Damh the Bard | Y Mabinogi: The First Branch

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Spoken Word: With Music Folk: Celtic Folk Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Y Mabinogi: The First Branch

by Damh the Bard

This is a retelling of the First Branch of Y Mabinogi, the first of four albums that will tell The Four Branches. Let me take you on a journey, a magical journey of the Otherworld, of ancient Gods, of demon claws, of the Fearie Folk, and Pagan Lore.
Genre: Spoken Word: With Music
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Prologue
5:23 album only
2. The Hunt
4:15 album only
3. Who Is This Coming?
4:32 album only
4. A Deal with the Otherworld
7:20 album only
5. Annwn
6:23 album only
6. Battle at the Ford
13:18 album only
7. Gorsedd Arberth
2:07 album only
8. These Hollow Hills
4:03 album only
9. The Lady on Horseback
10:24 album only
10. A Wedding
6:28 album only
11. Another Wedding
6:00 album only
12. Wedding Dance
2:19 album only
13. A Birth and Accusation
6:05 album only
14. Rhiannon
5:54 album only
15. The Monster Claw
7:50 album only
16. Mother and the Mabon
3:41 album only
17. Epilogue
2:52 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Damh the Bard – is a modern-day Bard whose spirituality and love of folk tradition is expressed through his music, storytelling and poetry. Drawing on the Bardic tradition, his albums are both entertaining and educational, speaking directly to the heart.

With nine outstanding albums, and singing and speaking engagements all over the world, Damh has become one of the most popular contemporary pagan musicians – a musical storyteller who works within the world of myth: where the Faerie really do dance on Midsummer’s Eve, where the trees talk, and the Hollow Hills take you into the realms of Annwn, where the Goddess rides her horse, guiding you to magic, and the Horned God of old calls to you from the shadows of the Greenwood.



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Tracy Glomski

Y Mabinogi: The First Branch by Damh the Bard is a surpassingly beautiful interpretation of the first part of a four-part work of literature from medieval Wales.

The script for this recording remains quite faithful to both the plot and the spirit of the surviving manuscripts. Yet Damh has also hit upon a brilliant alteration that imbues the stories with much greater warmth and intimacy. He has shifted the original third-person narrative to a first-person telling in the voice of Pryderi, the central character of the tales. This one simple change has the immediate effect of transporting the listener more directly and deeply into the mysterious, magical events that surround and permeate Pryderi's life.

The original Mabinogi stories are admittedly rather opaque in places. Damh addresses this by incorporating just the right amount of extra commentary and color, not too much and not too little, into Pryderi's accounts of the adventures that befall his family. At appropriate moments in the tales, Damh weaves in songs and instrumental music of his own. There are so many ways that this approach could have gone horribly awry, but it doesn't. The overall result is wholly graceful, intriguing, and seamless. Damh's genuine love for this material shines through in every haunting word, regardless of whether it's being spoken or sung.

Damh also judiciously sneaks in a few intentional references to other Welsh literary works. In track five, for example, a little nod is given to King Arthur's ship Prydwen. This boat is not actually mentioned in the original text of the Mabinogi; it comes instead from a famous medieval Welsh poem, "The Spoils of Annwn." Listeners who are already well-educated in Celtic lore will likely get a kick out of these surprise inclusions, because they serve as reminders of the broader context in which the original Mabinogi was compiled. Still, it's not at all necessary to have that background knowledge to appreciate the recording. One of the great accomplishments of Y Mabinogi is that it has as much to offer to the listener who is hearing these stories for the very first time, as to those listeners who have been studying the Mabinogi for many years.

I purchased Y Mabinogi: The First Branch as a digital download, and I now wish that I'd splashed out for the physical CDs instead. The cover art is lovely, and it'd be nice to have any liner notes that possibly accompany this work. It makes me deeply happy that Damh is planning three additional installments in this series, with the aim of covering all four parts of the Mabinogi in their entirety. But even if that were not the case, Y Mabinogi: The First Branch is an exceptional production that is capable of standing alone as a masterwork in its own right.