While some classical and triple harp players experiment with short nails, it must be said that to play the music of the manuscript properly requires a generous nail length.
References to harp playing using the nails frequently appear in medieval Welsh poetry. 1340-70) ""/’I learnt a cainc from paradise’, refers to performing a cywydd glorifying God with ten fingernails on the harp. 91 in the listings of This playing style was commonplace for harps of all sizes across Europe, strung with either wire or gut, prior to the development of the pedal harp in the 18th century.
Introduction The Robert ap Huw manuscript contains the earliest body of harp music from anywhere in Europe. 1623 could imply that the style of the music might be Jacobean, especially as its compiler was a harpist employed at the court of James I.
But it is certainly not like any contemporary art music from late 16th century England or Western Europe.
No chromatics are needed because a single-row diatonic harp was the original instrument used to play the music.
Time signatures are absent in the tablature, but the rhythm and tempo of the music is clearly implied by the physical limitations of the player’s technique in executing the musical gestures. Instruments Due to the relatively recent revival of historical harp playing, scholars have not insisted on hearing an ideal instrument play the music in the manuscript.
The manuscript itself has been the result of several hands.
Largely due to the monumental work done by Peter Crossley-Holland, we now have a foundation for attributing and dating the compositions.
He has pointed out that the music itself was composed from the mid-14th century through to the 16th century but remained in the performers’ repertoire into the early 17th century.
Indeed nail technique was used by Welsh triple harp players well into the 20th century.
The late played with her nails, as does her student Llio Rhydderch; few, if any other, players in Wales nowadays use nails.