is a collection of the music that I've been working on over the years. The
tracks range from new arrangements of favourite tunes to original songs
written from my place within the traditional music styles of Britain. It's
been a relief to get these tracks down - you can only hold so much inside
your head, and it is impossible to capture the spirit of a piece by writing
down notation. So here are the tunes and songs, as they are at this point
in time... I hope you enjoy them xxx
The Old Grey Mare
02. A Broken Song
06. Fonn Ghillebride
07. The Fairy Host
09. Pwt ar y Bys/Pant Corlan y Wyn
10. My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose
11. Y Dydd
12. Plains of Annwn
01. The Old
This is a
traditional Welsh tune that I have arranged in variations. This is a typically
Welsh style of arrangement; the original tune is first played very simply,
then increasingly elaborated on before coming full circle back to the simplicity
of the first version. This tune has the dubious honour of being the first
that I ever arranged, and as such is very special to me. In a way, it has
brought me full circle too - the recording of this album was both the closing
and opening of a new chapter for me.
02. A Broken
is actually a song, though I decided to record a purely instrumental version
this time. It was inspired by the writing of the Co. Antrim poet Moira O'Neill.
On reading her poem through, this tune instantly suggested itself.
The tune to
a well known Scottish ballad about a charming rogue punished for his dalliance
with the wrong lady...
I love writing
my own poetry and songs. This one was written for a poetry competition at
the Pagan Poetry Pages. I began with the tune - a traditional English melody
- which suggested the rushing, wuthering wind. The words just fell into
place around the music.
This one needs
no introduction! The famous tune supposedly written by Henry VIII (the dating
is wrong for this story to be true, but we do have other genuine tunes and
lyrics composed by him) given a new, elegant arrangement.
06. Fonn Ghillebride
was composed and taught to me by the harper Martin Wilford. I instantly
fell in love with it, and it was in my head while visiting the east coast
of Scotland a few weeks later. While watching the oystercatchers (the ghillebride
is the oystercatcher, Bride's bird) scurry and dart across the sands, the
syncopated accompaniment came to me, along with the central lilting 6/8
This was inspired
by an old Irish poem of the same name. I created more of a storyline to
the poem, adding the caution at the beginning, for these are not the twee
flower fairies of modern imagination, but dangerous slayers, ravagers of
the land, stealers of men. I'd no sooner shared the lyrics with a group
of friends, when one of them, Alexa Duir, instantly created the words that
became the spoken section. They were perfect, adding more to the cautionary
theme and creating a truly sinister atmosphere. We recorded the Fairy Host
almost as an afterthought, and finding ourselves with spare time, decided
to play around with it, adding some subtle effects to the unaccompanied
The tune of
a sad ballad known in various forms throughout Britain and Scandinavia.
Two sisters love the same man and one pushes the other into the mill stream
in a fit of jealousy. The girl drowns and her body floats down the stream
where it is found by a harper. The harper makes a harp using her breastbone
and her long golden hair as strings. He takes the harp to a wedding, which
(of course - this is a folk tale after all!) is the wedding of the cruel
sister to the man they had both loved. The harp begins to play of its own
accord, singing a song about the sisters crime. The cruel sister is punished,
but this is a sad story in which nobody lives happily ever after.
09. Pwt ar
y Bys / Pant Corlan y Wyn
Two well known
Welsh dances, the titles of which roughly translate as 'shearing time' and
'lambs fold valley'. I came across these tunes in my first few years of
harp playing, and over time have developed these lively arrangements, designed
to get feet tapping!
10. My Love
is Like a Red, Red Rose
I was invited to a Burns' Night celebration, and decided to play a few of
Burns' tunes as a party piece. However, on looking through my stacks of
harp music, I was dismayed to find very few decent arrangements. I ended
up writing this one the night before the party, and playing it remarkably
badly! However, since then it has become one of my favourites, I think I
captured the simple elegance of this famous tune.
11. Y Dydd
tune, the title translates as 'The Day'. This tune is not well known outside
of the harp community, but much loved within it. It was discovered by the
harpist Robin Huw Bowen, found it on a loose piece of paper in the National
Library of Wales. He passed it onto my teacher and thus eventually on to
me. Like the first piece, I've arranged it in variations, the first of which
is from the playing of the famous harpist Nansi Richards.
As we began,
so we end, with a tune dedicated to the Grey Mare. The words were written
by my dear friend Nick Ford (though he claims it just happened to be his
hand holding the pen at the time...). Likewise with the tune - once I'd
heard the words, it just dropped into my head and out onto the strings.
Liath, click to email or
telephone 0115 925 3737 / 0783 183 3310