Searching for Welsh folk Songs

Collections / music - Posted 06-02-2018

How would you find a Welsh folk song? Many have been published but there are many more which are less well known. Meredydd Evans and Phyllis Kinney have made detailed studies of Welsh folk songs and tunes and their archive is now available at the National Library. The archive is being catalogued as part of the Welsh Musical Archive Programme. If you would like to come to the Library to see the archive, please contact Nia Mai Daniel on to book an introductory session or contact us on Twitter @musicNLW.

The archive of Merêd (Meredydd Evans 1919-2015) and his wife, the scholar and musician Phyllis Kinney contains over 150 boxes that can be grouped as :

  • Musical papers of Phyllis Kinney
  • Musical papers of Merêd
  • Merêd and Phyllis’s index cards on Welsh traditional music
  • Correspondence of Merêd
  • Merêd’s files on philosophy, literature, campaigns for the Welsh language and more.

We hope to develop a Welsh folk music database based on the Merêd and Phyllis index cards. To achieve this, the cards will be digitized and we will develop a way of making the information easily available online for performers and those who want to explore Welsh folk tunes and songs.

There are index cards for the different categories below

  • Folk songs : Over 1,000 index cards arranged by title A-Z
  • Tunes for ‘Carols’: Notes by Phyllis Kinney on the melody, the manuscript or source of the tune, and the music notation.
  • Words for ‘Carols’ : Notes by Merêd, mostly on the sources of Christmas carols.
  • Nursery rhymes : From the printed collections of O. M Edwards, Ceiriog and Eluned Bebb.
  • ‘Alawon fy Ngwlad’ The lays of my land (1896) : A book of over 500 tunes collected by Nicholas Bennett which is now available online at the Library’s website
  • Mari lwyd: Notes on the traditions of wassailing and seasonal festivities for Phyllis Kinney’s book ‘Welsh Traditional Music’ (2011)
  • J Lloyd Williams : Songs and Tunes from the archive of J Lloyd Williams at NLW who was a folk music collector.
  • Welsh Folk Song Society magazine : Statistics on song sources and tunes in the Magazine during the editorship of J Lloyd Williams.

The cards indicate the tune and words, differing versions, name of places associated with the tunes, and indicate the book or manuscript where they has been found. Many of these sources have been digitized by the Library including important manuscripts by John Jenkins (1770-1829): Melus-seiniau CymruPer Seiniau Cymru and Melus geingciau Deheubarth Cymru and a full list can be found on our page on ‘Welsh Traditional Music‘.

Nia Mai Daniel

Programme Manager, The Welsh Music Archive



See also previous blog on 25-09-2017 ‘Launching the Welsh Music Archive’

Launching the Welsh Music Archive

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