Caneuon Gwerin

Archwilio ac arddangos caneuon Gwerin o Gymru / Exploring and showcasing folk songs from Wales

Archive for the category “Sea”

The Lass of Swansea Town / Swansea Barracks

Caneuon Cymreig yn Saesneg

Yn 2009 cefais y cyfle i ganu yng Ngwyl Gwerin Bromyard fel rhan o fy ngwobr o ennill y Fred Jordan Memorial Prize yn yr ŵyl blwyddyn yn gynharach. Roedd Paul a Liz Davenport yn perfformio mewn nifer o’r un cyngherddau a fi ac ar ôl un ohonynt cawsom sgwrs am ganeuon Cymreig mewn Saesneg. “Mae’n rhaid bod llawer iawn ohonynt ar gael” meddai Paul ond doeddwn i methu meddwl am un!

Ers cael y sgwrs yma efo’r Davenports dwi wedi bod yn cadw llygad allan am ganeuon Saesneg sydd yn dod o neu wedi eu casglu yng Nghymru ond mae nhw wedi bod yn eithaf anodd i’w darganfod! Mae’r traddodiad canu gwerin yng Ngymru wedi ei gynnal yn rhannol gan yr Eisteddfod ers degawdau felly dydy caneuon Saesneg eu hiaith ddim wedi cael yr un llwyfan a’r rhai Gymraeg. Serch hyn, dwi wedi llwyddo i ddarganfod rhai caneuon Saesneg ar CDs ac mewn archifau. Y cyntaf dwi am addangos yw The Lass of Swansea Town.

Phil Tanner
Tua 10 mlynedd yn ôl cafais CD Phil Tanner, The Gower Nightingale, yn anrheg Nadolig. Roeddwn i arfer gwrando arni yn fy ngwely min nos yng Ngoleg yr Iwerydd i ganslo allan sŵn y pobl roeddwn i’n rhannu ystafell efo! Mae’r CD yn dechrau efo trafodaeth 5 munud a hanner o hyd gan Wynford Vaughan Thomas ynglŷn â bywyd Phil a roeddwn i fel arfer yn cwympo i gysgu cyn i’r canu dechrau!

Pan llwyddais i aros ar ddihun am ddigon hir i wrando ar y caneuon roeddwn i wedi fy siomi briadd. Doedd hwn ddim yn CD o ganeuon slic oedd yn aros mewn tiwn ac efo trefiannu newydd a diddorol fel fy hoff CD ar y pryd – Ffawd gan Julie Murphy a Dylan Fowler. Fel gantores gwerin hyn a mwy aeddfed, dwi rwan yn sylweddoli bod CDs fel un Phil yn ddolen hanfodol i’r gorffennol. Bydd ddim modd i bobl fel Julie a Dylan gwneud gosodiadau newydd, cyffroes a diddorol tasu cyrff fel y BBC ddim wedi recordio pobl fel Phil.

The Lass of Swansea Town / Swansea Barracks
Ar CD The Gower Nightingale mae cân o’r enw ‘Swansea Barracks’. Mae stori y gân yn un gyfarwydd – mae dynes yn aros wrth glan y môr i’w cariad dod adref ac mae dyn yn dod heibio i ddweud wrthi bod ei chariad wedi marw. Mae Mike Waterson hefyd yn canu’r gân ond mae o wedi ychwanegu pennill lle mae’r dyn yn datgelu taw fo yw’r cariad a bod o ddim wedi marw wedi’r cyfan. Yn aml mewn caneuon fel hyn dydy’r merch ddim yn coeli’r dyn tan iddo dangos modrwy neu arwydd arbennig felly mae’r math yma o gân yn cael ei alw’n gân ‘broken token’.

