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326                    CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
Gyraldus Cambriensis (who wrote in the twelfth century) says of them : " The aptitude of this people for performing upon musical instruments is worthy of attention."
" They have in this respect, much more ability than any nation I have ever seen. The modula­tions are not with them slow and sad, like those of the instruments of Britain, to which we are accustomed, but the sounds, though rapid and precipitate, are yet sweet and soothing."* The harp was, as in Wales, the national instrument. The bards were a hereditary class, and their guild, as in Wales, had three divisions; the Filedha, who sang both about religious and martial sub­jects, and were also heralds to the nobility; Brait-heamhain, who chanted the laws; and the Seana-chxiidehe, who were the musical and poetical chroniclers and historians. Their influence and privileges were fully as great as those of their Welsh brethren, and they had many valuable possessions of land. Their skill was universally acknowledged up to their conquest by Henry EL, but from that epoch the profession began to decline, although noble families still made it a point of honor to keep private bards to sing to them of the deeds of the ancestors of their house.
The influence which these songs exerted in fomenting rebellion was such, that severe laws were promulgated against them in England, and
•Topog, Hibern.3C. 1.

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