Trac Cymru’s charitable mission is to make certain that our national music heritage can survive and flourish in the years to come. We support our tradition bearers to help make sure that ancient songs are available for the future generations.

In one major project we worked with Arfon Gwilym, one of these cherished stewards of the old tunes of Wales, to ensure that much of his vast treasury of songs could become freely available online.

For many years this charismatic teacher, who has a repertoire of hundreds of songs available on the tip of his tongue, shared his encyclopaedic knowledge of songs at Trac Cymru’s intergenerational ‘folk school’ the Big Experiment/Arbrawf Mawr. Arfon has helped countless singers of all levels to learn not only traditional Welsh folk songs but also the more specialist cerdd dant and plygain traditions – the singers learned ‘by ear’, in an authentic style of traditional music education. 

Arfon was surprised to find that many of the songs he considered to be ‘folk standards’ were actually unfamiliar to the singers attending his classes, so Trac Cymru suggested creating of an online collection of recordings to make these precious songs available to many more people – using new technology to support a traditional way of learning. 

“Folk songs and tunes have always been passed on orally over the generations,” says Arfon, “and they should always be learnt by ear if at all possible. These are songs – almost all of them – that I heard before I ever saw them on paper. That’s why I probably imitate, almost unconsciously, a style of singing that’s impossible to convey on paper.”

This invaluable resource of 45 songs is available for free on Soundcloud and YouTube and can be easily accessed through the Trac Cymru website, where many of the videos also have accompanying transcriptions of the lyrics to assist with learning 👇

Welsh Folk Songs a Collection by Arfon Gwilym

With your help, many more beautiful old songs could be preserved for our future generations – please consider supporting Trac Cymru to continue developing an archive of resources for the legacy of Wales by making a donation today.

It was the 21st anniversary of Trac Cymru in 2021 but thanks to the coronavirus our plans to celebrate this milestone were put on hold. As we develop our exciting new programme for future years, please support us and share these stories with your friends and colleagues, and join us in posting your own happy memories about Welsh folk music on social media #TRAC21.

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