Mae Brian Hicks yn dweud ar ei wefan bod o wedi dod o hyd i hyd yn oed mwy o eiriau lle mae’r dyn y profi taw fo yw’r cariad cywir trwy dangos craith ar ei frest. Dydy’r geiriau hyn ddim yn ffitio’r alaw yn dda iawn felly dwi ddim yn defnyddio nhw. Efallai bod Brian Hicks yn defnyddio alaw amgen.
Mae Phil Tanner yn canu mewn tempo eithaf hwylus ond mae Jon Boden (a dysgodd hi gan Mike Waterson) yn mynd i’r cyfeiriad gwahanol gan ganu hi’n araf a thrist. Mae hwn yn gweddus i lawer o’r cân ond, yn fy marn i, mae geiriau cariadus y corws a’r pennill olaf ychwanegol yn gwneud hi’n gân gobeithiol felly dwi’n hoffi canu hi mewn arddull mwy fel Phil Tanner.

Gwreiddiau
Mae sawl wraidd posib i’r gân yma. Yr un mwyaf amlwg yw bod hi’n gân sydd wedi ei ysgrifennu, canu a chasglu yn ardal Abertawe. Daeth y gân i’r amlwg ar ôl i Phil cael ei a recordio gan y BBC ar 20 Mai, 1949 ym Mhenmaen. Ymddangosodd y recordiad ar Phil Tanner (EFDSS, 1968), A Soldier’s Life for Me (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 8; Topic, 1970) a The Gower Nightingale (Veteran, 2003). Cafodd Phil eni a’i magu yn y Gwŷr ac os taw fo ydy’r unig person mae’r gân wedi cael ei gasglu oddi wrth, a gan for y gân wedi ei osod yn Abertawe, gallwn tybio taw gân Cymreig yw hwn. Hefyd, mae Ceri Rhys Matthews yn credu bod Phil wedi cyfansoddi’r alaw ei hun. Os ydy hyn yn wir mae’r gân yn o leisf hanner Cymreig.

Ond dydy pawb ddim yn cytuno efo hwn. Dywedai Peter Kennedy yn nodiadau A Soldier’s Life for Me bod y gân yn fersiwn o’r gân Gwyddelig ‘The Blooming Rose of Antrim’ / ‘The Flower of Corby Mill’. Yn nodiadau The Gower Nightingale mae Roy Palmer yn anghytuno efo hyn. Mae o’n nodi bod argraffwyr arfer creu taflenni o’r enw ‘The Lass of -Shire’ fel bod y cantorion yn gallu ychwanegu enw eu hardal nhw i’r gân.

Cyhoeddwyd John Harkness (Preston) a Birt (Llundain) ‘The Lass of -Town’ efo cyfarwyddion bod hi i’w ganu ar yr alaw Irish Molly O ond dydy Phil Tanner ddim yn canu i’r alaw yma. Mae fy ffrind Laura Smyth yn canu gân o’r enw ‘The Lass of Manchester Town’ efo alaw tebyg ‘The Lass of Swansea Town’ Phil Tanner ac roedd band o’r enw Oak yn canu ‘The Lass of Newcastle Town’ felly mae’r esboniad yma yn dal dŵr. Serch hyn, mae Palmer yn ddatgan yn hyderus “Suggestions that there is an Irish version of this song, as The Blooming Rose of Antrim, have proved unfounded, and Phil Tanner’s recording is apparently unique.”

Ar wefan the Digital Tradition Mirror mae’n dweud bod y geiriau (rhai Brian Hicks, nid Phil Tanner) wedi eu casglu gan y teulu Kenny o Kitchuses, Newfoundland, a hefyd bod Ken Peacock wedi trawsysgrifio hi gan ganu Harry Curtis o Joe Batt’s Arm, Newfoundland, yng Ngorffennaf 1952. Dwedodd Harry bod o wedi dysgu’r gân pan stopiodd ei long cargo yng Ngymru pan oedd o’n gweithio ar y llong.

