Rhys a Meinir


Rhys a Meinir

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-It was cold that night, my friend.

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-The winter wind

-roared through the trees...

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-..and the rain

-gripped the stream in its fists.

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-I was a fool heading for home.

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-It was late, and I was ashen...

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-..as grey as every place.

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-Rhys and Meinir

-is a legend about two lovers.

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-I heard it first

-as a child from my father...

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-..here at Nant Gwrtheyrn.

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-It's a simple five-minute tale...

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-..about what happened to them

-when they decided to get married.

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-It's a heartbreaking tale...

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-..akin to the plot

-of an opera or a ballet.

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-It's an epic tale.

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-I decided to compose

-a classical piece...

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-..to fulfil my dream

-of working with an orchestra.

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-Cian Ciaran's unique

-and exceptional piece...

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-..Rhys A Meinir.

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-I had a collection of records...

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-..that included loads

-of field recordings.

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-I decided to go to Nant

-and record some of my own.

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-Once you stand there

-in the open air...

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-..you ingest

-the spirit of the place.

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-You hear what's around you,

-nature and wildlife.

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-I realized how quiet Nant is.

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-It feels as if not much has changed

-over the centuries.

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-Maybe it helped me to go back

-to Rhys and Meinir's time.

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-Scene 1: Rhys meets Meinir

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-Then, sunlight.

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-Sunlight shining from somewhere.

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-The waves died down so suddenly.

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-Then she came

-along the wall of fragile foam...

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-..appearing through the light.

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-She stood still.

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-Stock still,

-as the raging wind eased...

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-..with the grey mist between two

-like light in the gloom.

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-Then,

-in the biting teeth of January...

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-..I heard the bells of a wedding

-feast through the empty night.

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-She opened unto me like the sea.

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-The offer I got from Cian to retell

-the noted tale of Rhys and Meinir...

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-..was a chance to portray anew

-an old, old story.

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-It's a truly powerful legend...

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-..in that it appeals

-to our most primitive instincts.

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-Love and loss.

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-The story of Rhys and Meinir

-is so sad.

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-Why did you want

-to interpret the story musically?

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-Wow.

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-Well, it's a story that has been

-part of my life since I was a child.

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-The story is a simple one.

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-It's about a man called Rhys

-and his love towards Meinir.

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-They fall in love

-and decide to get married.

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-It was a tradition at the time

-for the bride to hide.

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-The ushers

-would then look for her...

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-..to bring her back to the church

-or chapel to get married.

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-Unfortunately,

-they couldn't find Meinir.

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-Rhys couldn't understand

-where she had gone.

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-In time, he loses his mind.

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-Years later,

-on a stormy night, he goes out.

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-A bolt of lightning

-splits a tree trunk.

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-Meinir's skeleton,

-in her wedding dress...

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-..falls out of the hollow trunk.

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-He dies instantly of shock

-or a heart attack.

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-My relationship with Nant started

-when I was about three, probably.

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-My family

-always went for a walk to Nant.

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-If you've never been there,

-it's a striking place.

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-It leaves a lasting impression.

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-I used to have dreams...

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-..about the steepest slope

-that you could imagine.

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-It had seeped

-into my subconscious...

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-..the walk down

-and back up from Nant.

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-My father had a dream...

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-..of establishing

-a language centre there.

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-That's been a part of his life

-and my family's life...

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-..for as long as I can remember.

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-Even today,

-Nant Gwrtheyrn is remote.

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-On a fine day, it's perfect.

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-But when the storm

-bares its teeth...

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-..it can be a rough

-and unpleasant place.

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-That duality is in Nant itself.

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-Maybe Nant Gwrtheyrn

-is the ideal setting for the legend.

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-I like the idea

-of traditional legends...

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-..being handed down

-from one generation to the next...

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-..in either oral

-or musical or poetic form.

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-This is our way of introducing

-the legend to the next generation.

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-.

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-Scene 2: The wedding

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-That night, my friend, I was whole.

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-She was there, virginal...

