9th Annual World Traditional Album Winner
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Genre: World Traditional
Interview with album producer, Ceri Rhys Matthews
ALBUM NAME: Blodeugerdd Song of the Flowers: An Anthology Of Welsh Music And Song (Various Artists)– Produced by Ceri Rhys Matthews
NAME OF LABEL: Smithsonian Folkways
HOMEBASE/COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Wales, UK
WHERE WAS ALBUM RECORDED? Wales
WHERE IS YOUR MUSIC AVAILABLE? Folkways.si.edu
WHICH GENRES BEST DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC? Traditional and Contemporary Welsh Folk Music
IS THERE A THEME TO THE ALBUM? Wales, a country as ancient as it is forward-looking, boasts a wealth of contemporary musicians who harvest the best of their past to craft an artful future. Blodeugerdd (“song of flowers” in the Welsh language) features a garland of intimate musical interpretations by leading keepers of Welsh music today. Each track is an act of remembering something personal and an illustration of how Welsh culture, in the words of producer Ceri Rhys Matthews, “has survived by quietude and tenacity.” It features 14 tracks over 60 minutes with a 44-page booklet of photos and bilingual notes.
WHAT UNUSUAL INSTRUMENTS OR TECHNIQUES DID YOU USE ON THIS ALBUM? Unusual instrument combinations include bagpipes & medieval fiddle duo, triple harp & Jazz trumpet duo. Unusual song /spoken word structure is exemplified by Christine Cooper’s setting of anonymous “unofficial, anti-establishment” 16th century poetic meter called ‘cywydd deuair fyrion’ with a forgotten eighteenth century fiddle tune. When performed live, Christine uses a loop station, but we double tracked this recording. It’s bilingual, too. All of the recorded items were either never before recorded or recorded by combinations of people who had never recorded together before. It’s essentially an anthology of un-heard songs and tunes from quiet and unexpected musicians who between them tell part of the story of the longest uninterrupted narrative on this Island. All tracks are recorded totally live – no edits – in a Tudor gate house – a portal to an unheard musical world.
DID FANS HELP FUND THIS PROJECT? Blodeugerdd has been produced with generous support from the Welsh Assembly Government.
DESCRIBE YOUR AUDIENCE: This music is usually heard in the kitchens, parlours and pub back rooms of a quiet corner of the British Isles.
WHAT MAKES YOUR FANS UNIQUE? They are quiet, unspoken and don’t know they are fans. They are invariably neighbours. They are the glue of the social structure that binds the music to the narrative of who they are.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO PLAY? The music struggles to find willing venues beyond the domestic. This is the brave statement made by Smithsonian-Folkways in recording and releasing the untold stories within this anthology.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE? The recording is a seed that has germinated and continues the narrative, but is paradoxically a footprint in wet cement of a moment in time. It has given confidence and a new context to the musicians on the anthology.
WHAT’S IN THE WORKS FOR 2010? Two self– funded projects 25 years in the making. One centers around making and teaching flutes and hornpipes to a small town in mid-Wales . The second is a series of weekend retreats for musicians of all backgrounds, genres, abilities and expectations to face their next step.
FINISH THIS SENTENCE: THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS… Paradoxical.
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS? The ability to continue.
WHAT’S ON YOUR IPOD THAT WOULD SURPRISE YOUR FANS? I would be surprised if I had fans. If I did, it may surprise my fans that I don’t have an iPod. I value silence and the sounds of the natural world – urban and rural – as a context for the structured beauty of music.
NAME SOME ARTISTS YOU ARE CHAMPIONING: The ones on the CD and the ones who didn’t make it because there was no time and no room. These include Gwilym Hardy, Angharad Jenkins and Penni Ediker.