Y Mabinogi – Pushing the Boundaries of those Comfort Zones

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll already know that my current recording project is quite different from anything I’ve attempted before. It is a spoken word, musical, and dramatic presentation of the First Branch of the Mabinogion. This has been something I’ve wanted to do for many years, and it just feels like the time is right. There are already a lot of versions of the Mabinogion out there – from accurate translations, to more inaccurate ones. From dramatic retellings, to absolute fantasy retellings. I’ve loved reading and listening to all of them. So why another? It’s no secret, I’m utterly in love with these tales and the characters that people the lands and the places. But they are far more to me than just characters. Over the years I have met many of them in ritual, journeying, and in dreams. Some have spent time as my inner guides, and some have already been visited within the lyrics of my songs. The Mabinogion has been such a gift to me, that I wanted to add my own voice to the history of these tales.

At first I thought I would write songs to tell the stories, and I would have all four branches on one album. My Bardic buddy Arthur Hinds laughed at this and wished me luck. He was right. My first plan would be impossible, and would only scratch the tiniest surface of what each branch demanded. To do the tales justice I needed to change my approach and ideas.

So last year me and Cerri went for a week’s break in Wales, to the land in which these tales take place. During that time I realised that I needed to actually tell the stories within the recordings. So I opened to the Teller of Tales and during that week I wrote the spoken word section of the project. I recorded it over this past weekend. The spoken word section  alone timed in at 58 minutes, and when me and Cerri listened back, it became apparent that I had spoken too quickly, and I would have to re-record the entire thing.

So the spoken parts alone will be over an hour.

It’s obvious that even this first branch will be a double CD once the music and songs have been added.

I’ve done a few spoken word pieces before, but nothing to this scale. It’s pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone into areas I’ve yet to explore. My aim is, when you press play, you are immediately drawn into the world of the Mabinogi. That you are taken on a journey, and when Pwyll steps through the gateway into Annwn, you are taken with him. To see the sights there, to witness the Realm of the Grey Folk, and then to return and walk to the top of Gorsedd Arbeth, and see the Lady on Horseback.

Now that the recording has started I’m realising what a huge task, and responsibility, this is.

And that’s only made me more determined.

By |2017-08-03T10:22:48+00:00February 28th, 2017|Categories: Mabinogion, Y Mabinogi|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |18 Comments


  1. Vivian Tanis February 28, 2017 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    I guess this means I’ll have to read it again. What you do consider the best version of it?

    • Damh the Bard February 28, 2017 at 3:23 pm - Reply

      Sionad Davis’ translation. Definitely.

      • Vivian Tanis March 1, 2017 at 2:54 pm - Reply

        Thank you, I have learned so much from your music and podcasts, I am truly grateful for your guidance. My favorite story is the one where Pwyll chases Rhiannon on horseback. He finally asks her to stop after several tries and she tells him he should have just ask her to stop in the first place.

  2. Karen February 28, 2017 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Oh my Gods, I am so excited for this project!!! I will wait patiently until completion while you can give it everything it needs and deserves, but I am jumping at the bit to hear it! Thanks for your passion in this Damh – I already know that this one will be my favourite version! (Any chance of a little teaser?? 🙂 )

  3. Rita Bryant February 28, 2017 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Go for it Damh. This will be a wonderful gift for all of us.

  4. Rachael Gillies February 28, 2017 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    I can’t wait for this. I’ll admit I don’t know the tales aswell as I’d like so I get to know the stories and listen to your beautiful voice at the same time. In the past I’ve searched for simplified children’s versions of the Mabinonion for my sons but there’s nothing like that out there

  5. Char Lewis February 28, 2017 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    This is going to be epic! I can hardly wait!

    It occurred to me that this should be made into a huge, very well made tv series, like Vikings, or Game of Thrones!
    Blessed be

    • Damh the Bard March 1, 2017 at 9:19 am - Reply

      If it was well made, that would be brilliant.

  6. Jeannie Adey February 28, 2017 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Oh love the sound of that! Well, stop talking and get on with it we are waiting with bated breath, I will be saving my pennies to get a copy as soon as it is done. Bright blessings

  7. Laura Robinson February 28, 2017 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    I’m just discovering these tales through my studies with OBOD and I just know that you will do something truly magical with them Damh. It shines out in your songs and it will shine out here too. I have no doubt. Here’s to determination!

  8. Gary Colcombe February 28, 2017 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    It sounds like it’s all coming along famously, Dave. We can’t wait for the first tale!

  9. Trothwy March 1, 2017 at 4:13 am - Reply

    Sounds like you’re serving the stories in the truest sense. Looking forward to it!

  10. Linda Davis March 1, 2017 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    So looking forward to hearing this! Take all the time you need Damh. It’s worth doing well. Blessings x

  11. Sonia Smith March 1, 2017 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    This is going to be Magic!

  12. marcella dillon March 1, 2017 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    That sounds fantastic I look forward to the release.

  13. Chris Flores-Madison March 3, 2017 at 3:35 am - Reply

    I can’t wait to hear it, thanks for doing this Damh!

  14. terri March 11, 2017 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    i’m excited for this!! it sounds totally magical!!! 🙂

  15. Debbie from Michigan March 26, 2017 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    I am so looking forward to these Dave. You are a fabulous story teller, when you did the workshop and told of Bran at Michigan Pagan Fest I knew you would be the perfect person to retell these important stories. You did draw us all in and made us feel we were there. Can’t wait for the release of all the branches.

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