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Bards, and promulgated a body of institutes to amend their manners and correct their art.

A MS. transcribed in the time of Charles the First by Robert ap Hugh, of Bodwigan, in the Isle of Anglesey, from William Penllyn's book, is the Charter of Welsh Music. It contains the most ancient pieces of music of the Britons handed down from the ancient Bards. All the music is written for the crwth in an alphabetical notation. It gives an account of the Musical Congress and revolution of 1100. It dealt with several subjects:Firstly The four and twenty Measures or Canons of Instrumental Music. All were made conformable to the laws of harmony as they were settled in Congress by many professors, Welsh and Irish. The twenty-four Canons consisted of a given number of repetitions of the chords of the tonic and dominant, according to the length of each measure.



Secondly The five principal keys of Welsh music were established. The first was :-" Is-gywair "-the low key or key of C. The second, "Cras-gywair"—the sharp key The third, "Lleddf-gywair”—the oblique flat key or key of F. The fourth, "Go-gywair "—where the third above the key note is flat. The fifth, "Bragod gywair "—mixed or minor key.

or key of D.

Thirdly: The orders of the Bards and Musicians were separated, and each was placed on a statutory footing. Of the Musical Bards :-The first were performers on the harp; the second were the performers on the six-stringed crwth; and the third were the singers, i.e., singers to the harps of others. They were to be able to tune the harp and crwth, to play the thirteen principal tunes with all their flats and sharps, and to be able to restore a song corrupted by transcribers.

Fourthly: The manner of holding an Eisteddfod, the

granting of literary degrees, and the revision of rules for the composition and performance of music. The Eisteddfod was a rigid school. There were triennial examinations for Bards and Musicians; and any disciple who at the expiration of his triennial term could not obtain a higher degree, was condemned to lose that which he already possessed. Four musical degrees were recognised the last degree was Pencerdd Athraw or Doctor of Music.

The next authority on Welsh music is Giraldus Cambrensis. Writing in 1187, he states with reference to the Welsh: "They do not sing in unison, like the inhabitants of other countries, but in many different parts. So that in a company of singers, which one frequently meets with in Wales, as many different parts and voices are heard as there are performers; who all at length unite, with organic melody, in one consonance and the soft sweetness of B flat." This, if accurate, proves that counterpoint was known to the Welsh at this time, and that Welsh music was in the modern key system. "Singing a song in four parts with accentuation" was one of the twentyfour ancient games of the Welsh, and is corroborative proof on this point. This reference to there being as many parts as there are singers, and the singing being not in unison, but in harmony, has led some writers to the conclusion that harmony was a British invention. The credit is generally given to Dunstable (1400-20), who by making each voice-part independent raised music to the rank of a structural art. Dr. Burney says that Giraldus Cambrensis is inaccurate, and his criticism is that counterpoint, however artless, is too modern for such remote antiquity.

The earliest example of Welsh music is of the time of Charles the First, and is in the British Museum, and pur

ports to contain music settled in 1040. This MS. is doubtless copied from much earlier records, and contains pieces for the harp, or more probably for the crwth, in full harmony. There is no doubt that some of the songs, i.e., the words, are as old as 1040, and the prose contained in the MS. is to be found in Dr. Rhys' Welsh and Latin Grammar of 1592, but whether the tunes and notation are coeval with the words is a question for experts.

Giraldus' statement, written in 1137, that "the Welsh are emulous to imitate the Irish in musical proficiency," has given rise to great controversy as to how far the Welsh borrowed or adopted their music from Ireland. There is no ground for such a suggestion, and in 1204 the same author wrote: "The Welsh esteemed skill in playing on the harp beyond any kind of learning"; and "to be ignorant of music is as disgraceful as not to have learnt to read." How could this be said of a nation that had recently begun to study music?

The period between the years 1100 and 1282, the era preceding Llewelyn Ein Llyw Olaf, and the conquest of Wales, is the brightest in our annals. The remaining history of Welsh music is speedily told. Edward the First kept a stern eye on Welsh Bards and Musicians, as was but natural, for he rightly regarded them as hostile to his power, and the most powerful advocates of Welsh independence.

In Henry the Fourth's time there was a sudden burst of song to welcome Glyndwr's achievements, but with his failure the Muse too was extinguished. The Tudor succession gave freedom to Welsh Bards and Musicians, but by the time of Elizabeth minstrels and rhymers had become intolerable and were put down by Act of Parliament. The Statute classed the strolling singer with rogues and vagabonds and sturdy beggars, or as the popular

couplet puts it :—


Beggars they are by one consent,

And rogues by Act of Parliament."

Thus was the measure of their humiliation complete, and they fulfilled the fate of their Greek prototypes. Dr. Burney traces in four stages the decline of all of the musicians of Greece. At first they were gods; then they became heroes, subsequently they were called bards, and, lastly, they became beggars. When reading was little practised, when newspapers were unknown, the minstrel thrived. The introduction of printing and the spread of knowledge were fatal to the prestige of his past position. When men learnt their letters they forgot their harp and crwth.

Having now sketched the history of early Welsh Music, I now come to deal with :—



This part of my subject has been exhaustively dealt with by Edward Jones (Bardd y Brenin), in his great work on The Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards, and by Mr. John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia), in his learned contribution to the Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales.

In ancient Welsh works "to play upon the harp" is expressed by the phrase "to sing upon the harp" (Canu ar y delyn). The same idiom is applied to the crwth. This Canu ar y delyn meant at first that the harp music was the melody and that it sang, the chords being played upon the crwth as an accompaniment. Later, when the penillion were recited in harmony, with the melody played on the harp, the human voice gave the words and the harp the melody. In this sense the harp sang, and the Welsh phrase, Canu ar y delyn, is justified.

It is certain that folk-music preceded the folk-tale, and it is more than probable that instrumental singing, as I have just explained, came before voice singing, or in the terse words of our own language:-Mae cerdd tant yn foreuach na cherdd tafod.

This order of development has a most important bearing upon the music of Wales. The Tri chof ynys Prydain, which dealt with the chronicling of battles, the preservation of the language, and the history of genealogy, were at all times reduced to a form that should be suitable for singing. The crwth is referred to in the year 600— Chrotta Brittanica canat. Curiously enough, it was at one time used as a tenor accompaniment to the harp, so that the crwth supplied the instrumental music and the harp sang" the melody.


Edward Jones says that the musical instruments of the Welsh were six in number:-The harp, crythan (two kinds, one with three strings and the other with six), bagpipes, pibgorn, bugle horn, and the tabret (or drum). Of these the harp and the crwth were the favourites.

An attempt was made in 1100 by Gryffydd ap Cynan to introduce the pipes from Ireland, but the attempt failed, and the native music refused to be displaced by the proposed importation. Nor is this to be wondered at; for why should a people that loved the harp waste any affection upon the pipes. The Bards ridiculed the pretensions of the alien pipes, though they came to Wales under Royal patronage. Davydd ap Gwilym said :—

"Ni luniwyd ei pharwyden

Nai chreglais ond i Sais tren."

But the harp was lovingly reverenced, the language of the soul dwells on the strings-Iaith enaid ar ei thannau. So that when eight hundred years ago it was endeavoured to inculcate a taste in Wales for foreign music, public

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