The Welsh Triple Harp
It is the Triple Harp which lays claim to the prime place in the history of the harp in Wales. This harp has three rows of strings: the two outer rows are tuned to the diatonic scale and the semitones are in the central row This harp originated in Italy in the sixteenth century as a low headed instrument. Soon, towards the end of 1600s, it arrived in Wales where it developed a high head and was larger in size, Here it established itself as part of our tradition and became known as the Welsh Harp. This is the harp which has been safeguarded by our folk harpers and our thanks go out to them for ensuring its continuity to-day.
A particular skill and technique is required to reproduce a Baroque sound which reflects the true glory of the Triple Harp. This style and technique was to be found in the playing of Nansi Richards and is inherited by Llio Rhydderch. It is this art which creates the unique sound heard in her performances which recalls the ancient heritage of our nation.
Wales is the only one of the Celtic countries which is able to claim an unbroken tradition of harp playing going back many centuries. That tradition continues to-day. Through the centuries the art of playing the harp was transferred aurally from one generation to the next, from teacher to pupil. Llio Rhydderch is an inheritor of this tradition having been taught by Nansi Richards, Telynores Maldwyn. She is a direct descendant of the ancient harpers and within that lineage stand the names of some of the 6th Century's most famous Welsh harpers.
Anglesey, Llio Rhydderch's native county, also holds an important place in this unbroken tradition with its own line of harpers dating back through teacher and pupil to the mid fourteenth century, and through the Llannerch-y-Medd group of harpers.
In Llio Rhydderch this unique lineage (teacher to pupil) still lives on. She is central to its continuation as she passes on the ancient art to her pupils and to the next generation.
Inevitably, because it is a living tradition, the harp in Wales and its music has changed and developed adapting to the needs and circumstances of the times. Throughout the years the harp has been equally at home in the courts of the princes, where, according to the Laws of Hywel Dda in the tenth century it enjoyed a high status, as it has in the humble homes and inns where the able hands of the ordinary folk harpers ensured its appreciation and enjoyment.