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-..and the wine cleansed

-every man of his weaknesses.

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-Yes, it was a night

-as long as the ages.

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-An era was about to start

-to the sound of the dance...

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-..and we were two.

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-Meinir was one with myself.

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-From the banquet,

-in the embers of morning, she ran.

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-The hem of her dress

-was light like a silver web...

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-..as she sought to hide.

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-I announced that I was coming,

-still counting down.

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-The seconds felt like bullets.

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-When I do play or write something...

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-..I have to play it over and over

-to get it right to listen back to.

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-Or I just sound like Les Dawson!

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-The idea in my head

-is totally clear.

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-But I don't find it easy

-to transfer it down to the hands.

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-But the good thing

-about writing at the piano...

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-..when it clicks and I play it

-more than once with no mistakes...

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-..I know, that's it, that's the one.

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-I'll record that

-into the computer...

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-..and start to adapt it, play with

-the structures and add more tracks.

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-Cellos, synths, whatever.

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-When making a demo,

-there's a record of all the work.

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-Over two or three years,

-I'll have enough to make an album.

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-That's when I started to learn

-about the classical world.

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-How it works,

-who do I need to talk to.

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-I left school at 16.

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-It was an exciting period.

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-In the late 1980s,

-acid house started...

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-..and the associated parties.

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-I sort of stumbled into it.

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-I started getting into synths

-and drum machines and so on.

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-Creating music with machines.

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-I tried to get into college

-in Manchester to study Music...

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-..but I didn't get a place.

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-So, I did a film course in Newport.

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-I left after a year

-to join the Super Furry Animals.

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-Cian was very young, late teens,

-when he joined the Super Furries.

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-I know that the Furries

-are all about teamwork.

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-Everyone's role is crucial.

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-But Cian's influence

-can be clearly heard in their sound.

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-No Furries set could end

-without his wild and wacky techno.

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-When we recorded Hey Venus

-with the Furries...

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-..we got the chance to go

-to a studio in the south of France.

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-Miraval.

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-This would have been 2006 or 2007.

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-It was an experience,

-life in the south of France.

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-It was just as you'd imagined

-it would be.

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-We spent three weeks

-recording there.

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-I was writing a piece

-at the piano...

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-..when the idea for Rhys A Meinir

-came into my head.

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-Whatever I played

-reminded me of the legend.

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-The idea turned into a piece.

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-It's a little tune I wrote yesterday

-called Lick My Love Pump.

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-I haven't had the idea

-of a legend or a story...

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-..combining with music

-like that before.

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-I thought

-it might go on the album...

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-..but we

-already had about 20 songs.

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-The Furries had stopped for a time

-in 2009...

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-..so I resurrected

-the Rhys A Meinir idea.

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-I was first introduced

-to Cian in 2012.

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-He came to me for the orchestration.

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-He sent me sketches

-of various things he'd been writing.

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-I loved the idea

-of what he was trying to do.

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-This Welsh folk tale set to music.

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-Fantastic. Sign me up.

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-Whenever a composer

-writes a piece of music...

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-..it first exists

-as a sort of sketch.

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-It's down to me

-to help turn that...

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-..into something

-that musicians can play.

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-I can hand it to the conductor

-to bring it to life.

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-The style of the piece

-is programmatic.

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-There's a fine tradition

-in orchestral writing...

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-..of pieces that are essentially

-following a story.

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-So, we have motifs,

-motifs for the two lovers..

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-We hear these during the piece...

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-..and they change

-as the two protagonists change.

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-And then he changes

-to a different chord.

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-Then this wonderful tune starts

-which we'll hear later.

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-Meinir!

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-There's a link

-between this legend...

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-..and other Nant Gwrtheyrn legends.

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-One about Gwrtheyrn,

-another about Elis Bach.

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-There's also a link

-with the legend about three monks.

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-Were his enemies

-given a lease to his land?

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-Centuries ago, monks wanted to

-establish a place of worship there.

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-But local people

-were vehemently opposed to this.