Ble nesaf
Gallwch clywed fersiynnau o’r gân yn y llefydd canlynol:

Phil Tanner, Phil Tanner, EFDSS, 1968
Phil Tanner, A Soldier’s Life for Me, The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 8, Topic, 1970
Phil Tanner,The Gower Nightingale, Veteran, 2003
Roy Harris, The Rambling Sailor, Fellside Recodings Ltd, 1995
Mike Waterson, Mike Waterson, Topic, 1999
The Watersons, Mighty River of Song, Topic, 2004
The Watersons, For Pence and Spicy Ale, Topic, 2006
Jon Boden, A Folk Song A Day: March, Navigator Records, 2011

Yn ol y wefan Digital Tradition Mirror mae hi wedi ei gyhoeddi yn Songs of the Newfoundland Outports gan Amgueddfa Cenedlaethol Canada, 1965.

Os hoffech clywed mwy o ganeuon gwerin ynglŷn ag Abertawe chwiliwch am ‘Swansea Town’ neu ‘I’m Going Home to Swansea Town’ sy’n cael ei ganu i alaw y gân ‘Holy Ground’ ac sydd i’w gael ar:
Max Boyce, The Very Best of Max Boyce, 2005,
The Sherringham Shantymen, All at Sea, Clovelly Recordings Ltd, 2008
The Band of the Prince of Wales’ Division, We’ll Keep a Welcome, Bandleader Records, 2010

Welsh songs in English

In 2009 I was give the opportunity to sing at Bromyard Folk Festival as part of my reward for having won the Fred Jordan Memorial Prize at the festival the previous year. Paul and Liz Davenport were performing in several of the same concerts as me and after one of them we had a chat about English language Welsh songs. Paul said there must be loads of them but I couldn’t think of any!

Since having this chat with the Davenports I’ve been keeping an eye out for songs in English which come from or have been collected in Wales but they’ve been quite hard to find! For decades the folk song tradition in Wales has been partly sustained by the Eisteddfod so English language songs haven’t been given the same platform as the Welsh language ones. Nevertheless, I’ve been able to find a few English songs on CDs and in archives. The first one I want to showcase is The Lass of Swansea Town.

Phil Tanner

About 10 years ago I received Phil Tanner’s CD, The Gower Nightingale, for Christmas. I used to listen to it in bed at night to cancel out the noise of my Atlantic College dorm mates! The CD begins with a 5 and a half minute speech by Wynford Vaughan Williams about Phil’s life so I usually fell asleep before the singing started!

When I managed to stay awake long enough to listen to the songs I was a bit disappointed. This wasn’t a CD of slick songs sung in tune with interesting, new arrangements like you could find on my favourite CD at the time – Ffawd by Julie Murphy and Dylan Fowler. As an older, more mature folk singer, I’ve now realised that CDs like Phil’s are an essential link to the past. It wouldn’t be possible for people like Julie and Dylan to create new, interesting, different arrangements if organisations like the BBC hasn’t recorded people like Phil.

The Lass of Swansea Town / Swansea Barracks

On Phil’s CD there’s a song called Swansea Barracks. The song’s story is familiar – a woman by the sea shore is waiting for her lover to come home and a man comes by to tell her that her love has died. Mike Waterson also sang this song – albeit with the title The Lass of Swansea Town – and he added an extra verse in which the man reveals himself to be the woman’s lover, alive and well. Often in songs like this the woman doesn’t believe the man until he shows her a ring or a special sign so this type of song is called a ‘broken token’ song.

On his website Brian Hicks says that he has found even more lyrics where the man proves that he is the true lover by showing her a scar on his chest. These extra words don’t fit the tune very well so I don’t use them. Perhaps Brian Hicks uses an alternative tune.
Phil Tanner sings the song in an upbeat tempo but Jon Boden (who learnt it from Mike Waterson) goes in the opposite direction singing it slowly and sadly. This is appropriate for a lot of the song but, in my opinion, the loving words of the chorus and the additional last verse make it a hopeful song, so I prefer to sing it in more of a Phil Tanner style.

