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ALAW - Alawon: Melodies 

ALAW - Alawon: Melodies 
Private Label ISBN: 97818385530747 

The superb Welsh band Alaw has made two albums thus far (Melodies and Dead Man’s Dance) and Thomas Hughes has transcribed the tunes and songs from both of these, along with most of the tunes performed by violinist Oliver Wilson-Dickson in his Welsh Folk Tune A Week YouTube series. The transcriptions are accurate and at pitch (so you can play along with either the album or YouTube) and there are some real crackers here.

Nicely printed, this is a fine production. But where is the information? It would be wonderful to know about the tunes and their sources. What makes them Welsh? One of the tunes here (played unfeasibly fast on their album) is Johnny’s Welcome Home - which I know as an Irish reel... In these days of no information on downloads, here would be the obvious place to include it - their website is certainly giving nothing away! There are also no indications as to tempo, so initially you wouldn’t know whether to play Sawdl Y Fuwch at the same speed as Welsh Rabbit. And unfortunately, the Tune A Week items aren’t in the same order as on YouTube, which are merely numbered, rather than given titles…aaarrgghh! Little things like this do make a difference.

But this remains a really fine collection which, along with the albums and YouTube items, is very highly recommended.

Paul Burgess


This review appeared in Issue 135 of The Living Tradition magazine