Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | October 19, 2012

Bards & Music

The latest Druidcast podcast is just out, and as usual it’s a cracking one (do people still say ‘cracking’? Or should I say ‘wicked’?) As well as getting the first glimpse of Damh the Bard’s new album in a sample track which has a wonderful and rousing anthemic quality, we are also treated to Andy Letcher’s talk about the nature of bardcraft, which he gave at the Mount Haemus Day in Salisbury just recently.

Dr. Andy Letcher delivering his talk at the Mt Haemus Day Salisbury 2012

In it, Andy expresses his opinion that: “Bardism is the performance of poetry, music and song, and it reaches its culmination in the combination of all three. The Bardic art is to combine melody, narrative, rhythym, and lyric in such a skilled and crafted way that a truth can be expressed.” He goes on to say that he differs from more liberal interpretations of bardism as creativity in any sphere, to insist that “it’s all about performance”. I see what he means, but I prefer a broader interpretation. But see what you think once you’ve heard his talk. The link to Druidcast is here.

Until now the Mt Haemus scholars have been almost exclusively male, but not by any design. We’re determined to change this, and I’m happy to say that next year’s Mt.Haemus award goes to Dr.Karen Ralls. The title of Karen’s paper is:

Dr Karen Ralls

Music and the Otherworld: Sacred Places, Sacred Sounds
In it Karen will explain how Old Irish and Scottish Gaelic literature can offer us clues to the ways in which music and sound can enrich our spiritual practice. From the beautiful, enchanting music of the faery harp to the sacred singing of the choirs of angels, Celtic literature has many references to music and the Otherworld, and to the elements and the landscape. Karen will relate these references to the latest research in the fields of Consciousness studies, Neuroscience, and Anthropology to enrich our understanding of the relationship between music, consciousness, and place. Karen, a medieval historian, musicologist, and world religions scholar, obtained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh, followed by six years as Postdoctoral Fellow and Sr Lecturer (Univ. of Edinburgh) and Deputy Curator of the Rosslyn Chapel Museum art exhibition. Based in Oxford (UK), she is a musician (flute, wire-strung Celtic harp, tin whistle) whose published work includes the seminal Celtic academic study, Music and the Celtic Otherworld, The Templars and the Grail and The Quest for the Celtic Key.


Responses

  1. I read Karen’s work on music in the otherworld recently and can attest to its worth. Good choice!

  2. I began learning the folk harp at the same time that I joined OBOD (circa 1997) because I felt the two had to go together if I were ever to develop a healthy spirituality for myself. Since then, harp music has become a tool for helping me and some others with obtaining significant visions as well as healing and meditation for the listeners.

    Thanks, Philip for sharing this and giving me a new musicologist to Google and read about. 🙂

  3. Having read Karen’s book :Music and the Celtic Otherworld , which I very much enjoyed, I would love a link (if available) to the cited new paper.
    Thanks for the posting.

    • Hi Duncan – the paper won’t be submitted until Alban Hefin (Summer Solstice 2013) Karen is working on it now. But see here for more info on the whole project: http://www.druidry.org/events-projects/mount-haemus-award

      • Hi Philip,
        Thanks for the nifty link…I now have plenty of reading for the Winter months!


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