Lyres, Ap Huw, Glendalough, and Wales: BBC Documentary on the History of the Harp

Glendalough. Photo by Sue, 2010.

I confess that I am normally not very interested in documentaries featuring modern harpists doing their thing, but this BBC short film, about an hour in length, provides some interesting clips of early lyres unearthed in Iraq, bray harps, early Irish or Gaelic harps, the Robert Ap Huw MS, and a visit to Glendalough, the monastic community in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland that I had the pleasure of visiting in the summer of 2010.  I’ve added time stamp information below the video to help you find the bits that I found most interesting, but you may prefer to just watch the whole thing.  Special thanks to my friend Sam Tyler for sharing the video.

Time Stamps:

2:20:  Early harp discoveries in Ur, Iraq. Photos of lyres found in 1929 royal grave.  Lyre of Ur reconstruction.
3:50:  Visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to visit with Alemu Aga, who plays a buzzy, delicious sounding lyre as a sacred instrument to accompany spoken words.
7:25: Anglo-Saxon lyre and vocals by Bragod perform a snippet of the Gododdin.
8:30:  Bill Taylor and Robert Evans introduce the bray harp and the Robert Ap Huw MS
10:30:  more on Robert ap Huw MS, including images of the MS tablature.
12:30:  visit to Glendalough in Co. Wicklow, Ireland, with Paul Dooley playing a snippet of Kaniad y Gwynn Bibydd.
16:00:  Alan Stivell on the harp revival in Brittany.
19:20:  Andrew Lawrence-King, who teaches at Scoil na gCláirseach, plays triple harp.
23:00:  interview with Llio Rhydderch, traditional Welsh Triple Harp teacher and player, who discusses learning and teaching via the oral tradition.

Wishing you all a very happy New Year celebration,



Cunningham Wire Strung Harp for Sale

Cunningham harp

A close friend, Kathleen Staub, who is a well-known lever harp teacher in Portland, is offering her Cunningham 33 string modern wire strung harp for sale.  I have no financial interest in the sale, but am posting it for my friend.  Please take a look at her website for further information, and kindly contact her directly if you are interested in further information.


Winter Solstice Musings, 2012


The Trinity on Solstice day, 2012.

This has been a week of visiting friends, harping, sleep, walks outside on windy days, and of course, an opportunity to write and take stock of the year that has passed.

I am fortunate to be awash in music right now:  music that I want to sing, hope to play, and music that is moving through me all the time.  Something that has been slumbering has awoken, and I am the grateful beneficiary of the muses’ largesse.

A few summers ago I visited the Boyne river valley in Ireland, and walked around at Dowth, the lesser-known mound with a Winter Solstice alignment.  It’s within easy viewing distance of the more famous Newgrange.  Perhaps there will be recent photos added soon.

Settle down with some mulled cider and candlelight, and enjoy the following:

My friend and teacher, Simon Chadwick, plays a spare, beautiful Advent tune, Veni Emmanuel, from a 13th century French manuscript.

Vicente de la Camera Marino, who lives in the Canary Islands, recorded a piece entitled “Bid to Me,” by Lawes.  Here he is playing his handsome MacDonald clarsach.

A joyful solstice to you all, and a Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it.


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