Curiosities of Music - online book

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were various, though the three-stringed one was the national instrument. One variety was made of leather, strung with wire, and is said to have been peculiarly harsh; another called isyywer was so small that it could be played on horseback; another was strung with hair. The order of the bards was hereditary to some extent. King Howel Dha issued edicts regarding them (fixing their rank) about 940 A. D., and in 1078 the whole order was reformed and full regulations made by Gryffith ap Conan. In spite of the persecutions to which they were subjected, the order was sus­tained for centuries, and Eisteddfods were held under royal commission down to the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
In Ireland minstrelsy has had a foothold in all times. There is a legend that about the year 365 B. C, there occurred in Ireland the first triumph of poetry and music. A young prince, driven from his throne by a usurper, was so moved by a song which his betrothed wrote and caused Craf-tine, a celebrated bard, to sing to him, that he resolved on hazarding a supreme effort to regain his crown, and succeeded in driving the usurper from his kingdom.
The Irish claim that they were the originators of the Welsh system of bards, but this statement seems to be founded rather on national pride than upon fact, for it is probable that the borrow­ing was upon the other side. But it is certain that the Irish have ever possessed musical taste and skill.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III