Indian Summer in Levoca
Dwr Taith/Water Journey
Taith or Water Journey, is a research and development project to look at
secular music of the 15th century, in particular the dance form and new
musical instruments of the time, and place it in both historical and
contemporary musical contexts, by initially undertaking a journey and
then working with musicians and a composer from Slovakia.
Inspired by the extraordinary discovery in 2003 of a medieval ship in
the mud of the river Usk in Newport when excavating the foundations of
the Riverfront Theatre, the project, supported by the Festivals in
Levoca, Presov and Kosice (City of European Culture in 2013) in Slovakia
and the Riverfront Arts Centre Newport Wales has many creative stimuli.
The ship dated to the mid 15th century and was a trader that
transported goods between Wales, England and Europe, and plied its trade
at a time of enormous exploration, discovery, opportunity and developing
diversity in culture and society. 'People's' music was increasingly
being heard, new instruments developed, and much movement of population
stimulated change and invention.
The crew would have met the peoples
of these countries and empires, and listened to the new guitar, the
tamburitza, bagpipes and drums on their difficult but lucrative trips.
Placing these instruments into contemporary contexts, one still sees the
balalaika (sister to the tamburitza) played in much of the Slav
countries today, the guitar is prodigious in all its modern forms
throughout the world, and drums and bagpipes are played throughout the
Celtic cultures in Europe.
Through this project I want to bring
this time of excitement and change to life by placing myself in the
position of one of these seamen. The journey at the core of this project
therefore is to follow an imaginary but possible route of the trading
ship which ended its days in Newport, South Wales, and experience the
cultural mix of Celtic, Islamic and Eastern flavours the mariners
themselves would have been exposed to in Wales, France, Iberia and the
By listening to the music and musicians, absorbing
their ideas and musical forms, melodies and rhythms, what unites and
what differentiates, and using the whole experience, I hope to construct
a time capsule of sounds with musicians and a composer from Slovakia,
working with guitar, old and new keyboard instruments, percussion and
bagpipes. The characteristics of the music will be diverse, the
instrumentation group unusual, but from this eclectic mix I hope will
come creativity and exploration of new musical ideas, which will combine
historical and contemporary sounds and styles.