expectations of his audience ~ ladies in parlours playing the pianoforte… 😉
Curiouser and curiouser.I learned a similar tune many years ago from a Welsh musician,only he called it Nyth Y Gog and he played it slow and stately.I’ve never heard it played as a barndance,but I’ve been exiled here in Belgium for the last thirty years.
|:FEFE D2A2|d2A2 A2G2|FEFE D2 AB|
c2B2 A2G2|FEFE D2 A2|d2A2 A2G2|
:d3d d2d2|cBAG A2B2|
d3d d2d2|cBAG A2G2|
FEFE DEFG|A2A2 D4:||
Sorry, I see my last sentence is a bit squiff of sense. The gist is that collectors of that time and earlier had a tendency to put a bit of their own fancy into their ‘arrangements’ of the ‘peasant’ music they were collecting for print, publication and sale. Arrangements of such, for pianoforte in this case, were usually only affordable by folks who had pianos and who had the dosh to pay for the collection, and back then it was usually ladies… To meet their expectations the transcriber would often make additions, sometimes something simple like playing the repeat of the A-part up an octave… His arrangement was for both hands, so there is additional room for ‘arranging’, not given here…
Right you are Dafydd, but there isn’t a ‘stately’ category. Since the tune can be played both straight and swung I placed it here with the barndance rather than hornpipes. It lies better with that varied and general category ‘country dances’, but that option isn’t here…
Thanks for the additional take. I have played it as you stated, but I have also played it a bit more briskly…andante ( = walking speed, as in country dancing…)… 😉
“Nyth Y Gog” = “Nyth Y Gwcw”
There were a number of tunes that took these names in Wales, and I have at least half a dozen distinct melodies. They include some of the old standards, the same melodies played in other realms in these isles, including Eire, Scotland and England, for a start, and known as "The Cuckoo’s Nest"…
“Nydd Y Gôg”
In Welsh / Cymraeg it would be: "Nydd Y Gôg" ~ ‘ô’ lengthens the sound of the ‘o’…
"Nydd Y Gôg" ~ pronunciation guide, and as you already have the first two Welsh words above I’ll only deal with the last:
Gôg = Cuckoo
‘Gog’, the o without its hat, is slang for someone from North Wales / Gogledd Cymru…
You’re right about nineteenth century collectors ceolachan.I have a photocopy of Nicholas Bennets’s "Alawon Fy Ngwlad" and the arrangements are diabolical.It takes a lot of spadework to dig the original tunes out.
“Nydd Y Gôg” ~ should be agog, and I’ll blame Dafydd
So what will I blame on Dafydd, eh? Let’s say for letting it out of the box, O.T.B., to run about, climb trees and shrumbs and get scratched and muddy ~ O.T.T.? Anyway this is having some fun with the many possibilities for this lovely air, with individual measures, but in this case slapping a lot of possibilities together, not necessarily recommended, but I’m innocent, it is all Dafydd’s fault, and meri-lawes should take some of the blame too… In this case I’ll do it to the EEEE! version… 😉
K: E Dorian
G2 F2 E2 e2 | Bc B/A/G A2 c/B/A | GAGF E2 c2 | dedA F2 BA |
G2 GF E2 ec | d2 A2 F2 D2 | G3 F E2 EA | Be d/e/f e3 B, |
GzGE zEez | BzBA zA BA | GzGE zE F/G/A | BzBF zFFB, |
GzzG z2 G2 | BzzB z2 B2 | GFE^D E2 GB | zB,-B,2 E4 ||
Efgf ee-ed- | dcBA AB-Be- | efga bb-ba- | agfe ^dB-B2 |
Ggzg ze g/f/e | dBzA zG F2 | G>FE^D E>FGA |1 BA-AG- GF E2 |
G2 gf e2 c2 | dedA FG A/G/F | e2 g2 b2 c’b | agfe d2 af |
G3 f ef e/d/c | dA A/A/A FD D/D/D | FGED E2 F/G/A | B,3 D E4 ||
Should have said, that madness above is at dance tempo, not slow and stately… Also, I’m not sure what a ‘shrumb’ is? ~ but you can climb it if you’re a melody…
When I started playing for English Cotswold Morris in the 60’s I became engrossed in the subtle variations in tunes from different dance traditions. In particular ‘Cuckoo’s Nest.’ I like your version "Nydd Y Gôg" too daffyd and I am now inclined to gather them all together.
‘Princess Royal’ is also another good tune comunf up with variations. I beleive them both to be quite old, have either of you any idea as to the earliest references to them?
Sadly I do not have all my ‘sources’ at hand, but since you asked I made a quick search and the earliest Welsh origin for this one that I was able to check is late 1800’s. I am sure I have also seen it in one of the country dance books from the 1700’s, but that is a hell of a lot of looking as I don’t have them databased yet and only have various of them either here on computer or on CD or DVD, a graphic of the pages so not easy to search. I did try using my OCR software to convert them but all the editing required afterwards was hell and I gave that up really quickly. I like this family of tunes though and will get back to you if I find anything, like in my own notes or elsewhere. I’m hoping others will contribute as well.
Thank you ‘c’ . I am both honoured and full of appreciation for both your knowledge and thoroughness.
I second that.