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-They threw stones and protested

-against this kind of institution.

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-May Gwrtheyrn

-be afflicted by a curse.

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-The monks were disappointed...

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-..and they cursed the valley.

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-..bones and marrow

-from angry revenge.

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-Of course, there was talk

-that Rhys and Meinir were cousins.

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-One of the curses

-was that no-one who was related...

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-..would neither be allowed

-nor able to marry...

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-..in Nant Gwrtheyrn.

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-Meinir!

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-Then she vanished.

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-Yes.

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-Like that, my friend.

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-Like a moth into the gloom.

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-Sinking into the lair

-of the dark night.

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-She came, then disappeared.

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-.

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-Subtitles

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-Until the mid-19th century,

-there were three farms in Nant.

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-Ty Uchaf, Ty Canol and Ty Hen.

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-But in the 1860s,

-the quarries began to open.

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-Granite quarries.

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-The local granite

-is extremely hard, apparently.

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-This granite was needed...

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-..for pavements and streets

-in distant cities.

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-They operated for several decades.

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-About 200 people lived here

-when they were in their heyday.

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-It was self-sufficient,

-more or less.

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-Most of the cargo was transported

-by sea.

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-Then, with the advent

-of the car and tarmac...

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-..demand for the granite dropped.

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-The quarries declined,

-the numbers employed there fell.

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-One by one, the families left.

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-I want to introduce Cian Ciaran.

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-Cian, do you want to come

-and say a bit about the story?

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-Give him some love!

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-Where shall I start?

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-It's a love story,

-a tragic love story.

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-Boy meets girl.

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-I was worried

-at the rehearsal in January...

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-..about presenting the work

-to the musicians for the first time.

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-How they'd react to it.

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-How they'd react to me.

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-You start to doubt yourself.

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-Why you're here,

-what you're doing in this room.

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-Let's go from the beginning then.

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-Cian, how was that

-in terms of sound and balance?

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-I was just questioning the woodwind.

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-Was it just the woodwinds...

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-..or any time we got

-those chord shapes in the orchestra?

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-The third note in the triple

-has an accent on that.

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-So, if they slur it?

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-So, if they slur it?

-

-A little bit of shape as well.

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-Closer?

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-No, not for me, sorry.

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-I don't know what to suggest

-how to fix it.

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-Sometimes, it feels like sixteenths.

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-I realized quite soon

-that it wasn't right.

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-It didn't sound as I wanted it.

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-If I didn't say something now,

-it wouldn't change.

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-I had to clearly define

-what I wanted from the performance.

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-There's no crescendo over it,

-each bar is like...

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-To think that no-one

-had seen or heard it before...

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-..it was still a good rendition.

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-At the time, reaching that point

-felt a bit of a miracle in itself.

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-Cool.

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-As a location, Nant Gwrtheyrn has

-a definite place in Welsh folklore.

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-It won a corner in Welsh history

-by simply being so inaccessible.

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-It was linked to the outside world

-solely by one narrow winding road...

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-..that was also extremely steep.

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-When the quarries and social habits

-reached a turning point...

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-..Nant Gwrtheyrn

-ceased to exist as a village.

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-I remember coming here in the 1970s.

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-Tourists

-would sometimes stop and ask...

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-.."Could you tell us

-where the ghost village is, please?"

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-After that night, my friend,

-the winters were bitter.

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-The rain like spears on a cloak.

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-The memories nauseating.

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-Like a nightmare, a ritual,

-I went back into the mist...

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-..my conscience a gimlet..

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-..yet knowing that she wasn't,

-that she wouldn't come.

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-In one respect,

-the englynion tell the story.

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-They reiterate the familiar legend.

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-But if you scratch the surface,

-you might find deeper meaning.

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-The theme of affection...

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-..and subsequent loss...

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-..is common

-to so many aspects of our lives.

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-It doesn't just happen with love.

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-It's possibly relevant

-to this patch of land.

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-This patch of land that we love...

