Bill Taylor is a specialist in the performance of ancient harp music
from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and is one of very few players investigating these repertoires
on lyres, psalteries, medieval gut-strung harps, wire-strung clarsachs and Renaissance harps with
buzzing bray pins. He is one of the foremost interpreters of music in the Robert ap Huw manuscript,
containing the earliest harp music from Europe, and he has made several recordings of this repertoire using
historical harps. Bill performs and teaches in the Scottish Highlands and works with Ardival
Harps in Strathpeffer. He performs and records as a soloist and with several ensembles, including
Graindelavoix, Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, Quadrivium and Sinfonye. As a teacher he is much
in demand, and is frequently invited to lead workshops in the UK, Europe and the USA, including
regular appearances at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival.
The Voice of Experience:
New Thoughts on Playing Music from the Robert ap Huw MS
The Robert ap Huw manuscript contains the oldest harp music
from anywhere in Europe, composed by Welsh harpers in the 14th & 15th centuries.
There are over thirty pieces within it, which represent but a fragment of a vast
lost repertoire of medieval Welsh harp music.
Preserved in a manuscript copied from a lost original source, the music is notated
in a unique tablature. Thirty years ago, in close collaboration with Robert Evans,
Bill started piecing together practical information about playing this repertoire.
Since then, he has made two solo recordings of pieces from the manuscript and he
continues to question how to achieve an authentic performance of this strange and
beautiful music. This presentation chronicles his experience as he increased his
own repertoire of pieces within the collection, from testing various hypotheses
about tunings and interpreting the tablature to accommodating anomalies and achieving
a deeper understanding of the rhythm, tempi and expression.