Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Music of Wales

 Early British popular music
 This article is part of the 
Music of the United Kingdom series.
 English folk
 Irish folk
 Scottish folk
 Welsh folk music
 Cornish and Manx folk
 1950s and 60s

Wales is a part of the United Kingdom, but has had a long history as a culturally distinct Celtic country. Its music is thus related to the Celtic music of Ireland and Scotland. Welsh folk music has distinctive instrumentation and song types, and is often played at twmpathau (singular: twmpath), or communal dances, and gwyl werin, a form of music festival. Unlike its Celtic neighbors, Welsh folk musicians of the latter half of the 20th century have had to largely reconstruct the country's traditions, which had been moribund for some time, as well as compete with imported and indigenous rock and pop trends. The label Fflach Tradd has become especially influential, releasing albums by some of Wales' biggest-selling acts.

Since 1176, Welsh bards and musicians have participated in musical contests called eisteddfod.

Some Welsh performers have mixed traditional influences, especially the language, into imported genres, especially John Ac Alun, a Welsh language-country singer who is perhaps the best-known performer in Welsh. Since the 16th century, however, Welsh culture degenerated and its traditions were denigrated, especially after the rise of Nonconformist religion in the 18th century.

In the 1860s, however, a revival of sorts began, with the formation of the National Eisteddfod Society, followed by the foundation of London-area Welsh Societies and the publication of Nicholas Bennett's Alwaon Fy Nghwlad, a compilation of traditional tunes, in the 1890s.

By the late 1970s, Wales, like many of its neighbors, had seen the beginning of a a roots revival that picked up energy in the 1980s with Robin Huw Bowen and other musicians achieving great commercial and critical success. Later into the 1990s, a new wave of bands including Fernhill, Bob Delyn A'r Ebyllion, Moniars, Carreg Lafar, Jac y Do and Gwerinos. A contemporary singer-songwriter traditional also arose, led by Dafydd Iwan in the 1960s, inspired by other similar performers like Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan. This movement soon became closely associated with Welsh nationalism.