I would just like to thank you and Liesa for covering the Eisteddfodau so well. I have really enjoyed them. This year was my first at staying for the week and stewarding at the National. I ended up stewarding on the 12-16 year old llefau preliminary which I really enjoyed much more than I thought I would. I thought it was a really valuable experience to learn a piece by heart and to be able to interpret it. Also I didn’t understand much to start with but after all 30 children had performed I was almost word perfect! I then decided to go into the pavilion the next day to see if the judges top three where who I thought they would be (I was only half right) but then I stayed on and had the pleasure later of seeing Liesa perform what I think was the monologue on the llwyfan which I think she won. The whole week was great, made better by insights from the Stori Dwy Steddfod. Diolch.
Oh I’m so pleased! The whole Eisteddfod thing can be quite complicated if you’re not used to it with so much going on that you wouldn’t necessarily be aware of. Being a steward gives you a bit of an inside track too doesn’t it - did you notice the whole politics of everyone wanting to go last!!! So glad you enjoyed it, I know the Eisteddfod isn’t for everyone, but it’s such a big part of cultural life in Wales and can be enjoyed on so many levels and in so many ways.
Oh yes and I’m so glad you’d both mentioned it. We all sat waiting for at least the first 20-30 minutes for the first competitor. It was meant to finish at 6 and there were still waiting for people to turn up and the secretary was having to phone around. I really didn’t understand why they don’t have a cut off point for registering. And why are there children’s competitions at all at the National when there’s the Urdd?
They should be more strict with it really. Sometimes it’s because children are at other prelims, but more often than not it’s the whole wanting to go last thing!
There have always been comps for children at the National. I suppose it’s to encourage families to attend?
Yes I can see that. Can you explain Cerdd Dant a bit more? Is the harp tune already set and the competitors have to compose the counter-melody or are both melodies set in advance by the composer?
So, I did a daft thing… I left my laptop charger in Brynaman after recording the last Sgwrs, so mid-way through doing the translation the battery went… But - Amazon next day delivery means I have a new charger, so the Sgwrs will be up tomorrow! And breathe…!
Hmmm Cerdd Dant. Well, you have the ‘cainc’ which is usually a traditional tune that the harp plays, and then a piece of poetry is chosen to compliment the cainc. The person ‘setting’ the Cerdd Dant then takes the poem and composes another tune - the ‘alaw’ - that fits on top of the cainc, but there are all kinds of rules as to how it must sit. So the harpist and singer are performing two complimentary tunes at the same time. If that makes any sense!
Here’s Ryan Davies’ Cerdd Dant explanation!
So does whoever has set the cainc also compose the Alaw which the competitor sings? So all competitors sing the same alaw or does the competitor compose their own alaw so everyone sings a different version? I thought I had read somewhere that the alaw was improvised individually but I may have been wrong!
If they are set I don’t understand how this differs from anyone singing one tune to an accompaniment.
No. The Cainc is usually traditional and been around for years, but there are new ones being composed all the time too. The cainc and poem are chosen by the Eisteddfod Cerdd Dant committee, and then each setter composes the alaw for their competitor. So every person in the competition is singing a different alaw to the same cainc. Which is why, quite often, you’ll see little children waiting to compete sitting with their fingers in their ears so as not to be confused by what the other competitors are singing!
Each competitor has their own setter/alaw composer. That’s what makes it different to any other solo. You might get one setter setting for more than one competitor, but they’ll set differently for each one, depending on the person’s range etc.
In the past, when Cerdd Dant was a folk thing that people sang in pubs, people would improvise the alaw, because everyone would know the cainc and how to harmonise to it. That informal way of singing Cerdd Dant (or Canu Penillion as it’s also known - ‘singing verses’) has largely died out, so you now need a setter to provide the alaw so that it’s within the Cerdd Dant rules. People could do it instinctively in the past.
Thank you so much. That’s really helpful. The national Gwyl Cerdd Dant is being held here in 2020 (there are lots of fundraising concerts coming up) so I’ll need to understand it by then!
Excellent! I’ll probably see you there!
Another Sgwrs is up - 38. Vocab - art, blacksmithery, and being a woman working in a male environment!
I have a spare guest room if you want to stay, 4 miles from Llanfyllin. You’d be very welcome.
Oh bless you - that’s very kind of you. I’ll certainly remember that!
So the final ep of Stori Dwy Steddfod is up! And a new stand will start tomorrow called Deg y Dysgwyr, which is ten questions to different learners
Fantastic - llongyfarchiadau mawr!!
So, folks - reviews of Stori Dwy Steddfod? Every author WANTS TO HEAR WHAT YOU THOUGHT…
I have enjoyed the Story very much The idea of shorter instalments with an overarching story is great - mixing things up and introducing some variety and anticipation- along with the longer Sgwrs. - it works well.
I can now listen to these shorter ones and understand them - pretty much in their entirety - with perhaps the odd word that crops up that I scurry off to have a look at. I am absolutely delighted at that because that involves understanding both Beca and Leisa - whose regional accent and speed I used to find very tough (indeed ).
So I’m not sure how long the advanced content has been going- perhaps a year ?- and over that time I have have gone from understanding nearly nothing to nearly everything…testimony to the content.
…I worked hard - on top of your hard work - and now listen to Radio Cymru bod dydd - understanding very well in general (although occasionally not!) - and I’m absolutely delighted with that.
My two year anniversary is in October (not long now) and my target was to understand Radio Cymru (something which seemed foolish and impossible only a year ago)…
Thank you for the Advanced Content - on top the SSIW lessons - which got me there.