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Traditional music & instruments

Harpist performing at the National Eisteddfod

The Harp (or telyn in Welsh) is regarded as our national instrument, with the triple harp being typically Welsh. The Welsh harp is a more delicate instrument than the Irish harp, with the strings that were made from hair and later animal guts.
There is a particularly Welsh style of playing the harp. It involves putting the harp on the left shoulder and using the left hand to play the higher strings. The right hand plays the lower strings.

In 2000, HRH the Prince of Wales revived an ancient position in his household by appointing an official harpist. The earliest known Royal harpist was Robert ap Huw in the 15th Century. Prince Charles reinstated the position both to foster and encourage young musical talent in Wales. His first Royal Harpist was Catrin Finch who is now thrilling audiences all over the world. The post is currently held by Anne Denholm, who studied at the Royal Welsh College’s Junior Conservatoire.

The Pibgorn is a simple reed instrument made from a wooden pipe and the horns of a bull.

The Crwth is one of our oldest instruments. It is a form of stringed lyre which is played with a bow and which has a range of just one octave.

These are often played alongside pipes (pibau), fiddles and penny or tin whistles which are also popular in Welsh traditional music.

For more information about the music and dance traditions of Wales - both within Wales and beyond visit trac, Wales's Folk Development organisation.