The Robert ap Huw manuscript (B. M. Addl. MS 14905): Introduction

The `Robert ap Huw Manuscript' is currently in the British Museum, and is designated B. M. Additional Ms. 14905. Part of it appears to have been written by Lewis Morris (d. 1742), part by Robert ap Huw, and part was allegedly copied out of the book of Wiliam Penllyn, a sixteenth century Welsh harper.

The object of this web site is to present a facsimile of the original manuscript; interpreting the manuscript is quite difficult, and I encourage my readers to consult the sources mentioned in the bibliography. I especially recommend two online articles:

Taylor, William, Sources for Fingernail Technique. Second edition 2014, minor update 2017. Free download from the Wire Branch of the Clarsach Society.

Dooley, Paul. The Interpretation of the (ap Huw) Tablature.

If you'd like to hear some of the music from the manuscript, I recommend the following CD:

Taylor, William. Two Worlds of the Welsh Harp (CD). Dorian Recordings, 1999 (Catalog # 90260). Includes Gosteg Dafyyd Athro, Y ddigan y droell, Kaniad y gwynn bibydd, Kaniad ystafell, Kaniad bach ar y gogower, and Kaingk Dafydd Broffwyd. The other material on the CD comes from the volumes of Edward Jones' Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards.

David Parish-Whittaker gives the following advice for those seeking a transcription of the music and notes on technique:

For the clearest translation, I'd go with "Robert ap Huw's Harp Technique" by William Taylor in Welsh Music History Vol 3 (1999)- Robert ap Huw studies, available from University of Wales press. Bill's techniques closely match Ann Heymann's conclusions as well (some rhythmic differences), and Ann hasn't published her stuff.

Lots of good articles in that book besides Bill's. The article on tuning by Bob Evans is particularly useful.

Also of interest is Paul Whittaker's (no relation) 1974 paper, the catchily named "British Museum, Additional MS 14905; An Interpetation and Re-Examination of the Music and Text" which you could probably get by calling the music department at University of Wales, Bangor. He has some pretty accurate transcriptions, as well for those of you who don't play harp and are put off by tablature.

Complete citations for these articles are all in the bibliography.

Return to the Robert ap Huw manuscript homepage.

Greg Lindahl / Gregory Blount of Isenfir