Cerys Hafana is a composer and multi-instrumentalist who mangles, mutates, and transforms traditional music. She explores the creative possibilities and unique qualities of the triple harp, and is also interested in found sounds, archive materials and electronic processing.
Hafana uses her instrument as a percussive, jagged-toothed tool with which she excavates songs from the Welsh National Library’s archives.
Machynlleth-born Cerys Hafana is a master of the Welsh triple harp, an intimidating instrument of three rows of glistening strings. In the 2022 anthology Welsh (Plural), excerpted in the Guardian, she wrote that “it is viewed as a kind of historical artefact, hailing from a better time when everyone in Wales spoke Welsh”. Glorifying that past “is an erasure of all the things that have changed for the better”, she added, spit in every syllable.
Cerys Hafana Edyf Album artwork cover art
Hafana explores resonances from the past that connect with the modern day in a contemporary, creative way. On her second album, Edyf (meaning “thread”) she uses her harp as a percussive, jagged-toothed tool with which she excavates songs from the Welsh National Library’s archives. The instrument gives a buzzing pulse to Y Mor o Wydr (The Sea of Glass) – a strange hymn about doomsday that crackles with the heated present of climate change – and a raw beat to Hen Garol Haf, a Celtic summer carol that amplifies current interests in pre-Christian traditions. In Tragwyddoldeb (Eternity) and Cilgerran (named after a wooded village on the banks of the River Teifi in west Wales) it creates thickets of wonder in bright sounds. Hafana also sings movingly, her high voice like an indie-pop soprano shorn of its sweetness.
There are also moments of deep contemplation. On the glorious Bridoll, she interprets a psalm tune that she worked on in Bangor’s Capel Y Graig, a former nonconformist chapel converted into an experimental art space. Comed 1858, based on hymn writer Benjamin Jenkins’ reflections on light shooting through space, is also profoundly beautiful. “Every age in the interval of time / Reveals some greatness”, Hafana sings, articulating a communal ache for hope.
**** (4 Stars) The Guardian
Instrumentalist and composer from Staffordshire, UK.Melodies plucked out from the soles of muddy shoes.
Multi – Instrumental based songs in the English folk tradition