Annotation:Morfa Rhuddlan

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X:1 T:Morfa Rhuddlan M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Air N:”A Welsh Air” Q:"Slow" B:James Aird – Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 5 B:(Glasgow, 1797, No. 43, p. 17) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Amin A2A2 (ce)|d2d2c2|B2 (Bc) (BA)|e2 E2 ^G2| A2 (AB) (ce)|d2 (fe) (dc)|{c}B2 A2 ^G2|^G2 A4:|| e2 (ef) (ge)|d2 (de) (fd)|c2c2B2|B2c2z2| e2 (ef) (gf/e/)|d2 (de) (fe/d/)|(cf) (ed)(cB)|{B}c4 d2| e2 (cd) (ec)|(dc)(Bc) (dB)|(cB) (Ac) (BA)|^G2 E2 z2| A2 (AB) (cd)|(de)(fe) (dc)|B2 A2 (B^G)|A4 z2||

MORFA RHUDDLAN. AKA - "Marsh of Rhuddlan (The)," "Marsh of Rhyddlan," "Merva Rhuddlan," "Morfa Rhyddlan," "Rhuddlan Marsh." Welsh, Air (3/4 time). A Minor (Aird) : G Minor (Howe, Jones). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. Edward Jones (1752-1824), of Henblas, Llandderfel, Meirion, the harpist to George IV as prince and king, in his Musical Relicks of the Welsh Bards (1784) explains:

Morfa Rhuddlan, or the Red Marsh, on the banks of the Clwyd in Flintshire, was the scene of many Battles of the Welsh with the Saxons. At the memorable conflict in 795, the Welsh were unsuccessful and their Monarch, Caradog slain. It is unknown whether this celebrated tune took its name from this or some later occasion … This plaintive style, so predominant in Welsh music, is well adapted to melancholy subjects. Our Music probably received a Pathetic tincture from our distresses under the oppression of the Saxons.

Sabine Baring-Gould further discusses the melody in A Book of North Wales (1903):

Between S. Asaph and Rhyl is Rhuddlan with its castle in ruins. Formerly the tide washed its walls. The marsh, Morfa Rhuddlan, was the scene of a great battle, fought against the Saxons in 796, in which the Welsh, under their King Carradog, were defeated with great slaughter, and the prisoners taken were all put to the sword. The beautiful melody "Morfa Rhuddlan" has been supposed to pertain to a lament composed on that occassion; but the character of the melody is not earlier than the seventeenth century, and it apparently owes its name to the verses adapted to it by Iean Glan Geirionydd, who lived a thousand years after the event of this battle.

The tune has no great antiquity prior to Jones, and "though marked largo, it is in fact a Welsh minuet made on a passamezzo harmonic formula...and has recognizable late baroque balance and contour"[1]. A version of "Morfa Rhuddlan" occurs in Frances Peacock's Fifty Favourite Scotch Airs published in 1762 under the title "An Old Welsh Tune," and John Parry's (1710-1782) "Aria XXIV" from his Ancient British Music (1742) is an earlier version of Jones piece[2]. William Jones of Llangadfan, born in 1726, stated that “'Morfa Rhuddlan' is a very pleasant Dance if all the party perform their parts well.”

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 5), Glasgow, 1797; No. 43, p. 17. Bingley (North Wales...delineated from two excursions, vol. 2), 1804; p. 6. Elias Howe (Musician’s Omnibus Nos. 6 & 7), Boston, 1880-1882; p. 620. Edward Jones (Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards), 1784; pp. 50-53. Edward Jones (A choice collection of 51 Welsh airs), 1863; p. 15. James Manson (Hamilton's Universal Tune Book vol. 1), 1844; p. 60. John Thomas (Y Caniedydd Cymreig/The Cambrian Minstrel), 1845; p. 23.

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  1. Joan Rimmer, "Edward Jones's Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards, 1784: A Re-Assessment", The Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 39 (Sept., 1986), pp. 83-84
  2. ibid. p. 83