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-..but which is rapidly disappearing

-in front of our eyes.

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-The language which is so dear to us

-losing ground slowly.

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-I moved to a medical practice

-in Llanaelhaearn, a solo practice.

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-So, when I wanted time

-out of the house...

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-..I couldn't roam too far.

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-Coming down to Nant

-was an escape from all that.

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-We brought the children with us,

-of course, more often than not.

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-Cian was one of our four children.

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-We told them about the place

-and about the legends.

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-They were also well aware

-that we wanted to buy it...

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-..to create something of note,

-as regards jobs and the language.

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-Finally, a new era seems set

-to start in Nant Gwrtheyrn.

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-Should this idea be realized...

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-..it could become

-a quiet and creative haven...

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-..to resist the drop in the number

-of Welsh speakers in Wales.

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-We bought it in 1978.

0:31:050:31:07

-I established a trust...

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-..and the rest,

-as they say, is history.

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-We started to raise funds in earnest

-to begin developing the site.

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-Could I speak to Mr Elwyn Jones?

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-Nant Gwrtheyrn Language Centre.

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-Our aims were to create jobs

-and to promote the Welsh language.

0:31:270:31:31

-I think we've created

-a centre of excellence...

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-..where both those initial aims

-have been achieved.

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-Scene 3: The search

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-After that night, my friend,

-the winters were bitter.

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-The rain like spears on a cloak.

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-The memories nauseating.

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-Like a nightmare, a ritual,

-I went back into the mist...

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-..my conscience a gimlet...

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-..yet knowing that she wasn't,

-that she wouldn't come.

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-.

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-Subtitles

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-Subtitles

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-This is the wine

-that the Pope drinks, apparently.

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-If it's good enough for him...

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-Does it feel strange,

-being alone in a dressing room?

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-I hadn't thought about it.

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-Do you feel lonely?

0:34:290:34:30

-Do you feel lonely?

-

-Yes.

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-Cian has wanted to do this

-for about 20 years.

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-You were here back in January.

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-I'm not good at speaking publicly,

-to be honest.

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-Stumbling over my words and so on.

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-But there we are.

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-In under half an hour...

0:34:530:34:55

-..the BBC National Orchestra

-of Wales will perform Rhys A Meinir.

0:34:550:35:00

-Anything to share with the nation?

0:35:000:35:01

-Anything to share with the nation?

-

-Just that I'm excited.

0:35:010:35:03

-The doors have opened,

-and the audience is coming in.

0:35:040:35:07

-It's all a bit more real, I take it.

0:35:070:35:10

-Sounds from behind us.

0:35:100:35:12

-Going back to January...

0:35:120:35:14

-..how do you feel tonight

-compared to then?

0:35:140:35:18

-It's hard to put into words.

0:35:180:35:20

-January was a rehearsal,

-tonight is a performance.

0:35:200:35:24

-There's no room for errors.

0:35:250:35:28

-Break a leg!

0:35:280:35:29

-Break a leg!

-

-Let's do it.

0:35:290:35:30

-For anyone to write a piece of music

-for an orchestra and choir...

0:39:430:39:47

-..that lasts an hour

-is an astonishing achievement.

0:39:470:39:51

-I'm fairly experienced

-at writing music now.

0:39:510:39:54

-Even for me, that would be daunting.

0:39:550:39:57

-I really loved

-seeing the audience come in.

0:39:590:40:03

-Clearly, people who'd been big fans

-of the Super Furry Animals...

0:40:030:40:08

-..were really excited to see

-this development in Cian's writing.

0:40:080:40:13

-It was a revelation for them...

0:40:130:40:16

-..to hear what the orchestral

-sound world was like.

0:40:160:40:19

-Legends are an integral part...

0:40:410:40:43

-..of our awareness

-of who and what we are as a nation.

0:40:440:40:47

-A legend

-should be more than history.

0:40:480:40:50

-It should be alive

-on the nation's tongues.

0:40:510:40:54

-It should be just as relevant

-to the future as it is to the past.

