About the project
I’m a folk singer and I love finding new folk songs: songs which tell unusual stories, songs which paint a picture of extreme emotions, songs which make me laugh, songs which teach me something about history, songs with a painfully beautiful tunes which stay with you and songs with strange and unexpected lyrics. I’ve set up this blog to explore and showcase folk songs from Wales which fit some of these descriptions.
I usually find new songs by looking in folk song books or through hearing someone singing on CDs, on stage or in sessions. If you hear an English song you like on stage or in a session there’s a good chance that a quick google search will bring you to a page with the words, a youtube video and a discussion on mudcat café about the origins of the song. If you’re lucky, Jon Boden, the prolific folk singer, will have recorded the song as part of his A Folk Song A Day project which will provide a recording, discussion and also links to where you can continue researching the song.
If it’s a Welsh song that’s taken your fancy in a session or on a CD it’s a lot harder to find lyrics and information online. There’s a number of popular folk songs which have been subsumed into the classical genre and it’s easy enough to find information on these. But dig a little deeper and look for something like ‘Dadl Dau’ or ‘Deio Bach’ and it’s much harder to come across recordings or words, let alone videos, information or a discussion on the songs’ history and meaning.
I suspect I’m not the only one who feels frustrated by this situation and I’ve therefore decided to set up a website which will hopefully inspire discussion and introduce people to new Welsh folk songs. On this website I intend to showcase one Welsh folk song a week. I’ll provide a recording of myself singing the song, the lyrics, a literal translation and the information I’ve managed to collate, including on which CDs it appears. I’ll also invite readers to leave comments with more information, or to ask questions, about the song. I’m not going to provide musical notation; I believe it’s better to learn folk songs aurally and I don’t want to put any publishers out of a job!
In order to decide which songs to showcase I will look through my books and CDs for my favourite less well known songs. I’ll be searching through songs in archives in theNational Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, the National History Museum in St Fagans and the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library in Cecil Sharp House, London. I’ll also be happy to take requests from people following the blog!
I should admit at this point that I’m not setting up this website for purely altruistic reasons. I love singing and think there’s nothing better than the feeling of providing an audience with a new musical experience so I’m hoping that making a public promise to learn and record one song a week will encourage me to learn more songs. I hope the blog will allow me to reconnect and to play a role in the Welsh folk community, even if it’s only the virtual community at the moment. I also hope this project might lead to more gig bookings for me and for my folk band, The Foxglove Trio!
I’m looking forward to getting started with sharing songs and building a new online community where people can discover and discuss Welsh folk songs. I’m aiming to post my first song on 21 June – Midsummer’s day. Come back then to find out which song it will be…