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[The Bardic Blog] Y Mabinogi – The Second Branch – Update

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I thought it was about time that I gave you all an update on the next album – Y Mabinogi – The Second Branch.

I wrote the spoken word section late last year and was looking for the perfect time to record it all when the Beast from the East arrived and snow fell across the country, including a very rare covering here in Sussex. The spoken word of the First Branch was recorded after 9pm each day, as the  microphone picked up the light aircraft flying across to Brighton having taken off from Shoreham airport. The road outside my house was also quieter after 9. But the Beast from the East was a gift to me, as the snow, although not very deep, kept people from driving along back roads that had yet to be gritted. Out street was silent during those days, so with snow all across the Isle of Albion, the spoken word section of the Second Branch was recorded.

If you are familiar with the Second Branch of Y Mabinogi you’ll know that this is a tragic tale of epic proportions. There really is no retribution in the story, it is a tragedy in true Shakespearian and, in truth, Game of Thrones style. Whilst I wrote and recorded the First Branch Cerri had made me a bronze pendant of Rhiannon that I wore in her honour and as guide. For the Second Branch she made be a pendant of two ravens, signifying Bran and Branwen. Over the past couple of months however I found the energy of that pendant, and of their story, completely overwhelming. In the end I had to take it off, and ask them to be a little more gentle with me, placing the pendant on my studio alter instead of wearing it.

Although the tale is a tragedy, it is also epic, so the next thing I did was write the orchestral intro music. It was one of the things that made the First Branch so powerful for me, and Bran and Branwen’s tale could have slipped into melancholy, but I let my hands drift across the keyboard until they found a theme tune that I hope will lift the tale to tell of the war, and the Cauldron of Rebirth. Just as with the First Branch, the Second Branch is a magical tale, with vast depth, subplots and twists. But as time has moved on, and I’ve moved deeper into the tale, I’ve realised that I’m now completely out of my comfort zone. If you listen to my music apart from a couple of songs, they are uplifting and generally positive. There are anthems that bring people together. No such places are there within the Second Branch. There is no place for an uplifting anthem here, but instead music and lyric that speak directly to the heart of loss and sorrow. So this little Gemini who loves to see the world through rose glasses is having to dig deep, and it’s not easy.

Which is good, and how it should be.

I will be stretched by this story, and by the time it is finished I think I may be wrung dry, and in need of a break. So the thought of leaving Branches Three and Four and having a break until I’ve recorded an album of Pagan songs is very inviting right now.

What a Journey this is turning out to be.

 

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