0:40:540:40:58

-When we recite a legend...

0:40:590:41:01

-..we should be drawing on the past

-in order to nourish the future.

0:41:010:41:06

-Scene 4: Summary

0:41:060:41:11

-It was cold that night, my friend.

0:41:220:41:24

-The winter wind

-roared through the trees...

0:41:260:41:29

-..and the rain

-gripped the stream in its fists.

0:41:290:41:32

-I was a fool heading for home.

0:41:340:41:37

-It was late, and I was ashen...

0:41:390:41:42

-..as grey as every place.

0:41:430:41:45

-Then, sunlight.

0:41:470:41:50

-Sunlight shining from somewhere.

0:41:530:41:55

-The waves died down so suddenly.

0:41:570:41:59

-Then she came

-along the wall of fragile foam...

0:42:020:42:05

-..appearing through the light.

0:42:050:42:07

-She stood still.

0:42:110:42:12

-Stock still,

-as the raging wind eased...

0:42:140:42:19

-..with the grey mist between two

-like light in the gloom.

0:42:190:42:23

-Then,

-in the biting teeth of January...

0:42:260:42:30

-..I heard the bells

-of a wedding feast...

0:42:300:42:33

-..through the empty night.

0:42:330:42:35

-She opened unto me like the sea.

0:42:350:42:40

-That night, my friend, I was whole.

0:42:460:42:49

-She was there, virginal...

0:42:500:42:52

-..and the wine cleansed

-every man of his weaknesses.

0:42:530:42:56

-Yes, it was a night

-as long as the ages.

0:42:580:43:03

-An era was about to start

-to the sound of the dance...

0:43:050:43:08

-..and we were two.

0:43:090:43:10

-Meinir was one with myself.

0:43:110:43:13

-From the banquet,

-in the embers of morning, she ran.

0:43:180:43:23

-The hem of her dress

-was light like a silver web...

0:43:250:43:28

-..as she sought to hide.

0:43:280:43:30

-I announced that I was coming,

-still counting down.

0:43:320:43:36

-The seconds felt like bullets.

0:43:370:43:40

-Then she vanished.

0:43:430:43:44

-Yes.

0:43:450:43:46

-Like that, my friend.

0:43:480:43:50

-Like a moth into the gloom.

0:43:520:43:54

-Sinking into the lair

-of the dark night.

0:43:560:43:59

-She came, then disappeared.

0:43:590:44:04

-After that night, my friend,

-the winters were bitter.

0:44:070:44:13

-The rain like spears on a cloak.

0:44:130:44:16

-The memories nauseating.

0:44:170:44:19

-Like a nightmare, a ritual,

-I went back into the mist...

0:44:210:44:26

-..my conscience a gimlet..

0:44:260:44:29

-..yet knowing that she wasn't,

-that she wouldn't come.

0:44:300:44:36

-One night, as the storm

-gathered in the stream...

0:44:440:44:49

-..I returned.

0:44:490:44:50

-I heard the thunder

-among the oaks...

0:44:520:44:56

-..then, alone, I saw her in exile.

0:44:560:45:01

-In the light of the bolt,

-I saw her, I saw her.

0:45:020:45:07

-The hollow tree

-cradling her like a leaf...

0:45:080:45:11

-..her white dress

-encased in bark...

0:45:110:45:14

-..and her empty skull gaping.

0:45:150:45:18

-Through the rain,

-I could hear a banquet.

0:45:270:45:30

-I swore.

0:45:310:45:32

-She was ever more...

0:45:350:45:37

-..there for me...

0:45:430:45:45

-..like the sea itself.

0:45:490:45:51

-S4C Subtitles by Testun Cyf.

0:48:090:48:12

-.

0:48:120:48:13

Ffilm ddogfen gerddorol sy'n ffrwyth dychymyg y cerddor Cian Ciarán, yn seiliedig ar chwedl Rhys a Meinir. Musical documentary based on the legend of the tragic love story, Rhys and Meinir.


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