Pen-Rhaw

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X:1 T:Penrhaw T:Spade’s Head, The M:C L:1/8 R:Air Q:"Moderato" O:Welsh B:Edward Jones - ”A choice collection of 51 Welsh airs” (1863, p. 23) N:Edward Jones (1752-1824) advertised himself as "harper to his late Majesty N:King George the Fourth, when Prince of Wales." Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:F F3G AGAF|B3A BABG|F3-G AGAB|c4 cBAG| F3G AGAF|B2 B>B BcdB|c3d cBAG|F2E2 F4:| |:f3g f_edc|B3-c dcBA|g3-a gfed|c3=B cdec| f3g f_edc|B2 B>c (B/c/d) z/B/|(c2 d)B A2-BG|F2 (E>F/2G/4) F4:|]



PEN-RHAW (The Spade/Shovel Head). Welsh, Air (whole time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. A traditional Welsh harp air. Gruffydd Ben Rhaw was the name of a Welsh bard who lived at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Robin Huw Bowen remarks that the piece has been a vehicle in the past for penillion, a type of singing verses to harp airs which demands that the singer start after the harp, render the song (of a different metre and phrase length) in counterpoint, and finish at the same time! Frank Kidson (Groves) explains:

Pennillion singing is generally a subject in musical competitions. The common method is this. A harper plays a well-known Welsh air; there are several tunes usually employed for the purposes, Pen Rhaw being one - in strict time, over and over again. Each of the company in turn adapts to the tune extemporary words in rhyme, which are answered with a burden of 'Fal lal la' by the rest between the lines. This impromptu poetry must fit the melody in time and tune, and the subject is almost always expected to be humorous or familiar.

Blind harper Edward Jones of Llangollen played this tune in 1828 when he won the prize of the Silver Harp at the Eisteddvod (the Bardic Congress) held at Denbigh. The melody has been called a 'corruption' of "John Come Kiss Me Now" a tune popular in England and Scotland in the 16th and 17th centuries; Kidson (Groves) notes the two have "considerable affinity."


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Edward Jones (Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards), 1784; p. 79. Edward Jones (A choice collection of 51 Welsh airs), 1863; p. 23.

Recorded sources : - Flying Fish FF70610, Robin Huw Bowen – “Telyn Berseiniol Fy Ngwlad/The Sweet Harp of My Land” (1996). Nansi Richards - "Rough Guide to the Music of Wales".




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