Origins

This song has several possible origins. The most obvious is that it’s a song written, sung and collected in the Swansea area. The song came to light when Phil was recorded by the BBC on 20 May, 1949 in Penmaen. The recording appeared on Phil Tanner (EFDSS, 1968), A Soldier’s Life for Me (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 8; Topic, 1970) a The Gower Nightingale (Veteran, 2003). Phil was born and bred in the Gower and if he’s the only person it’s been collected from, and as the song is set in Swansea, we can presume that it’s a Welsh song. Also, Ceri Rhys Matthews believes that Phil composed the tune himself which would make the song at least half Welsh!

But not everyone agrees. Peter Kennedy said ih the sleeve notes for A Soldier’s Life for Me that the song is a version of the Irish song ‘The Blooming Rose of Antrim’ / ‘The Flower of Corby Mill’. In The Gower Nightingale sleeve notes Roy Palmer refutes this. He notes that publishers used to create sheets called ‘The Lass of -Shire’ so that singers could insert the name of their area into the song.

John Harkness of Preston and Birt of London published ‘The Lass of -Town’ with instructions that it should be sung to the tune of Irish Molly O but this isn’t the tune that Phil Tanner uses. My friend Laura Smyth sings a song called ‘The Lass of Manchester Town’ to a similar tune to ‘The Lass of Swansea Town’ and a band called Oak used to sing ‘The Lass of Newcastle Town’ so this explanation makes sense. Despite this, Palmer confidently states “Suggestions that there is an Irish version of this song, as The Blooming Rose of Antrim, have proved unfounded, and Phil Tanner’s recording is apparently unique.”

On the Digital Tradition Mirror website it says that the words (Brian Hicks’ words, not Phil Tanner’s) were collected from the Kenny family from Kitchuses, Newfoundland, and also that Ken Peacock had transcribed it from the singing of Harry Curtis from Joe Batt’s Arm, Newfoundland, in July 1952. Harry said they he had learnt the song when the cargo vessel he was working on stopped in Wales.

Where next?

You can hear versions of the song in the following places:
Phil Tanner, Phil Tanner, EFDSS, 1968
Phil Tanner, A Soldier’s Life for Me, The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 8, Topic, 1970
Phil Tanner,The Gower Nightingale, Veteran, 2003
Roy Harris, The Rambling Sailor, Fellside Recodings Ltd, 1995
Mike Waterson, Mike Waterson, Topic, 1999
The Watersons, Mighty River of Song, Topic, 2004
The Watersons, For Pence and Spicy Ale, Topic, 2006
Jon Boden, A Folk Song A Day: March, Navigator Records, 2011

Songs of the Newfoundland Outports by the National Museum of Canada, 1965.

If you’d like to hear more folk songs about Swansea try ‘Swansea Town’ or ‘I’m Going home to Swansea Town’ which sung to the tune of a song called ‘Holy Ground’ and is available on:
Max Boyce, The Very Best of Max Boyce, 2005,
The Sherringham Shantymen, All at Sea, Clovelly Recordings Ltd, 2008
The Band of the Prince of Wales’ Division, We’ll Keep a Welcome, Bandleader Records, 2010

This song has also been arranged by Holst and this can be found on these CDs, amoung many others:
Treorchy Male Voice Choir, Songs You Have Loved, EMI Records Ltd, 2009
Robert Shaw Chorale, Sea Shanties, BMG Music (the holst arrangement), 1961,

http://www.fresnostate.edu/folklore/ballads/Pea547.html
http://collections.mun.ca/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/munfla_list&CISOPTR=2642
http://www.worldcat.org/title/swansea-town-hampshire-folk-song/oclc/12193484 – which version?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Geofferybard/Draft_Essay_on_Videographic_Documentation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEDkZMzhMCg

Advertisements

Post Navigation