Wrestling with Robert ap Huw

One of our English roses in old-fashioned bloom. If only scent files could be uploaded, you'd love this one even more...

My brain hurts.  Over the past week and a half I’ve been struggling to read and interpret the first several bars of Kaniad San Silin in the Robert ap Huw manuscript.  It’s eventually going to be rewarding, but right now I’m struggling with everything from the loopy letters to my utter lack of coordination in attempting to master some of the gestures.  This evening, I got to work once again on the bee’s plait and tafliad y bys.  It’s all sounding rather clunky at this stage, and sometimes the effects I create are hilarious in their ineptitude.

But I am happy–ah, very happy.  This difficult assignment is making me work hard, and that’s what I’ve wanted from lessons.  It’s the only way I’ll begin to see what sort of player I might become.

For comic effect, I may occasionally attach a sound file.  I’ll keep posting updates on my, er, progress.


Harp and Carp

Lately I’ve been thinking about the question of singing and harping.  Although I cannot imagine singing with the harp as a public performance, I would like to feel confident enough in my playing to sing and play simultaneously–at least for my own pleasure.

The garden in late May, 2010.

Over the past few months I’ve been working with my teacher, Simon Chadwick, on approaches to singing with the Gaelic harp.  He had learned a version of the Ballad of Thomas the Rhymer through a Scottish storyteller who died a few years back, and passed the song to me.  It is a different version from the others I know, and I quite like its simplicity.  I got the song in my head by singing it daily in the shower, while cooking, and while out walking.  Then came the basics of learning how to play simply on the harp.  I am still working on this part, and it is coming along slowly.

This past weekend, I met with Doug, a local harper (and my former teacher), and over the course of an evening, fueled by dark, delicious wine, we sang lots of creaky old Scottish and English ballads–you know, the rather creepy, disturbing variety–back and forth to one another.  We made a plan to meet over the summer months to help each other come up with a harp accompaniment to the other’s song.  This is going to be great fun.


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