In my previous article, I wrote that the spoken word for Y Mabinogi, The Third Branch had been recorded. Some of you got very excited about that and asked me through PM when the album would be released, so maybe there was a little confusion about how far along the process I’d actually progressed.
I wrote the spoken word story back in June, told once more from the perspective of Pryderi. As I read through the words I could see where the songs of the album might go, but things are never completely clear until the story has been recorded, and I listen back to it in its entirety. As I said before there were a number of false starts that were stopped through outside interference beyond my control, but then I went into the studio after 9pm, and suddenly it was like the Spirit of Pryderi said, “Yes, this is the time”.
The full story is in that previous article.
I left it a day or so before I listened back. I made myself a nice cuppa, went into the studio, shut the door, and pressed play. I have to tell you, my friends, that hearing it spoken is so different from writing it, or reading it on the page. Suddenly the tale came alive to me in a way I’d never felt before, and part of that was the message about exactly where the songs and incidental music would go. I also became very aware that the orchestral intro music that had opened the previous two Branches simply wouldn’t work with this Branch. The story opens at the exact point where the Second Branch ends – with seven weary survivors of the war, having just buried Bran’s head beneath the White Mount in London, making their way back to Arberth. They are broken, exhausted. Yet one of those seven survivors is the Primary Chief Bard of the Island of the Mighty, Taliesin. In the translations of the tale he is barely mentioned at all, but he is there, travelling with the group.
What kind of conversations might these travellers have had?
How might the tales and songs from the honey-tongued lips of Taliesin been a source of strength and comfort to those who had lost so much in the war?
What Bardic spells did he weave to heal the wounds, both inner and bodily, of those heroes?
And so begins the first song. The song I’m about to write.
As Taliesin finally bids his farewell to the other travellers so he begins to sing, and as he rides away so the land, the birds, the animals and trees begin to join in with his song. His green cloak, embroidered with hare, salmon, bird and grain flowing behind him, as he steps into the forest, out of sight, yet the song continues, sung by the land itself.
At the moment the provisional title is The Stones and Bones of Albion, but we shall see if the Awen agrees…