minstrel: welsh scales

Pat Yarrow yarrowp at mscd.edu
Tue Apr 10 07:09:14 PDT 2001


Hello.  I'd be very interested in locating this article.  This is the
periodical issued by Oxford University Press, I take it?  Unfortunately, our
campus library's collection goes back only to 1969.  Any chance of a
photocopy?

There have been so many different interpretations of the key names given in
ap Huw.  I don't believe that anyone has the definitive answer to the
system, but Professor Crossley-Holland certainly is one of the foremost
names in the field.  If I recall correctly, he was one of the presenters at
the 1995 ap Huw Symposium.  I wonder if his views changed over time.

Thank you for drawing the list's attention to this.

FWITW, I do agree that the Ionian mode was most likely in use in Wales.  I
base this partly on my own researches in ap Huw and partly on the prevalence
of that mode in English vocal music from about the 14th century on.

Best wishes for the coming addition to your family!

Vivien

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-minstrel at rt.com [mailto:owner-minstrel at rt.com]On Behalf Of
Christina van Tets
Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2001 4:38 AM
To: minstrel at rt.com
Subject: minstrel: welsh scales


Hello the List!

Madog Hir wrote (ages ago - my apologies for my lateness - baby due in 8
weeks is occupying my mind rather at present)

>I've heard it asserted that Ionian mode music (the "modern" major scale)
>probably existed in Wales "since before recorded history" -- songs cited
>as proof are Londonderry Air and Men of Harlech. Does anyone have any
>information on this (for or against)?
>

On finally finding my copy of Crossley-Holland's 'Welsh Homophonic Music in
the Middle Ages' (Music and Letters vol 23 - 1942 - pp 135-162) I read:

'...C major, called Isgywair in Welsh, meaning "low key".  This was one of
the "five standard and warranted keys" of old Welsh music mentioned in an
ancient book not now extant called "Ceidwadigaeth Cardd Dant" (the
"Preservation of String Music", within three provinces of Wales) quoted in
Peniarth MSS. 62 and 147*.  This book says that the musical science was
confirmed in Ireland by Mwrchan at a place called Glyn Achlach**.  Other
keys are found amongst the [ap Huw] pieces, such as the "Key of the Change
of String", or B flat, in the song which is so named, "C[aniad] tro tant".

* For printed version of original see T. Gwyn Jones, "Cerdd Dant", in
"Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies". Vol 1, part 2 May 1922, pp.
139-156

**The tradition about Glyn Achlach remains unsubtantiated by Irish history.
The Ap Huw MS (p. 104) mentions a piece called "kwlwm ymryson fflam
achlach".'  - pp. 139-140

There are 2 more pages on scales, then similar detail on the 24 standard
harmonic and rhythmic measures used, probably for guided improvisation.

Hope this helps, and sorry again for its lateness!

Cairistiona
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