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THE NATIONAL MUSIC OF WALES.
BY JOHN THOMAS, Esq. (Pencerdd Gwalia).
In the mythological traditions of Pagan nations we find the invention of their music and musical instruments attributed to their gods, or to superhuman beings of a godlike nature; which may account for the art being called to this day--the divine art. Some of these traditions are not only interesting but highly amusing; and the following legend, as given by Carl Engel, in his Myths and Facts, is worthy of notice :-“In the Finnish Mythology, the divine Vainamoinen is said to have constructed the five-stringed harp, called Kantele, the old national instrument of the Finns. The frame he made out of the bones of the pike, and the teeth of the pike he used for the tuning-pegs. The strings he made of hair from the tail of a spirited horse. When the harp fell into the sea and was lost, he made another, the frame of which was of birchwood and the pegs of the branch of an oak-tree. As strings for this harp he used the silky hair of a young girl. Vainamoinen took his harp, and sat down on a hill near a silvery brook. There he played with so irresistible an effect that he entranced whatever came within hearing of his music. Men and animals listened en
raptured; the wild beasts of the forest lost their ferocity ; the birds of the air were drawn towards him ; the fishes rose to the surface of the water, and remained immovable; the trees ceased to wave their branches; the brook retarded its course, and the wind its haste; even the mocking echo approached stealthily, and listened with the utmost attention to the heavenly sounds. Soon the women began to cry, then the old men and the children also began to cry; and the girls, and the young men-all cried for delight. At last Vainamoinen himself wept, and his big tears ran over his beard, and rolled into the water, and became beautiful pearls at the bottom of the sea.”
There was also the same tendency to immortalise those who displayed transcendent genius in the art of music.
At the death of Pythagoras, the celebrated Greek philosopher and musician, so great was the veneration of his countrymen for him, that he received the same honours as were paid to the immortal gods; and his house became a sacred temple.
Blegwryd ab Seisyllt, a British king, who flourished about 160 years before the Christian era, being a great musician and performer upon the harp, received the appellation of “God of Music”.
With regard to the source whence Britain derived her music and musical instruments, there appears very little doubt but that they were brought from the East, either by the inhabitants, in their original migration, or by the Phænicians, who, as is well known, had commercial intercourse with Britain from the earliest times.
The Greeks are said to have derived their music, with other arts and sciences, from Cadmus, a Phoenician, and from Cecrops, an Egyptian, who settled in Greece about two thousand years before the Christian era. Consequently, as I have already suggested, if we did not bring our music