“Tro Llaw: A Collection of 200 ‘W’ Hornpipes from the National Library of Wales”
Collected, edited and arranged by Robin Huw Bowen
Printed at the private press of the National Library of Wales, 1987
The ‘W’ is for ‘Welsh’, however, many of the hornpipes gathered together in this collection were shared outside of that limiting discription…
Page 91, tune # 165 ~ "Nyth Y Gog" / "The Cuckoo’s Nest" (1 of 3)
This version, another in E Dorian, is simpler and in my opinion less interesting than any of those already offered here. However it’s source as given in an appendix does give us one date for its collection in Cymru / Wales:
NLW1213E, page 49 ~ melodies collected by Nicholas Bennett for ‘Alowan fy Ngwlad’, 1896…
I have spent some time with the library’s collections and many of the tunes there have English names, the Welsh names created later in order to fill a niche and satisfy a need some require for a thing to be considered truly ‘Welsh’, whether or not the Welsh musician who played and collected them called them by that name… I see no harm in that, if it allows the tune to be accepted in some of the ‘Welsh Only’ sessions… 😉 I happen to be very fond of the Welsh language…
Welsh dyslexia ~ Nyth = nest / Nyddu = spin
My pronunciation is sometimes ‘aspirated’ when it shouldn’t be… ( ‘dd’ = aspirated / ‘th’ = unaspirated )… 😏
Clarification ~ ‘dd’ = voiced / ‘th’ = unvoiced…
Cuckoo, Cuckoo ~
"The Cuckoo’s Nest"
Key signature: Gmajor
Submitted on March 2nd 2002 by Mad Baloney.
“The Cuckoo’s Nest” / “Eamonn McGivney’s”
Key signature: E Dorian
Submitted on September 29th 2003 by lazyhound.
"The Cuckoo’s Nest"
Key signature: Gmajor
Submitted on January 15th 2004 by gian marco.
"Nyth Y Gôg" / “Nyth Y Gwcw” / “The Cuckoo’s Nest”
Key signature: e minor
Submitted on November 17th 2006 by ceolachan.
"The Cuckoo’s Nest"
Key signature: Bdorian
Submitted on January 10th 2007 by Merry-Hielander.
Yikes—all those accidentals—the only version I know is a simple 2 part E dorian
“Nyth Y Gwgw” / “Nydd Y Gôg” ~ rescued duplication
Submitted on November 22nd 2009 by fiddlerdan.
T: Nyth Y Gwgw
T: Nydd Y Gôg
R: country dance
|: FEFE D2 d2 | A2 A2 G4 | FEFE D2 AB | c2 c2 E4 |
FEFE D2 d2 | A2 A2 G4 | FEFE DEFG | A2 A2 d4 :|
|: defe d2 d2 | cBAG A4 | defg a2 a2 | g2 d2 d3 e |
fefe d2 d2 | cBAG A3 G | FEFE DEFG | A2 A2 d4 :|
& converting that to ‘simple’ E Dorian, as feadog 06 hasn’t made it back here with one, with a few minor changes ~
T: Nyth Y Gwgw
R: country dance
|: F |\
GFGF E2 e2 | B2 B2 A4 | GFGF E2 Bc | d2 d2 F3 F |
GFGF E2 e2 | B2 B2 A4 | GFGF EFGA | B2 B2 e3 :|
|: f |\
efgf e2 e2 | dcBA B4 | efga b2 b2 | a2 e2 e3 f |
gfgf e2 e2 | dcBA B3 A | GFGF EFGA | B2 B2 e3 :|
& the notes: Nyth Y Gwgw
Learned from dancer/caller Danny Hathaway at the Centrum Dance Camp in ‘85.
It’s a traditional Welsh dance tune that translates to The Cuckoo’s Nest; but it’s not the same melody as the Irish Cuckoo’s Nest. It goes great in a medley with Childgrove (in Dm) as the first tune.
# Posted on November 22nd 2009 by fiddlerdan
“Nyth Y Gwcw” ~ another basic setting in Ddor
T: Nyth Y Gwcw
|: E |\
FEFE D2 d2 | A2 A2 G4 | FEFE D2 AB | c2 c2 E4 |
FEFE D2 d2 | A2 A2 G4 | FEFE DEFG | A2 A2 d3 :|
|: A |\
defe d2 d2 | cBA^G A4 | defg a2 a2 | g2 d2- d2 e |
fefe d2 d2 | cBA^G A3 =G | FEFE DEFG | A2 A2 d3 :|
Thanks to a friend, muspc, for pointing out an oversight. I was messing around with a transcription for some people I was teaching this to last night, as one of them heads off to live in their newly acquired house in Cymru/Wales. It was a break from the usual Irish, occasionally Lancashire, tunes we give time to.
Here’s the options for the 4th bar of the B-part, and we actually touched on these last night ~ rather than the incomplete bar given ~
~ | g2 d2- d3 e | ~ or ~ | g2 d2- d2 e2 | ~ or ~
~ | g2 d2 d3 e | ~ or ~ | g2 d2 d2 e2 |
Thanks muspc, now I have to check the transcription I’d sent out too. 😏 ~ 😉
I just picked up a book "Celtic Music For Guitar" by Allan Alexander. He has an arrangement of this tune he lists as "Nyth Cwcw" that is very similar to the settings above. The book comes with a CD with him playing his setting on the guitar.