SSi Forum

Cornish Music


#1

The Welsh forum has a lovely thread of Welsh music videos and audio and I think us Cornish learners should have one too! I don’t know much Cornish music, besides Gwenno and Hanterhir, so I’m super keen to see more. Share your links here!

I’ll start us off with:


#2

There used to be a Soundcloud account full of Cornish language music, much of which was a bit meh, to be honest. I can’t find it now, but I did find this which is rather good and quite Welsh in feel:

I’m assuming that Ton = Ton and Garow = Garw.


#3

I don’t have links to post, but a comnent since we’re on this topic:
Gwenno opened for Suede in Milan last October.
To tell the truth I didn’t find out until recently. But the odd thing is that as a consequence, a few articles/reviews and interviews were published in Italian. All of which praise her for singing in such a charming, unknown, interesting language: Cornish!
Nobody knows/has realized/mentions her singing in Welsh!


#4

Terrific idea - I’m going to look forward to checking stuff out in here… :slight_smile:


#5

Meur ras! Thanks everyone for the comments! Here’s the aforementioned Hanterhir. I’m not really a fan of most of their music, but I like this one:


#6

Hi, not sure if any one has mentioned The Changing Room, they sing a few songs in Cornish, Gwrello Glaw (Let It Rain) is particularly lovely.


#7

I had somehow completely forgotten that song, even though it’s so lovely!
Here’s a link to a performance of it:


#8

Matthi Clarke (who also produces a weekly radio podcast and monthly video news programme in Cornish) has recorded great Cornish-language versions of Cousin Jack and Cornwall My Home — with lyrics included so we can sing along! :slight_smile:


#9

Meur ras, @Courtenay! Those are great!

Someone on Facebook shared a couple of songs by Dalla with me, who sound really cool.


#10

Brilliant! :grinning: I’ve sung Parra Hearn (it means “Curing Pilchards”) with a raucous group of fellow Cornish students on a pub crawl around Penzance, but hadn’t heard The Mermaid of Zennor. Thanks for those.

Now here are a couple of historic ones, including one that’s only recently been rediscovered! First, please all stand for the Cornish national anthem, Bro Goth Agan Tasow (“Land of Our Fathers”)…

Full lyrics and translation here.
(And yes, if you’re Welsh, you already know the tune. We nicked it. :grin: Respectfully, of course.)

This next one unfortunately I don’t have a video for, as I believe it’s never been recorded — it’s called Can Palores (“Song of the Chough”), apparently written by Cornish bard Dr Ralph Dunstan, probably in the 1920s or early '30s. The manuscript of it was discovered in the Morrab Library in Penzance just a couple of months ago and given its first modern performance earlier this month by Cornish choir Keur Heb Hanow! Here’s the story, with an image of the manuscript along with the words and translation: A musical discovery at the Morrab Library

The background to the song is the legend of King Arthur. According to the Cornish version of the tale, when Arthur was mortally wounded in his last battle, his spirit was transformed into the chough — a black bird with its legs and beak stained red from the blood that Arthur shed on the battlefield. Choughs were in decline at the time this song was written, and they disappeared from Cornwall’s cliffs altogether in the 1970s, but since 2001 they’ve been nesting there again and expanding their range. So when you see a chough in Cornwall, you know that King Arthur is still watching over his kingdom! :wink:

(More information on Cornish choughs from the RSPB and the National Trust.)

EDIT: I’ve just searched further and found a more extensive write-up about Can Palores, which includes the rest of the verses — it turns out it’s Dunstan’s setting of a song by Robert Morton Nance, the second Grand Bard of Cornwall, from the end of his play An Balores (“The Chough”). This website for traditional Cornish songs gives the full lyrics, the background story and a clearer transcription of the music! :grinning: Can Palores — Song of the Chough


#11

Here’s another one — an all-new, original song by the leader of a new Cornish male voice choir, Men Are Singing: An Maw Kernewek (The Cornish Lad)

(The link leads to an interview with songwriter and choirmaster Seamas Carey as well as a video of their performance in Cornish.)


#12

I genuinely got shivers listening to Bro Goth Agan Tasow. Lovely. And I think it’s OK, after all we let them nick the Oggy Oggy Oggy chant! :stuck_out_tongue:

My dad managed to get some nice photos of some choughs recently, he was telling me they’re really coming back, which is amazing.

Also the Men are Singing link is amazing. Not wanting to get too political here (bit of a rarity for me, ha), but I absolutely love the lyrics and really identify with “Cornwall inspires me, yet frustrates and embarrasses me in equal measures”. When both my homeland of Cornwall and my current home of Wales voted for Brexit, I felt like I didn’t have a place any more. Incredible to see that reflected in Cornish language music, if that makes sense.


#13

They’re not the only ones who nicked it!! Here’s how we cheer people on in my homeland…


#14

Here’s one that is slow enough and simple enough that I can already make out some of it! :slight_smile:


#15

Does anyone have the lyrics or can work them out for this? I can catch the chorus, but the verses are beyond me!


#16

Update on Can Palores (Song of the Chough) in my previous post above. Pol Hodge (one of the creators of SSiCornish!) has written a short article about the song on the Go Cornish website. You can read it in either Cornish or English by clicking the button beside the text.

Kap’n Pol’s Cornish Column: “Lyverva Morrep” (Morrab Library)

It includes Pol’s new lyrics to the tune of the original song, in which he celebrates the return of the chough to historic nesting places around the coast of Cornwall. In the original play from which the song comes, An Balores (The Chough) by Robert Morton Nance, the death of a chough is presented as a metaphor for the death of the Cornish language, so you can see the same symbolism in the new version — the chough is alive again in Cornwall and so is the language!

I like how Pol concludes the article:

Mes hemm yw arwodh a dhiskwedh bos Kernewek fest yn few. Ilow ha geryow ogas kansbledhen koth a vew arta. An kanow o kenys arta ha martesen gwell yw ages an kynsa prys.

Nyns yw marow Myghtern Arthur.

But this is a sign that ‘Kernewek’ (Cornish) is very much alive. Music and words almost a century old live again. These songs sung again and perhaps better than the first time.

King Arthur is not dead.

(Meanwhile, as an Aussie with Cornish ancestry, I was thrilled to see the gum trees (eucalyptus) front and centre in the photo of the Morrab Library, but that’s just me… :wink: )


#17

More Cornish sheet music! :grinning: Here’s an interview with Hilary Coleman, who runs a community choir, the Red River Singers, performing Cornish folk songs in both English and Cornish. At the end of the page there are PDFs of three of their songs with the lyrics and music. I’ve sung them before with Cornish language groups and they’re lots of fun!


#18

Sorry I haven’t posted for a while! Here’s another Cornish song I really enjoy.


#19

Now that Christmas is approaching, here’s the St Day Carol (“Now the holly bears a berry”) sung in Cornish by Keur Heb Hanow…