Gwerzy

Gwerzy

Dee Armstrong and Colm Ó Snodaigh, Arranged by Clint Hagen
  • Spring 2016: Chaos and Order

The Celtic people were some of the earliest tribes to move across Europe. They were pushed westward by subsequent migrations of humans until their remaining numbers survived only on the western-most shores of the of European continent.

Descendants of the Celtic people continue to practice their musical traditions in Brittany (far western France) and in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Gatherings among musicians attracted to this genre of music help spawn collaborations and generate new musical compositions. The interaction among these musicians leads to inventive creations producing a fresh spin on ancient and traditional music. This, in turn, helps young musicians compose music that allows older forms to evolve into newer music without seeming derivative or trite.

Taken from an old Celtic name, a ‘Gwerz’ is a long, slow, repetitive ballade.  It is typically dirge-like in nature, and usually has a sad outcome. This number, Gwerzy, was composed by members of the Irish band, Kila. They named the piece after a Celtic French band from Brittany. Gwerzy’s fast, dance-like, uplifting tune flies like the wind. The composers of Gwerzy have taken an old ballade form and transformed it into a lively jig. Listen for occasional uneven meters that add joyful surprises to the music and keep the listener playfully off balance.