Most of the indigenous folk music of Ceredigion, has been either forgotten, or is sat gathering dust in libraries and on bookshelves. I want to change this, BUT I need your help to do so.
I have been researching and collecting this material and now have an album's-worth ready to record. By bringing to life the sonic topography of my local 'cynefin', my hope is to revive this part of Wales which is struggling to maintain its cultural heritage amidst the pressures of modernity.
So what does 'Cynefin' (kuh-neh-vin) mean?
'Cynefin' is an old Welsh word with no real direct translation into English. A close approximation might be 'habitat' or a place which is comfortable or familiar to you. I've taken this idea and applied on a musical level by undertaking a musical mapping project of Ceredigion, West Wales where I grew up.
I'm a musician, composer and social historian. Over the last 8 years I've been fortunate enough to work with musicians from all over the world and have become fascinated by the question of what ties people to place - and the function of culture and music in forming identity and sense of belonging. This journey has brought me full circle back to my Welsh roots.
Over the last few years I've turned my musical focus to my local area and have been researching, uncovering and gathering folk material from singers, historians, archives, libraries and enthused locals and arranging it into something fresh.
Here's what people have said about the music so far. You can listen below or visit the Cynefin site.
“Absolutely fantastic” – Frank Hennessy, BBC Celtic Heartbeat
“Where have you been all my life?! Utterly beautiful” – Adam Walton, BBC Radio Wales
"So, so beautiful. Shining new light on Wales’ dusty folk past”- Sam Lee
Why is this project important?
It's not just bees and turtle doves which are under threat from extinction. We are also living in an age of cultural obliteration. Globalisation and cultural homogenisation are rendering dialects, arts and traditions obsolete. Every two weeks we lose a language, and with it another unique way of seeing the world.
Welsh is real life living language (despite what J.R.Tolkien may have led you to believe). In my lifetime the Welsh speaking population of Ceredigion has dropped from 65% to 47% and this slide shows no sign of abating. The survival of languages and dialects is dependent on young people tending the fires of its traditions and bringing new ideas to the fore.
This isn't a twiddly trad folk album!
This album is a bold attempt to bring something unique alive from Wales' past and make it sing in the 21st century. Traditions only thrive if they can stay relevant and adapt to changing times. This album will root itself in the music, language and history of West Wales whilst drawing on contemporary instrumentation and influences to produce something fresh and original.
In short, I want to sound great. I want it to travel beyond the borders of Wales and Radio Cymru listeners. I want it to engage audiences who've never heard music in Welsh before. I want people to be moved and perhaps inspire them to connect with their own roots or local area.
How will the money be spent?
Recording an album professionally costs a lot. Here's a breakdown of how the money will be spent:
Musician's fees - £1.8k (£150 per musician per day)
Studio Recording - £2k (£200 per day + accommodation)
Travel - £500
Mixing - £1.7k
What if I don't speak Welsh?
The album will come with an translation interpretation of the material detailing the history and story of the songs. Or you can just listen and enjoy it anyway :)
What will I get out of it?
Apart from a nice big sense of satisfaction - depending on how much you give, there's a digital or CD copy of the album in it for you. Or perhaps you might settle for a postcard or poster map of Ceredigion (or Cardiganshire as it used to be known) which dates from 1612. The map is based on a topographical poem from the Poly-Olbion which you can read here. It's even got water nymphs and fancy mythological figures! The rights to this map have been given to me exclusively by Ceredigion Archives and it is not available anywhere else.
If you fancy splashing out a bit more, you could partake in the guided song and history walk of the Clettwr Valley. I am also offering Welsh Folk Song Workshops and Cynefin gigs - or you can just donate without having a gift. It's up to you.
Nodyn i siaradwyr Cymraeg:
Efallai ei fod yn rhyfedd weld ymgyrch sydd yn ceisio hyrwyddo'r iaith Gymraeg yn Saesneg. Yn anffodus, nid oes ar hyn o bryd opsiwn i redeg ymgyrchoedd torf ariannu ar unrhyw wefan trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg (ac rwyf wedi gofyn!). O achos hyn, a hefyd terfyn yn y nifer o eiriau gallwch ddefnyddio yn y disgrifiadau, mae'r wybodaeth yma wedi'u cyflwyno yn Saesneg.
O safbwynt positif, rwy'n obeithiol bydd cyflwyno gwybodaeth berthnasol y prosiect yn y modd yma yn codi ymwybyddiaeth am yr iaith Gymraeg a diwylliant Cymru tu hwnt i Gymru.
Gallwch ddarllen ragor am yr brosiect yn Gymraeg yma: