Cynefin - The Forgotten Folk Songs Of West Wales

by Owen Shiers in Capel Dewi, Wales, United Kingdom

We did it
On 28th October 2018 we successfully raised £7,907 with 328 supporters in 28 days

Help safeguard, release and record an album of rare and forgotten folk songs from Ceredigion, West Wales.

by Owen Shiers in Capel Dewi, Wales, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

Thank You - Diolch! For helping reach the initial target!

There's still 24 hours or so left to pledge and I've added a NEW REWARD. If you thought the Poly-Olbion map was cool, well I have asked Ceredigion storyteller and illustrator Peter Stevenson if he will make a song map of Ceredigion which will feature stories of songs from the album (cool eh?)

Any contributions over the target will:

- Allow us to produce a bigger, more beautiful album booklet packed with more info and pictures.
- Pay for some PR to help raise more awareness for the project

- Cover some of the running costs of the Crowdfunder not covered by the original target (approx £700)

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.

About Me

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.

Diolch yn fawr (thank you very much) for much for your support, don't forget to stay in touch via Facebook and Twitter.


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:

Cynefin is supported by /Cefnogir Cynefin gan PRS Foundation's The Open Fund & The Arts Council of Wales


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£5 or more

14 of 250 claimed

Cynefin Postcard

A handwritten thank you card featuring the exclusive mythical Poly-Olbion map of West Wales from 1612 (see text on left for more info).

£10 or more

Cynefin Digital Album Download

A digital download of the Cynefin album (includes a digital copy of the sleeve notes)

£10 or more

7 of 50 claimed

*NEW* Ceredigion Song Map

A beautiful song map of Ceredigion featuring tales and stories from the songs on the album - drawn by the very talented Peter Stevenson.

£15 or more

77 of 500 claimed

Cynefin Album CD

A CD of the finished Cynefin album complete with lovely pull out lyrics and story/translations of the songs.

£20 or more

68 of 100 claimed

Cynefin CD, Download & Postcard

A CD and digital copy of the Cynefin album, plus a signed thank you postcard featuring the exclusive 1612 Poly-Olbion map of West Wales.

£30 or more

14 of 30 claimed

Cynefin CD, Download, Postcard & Thank You

CD and digital copies of the Cynefin album, a signed exclusive Poly-Olbion postcard PLUS a personal thank you in the liner notes of the CD version of the album to show how grateful I am for your support.

£50 or more

2 of 20 claimed

Cynefin Album, Thank You & Song-Map Poster

CD and digital copies of the Cynefin album, a personal CD liner note thank you PLUS a poster of Peter Stevenson's song-map of Ceredigion

£100 or more

3 of 20 claimed

Guided song & history walk of the Clettwr Valley

The full £50 package of CD and poster PLUS a guided song and history group walk down the Clettwr Valley (near Llandysul). Date to be arranged.

£300 or more

0 of 3 claimed

Welsh Folk Song Workshop

I will come to your house, community or social group and spend an evening teaching you some fun Welsh folk songs - no Welsh necessary! (price does not include travel costs outside of Ceredigion)

£400 or more

0 of 3 claimed

Cynefin Gig

I'll come to your house, community or venue and play a full set of the songs from the Cynefin album (plus a few more...and some stories to boot).

£50 or more

20 of 20 claimed

Cynefin Album, Thank You & Poly-Olbion Poster

CD and digital copies of the Cynefin album, a personal CD liner note thank you PLUS a full colour poster of the mythical Poly-Olbion 1612 map. This poster is exclusive is not available anywhere else!

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