RigantonaLiath Hollins, Harpist

This album 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

Liath Hollins

 

 

 

Rigantona album notes

01. The Old Grey Mare
02. A Broken Song
03. Guilderoy
04. Windsong
05. Greensleeves
06. Fonn Ghillebride
07. The Fairy Host
08. Binnorie
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 Grey Mare

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 Song

This piece 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.

03. Guilderoy

The tune to a well known Scottish ballad about a charming rogue punished for his dalliance with the wrong lady...

04. Windsong

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.

05. Greensleeves

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

This tune 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 section.

07. Fairy Host

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 voice.

08. Binnorie

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

Last year, 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

Another Welsh 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.

12. Plains of Annwn

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.

To contact Liath, click to email or telephone 0115 925 3737 / 0783 183 3310