Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fairies and Music

Fairies and Music


     In those rare cases where it is not dancing which holds the victim of Fairies in its fatal fascination, the seducer is music. There is a class of stories still common in Wales, in which is preserved a wondrously beautiful survival of the primitive mythology. In the vast middle ground between our own commonplace times and the pre-historic ages we encounter more than once the lovely legend of the Birds of Rhiannon, which sang so sweetly that the warrior knights stood listening entranced for eighty years.
     The harp is played by Welsh fairies to an extent unknown in those parts of the world where the harp is less popular among the people. When any instrument is distinctly heard in fairy cymmoedd it is usually the harp. Sometimes it is a fiddle, but then on close examination it will be discovered that it is a captured mortal who is playing it; the Fairies prefer the harp. They play the bugle on specially grand occasions, and there is a case or two on record where the drone of the bagpipes was heard; but it is not doubted that the player was some stray fairy from Scotland or elsewhere over the border. On the top of Craig-y-Ddinas thousands of white fairies dance to the music of many harps. In the dingle called Cwm Pergwm, in the Vale of Neath, the Tylwyth Teg make music behind the waterfall, and when they go off over the mountains the sounds of their harps are heard dying away as they recede. The story which presents the Cambrian equivalent of the 
Magic Flute substitutes a harp for the (to Welshmen) less familiar instrument. As told to me this story runs somewhat thus: A company of fairies which frequented Cader Idris were in the habit of going about from cottage to cottage in that part of Wales, in pursuit of information concerning the degree of benevolence possessed by the cottagers. Those who gave these fairies an ungracious welcome were subject to bad luck during the rest of their lives, but those who were good to the little folk became the recipients of their favour