2020 Roundup! Happy New Year from the CNMA team

Nadelik lowen ha blydhen nowydh da // merry Christmas and happy new year // season’s greetings // happy holidays from all at the CNMA!

We’re now in that strange part of the year where the days often seem to merge slightly – but we’re wishing all our readers and writers a wonderful festive season, despite things being different for many of us, and that everyone is keeping safe and well as we head into the new year.

The CNMA – our year

Despite the restrictions we’ve all faced, it’s given the CNMA an opportunity to work hard putting together this website! Between the team and our wonderful contributors, the site now features over 700 articles about Cornish music, musicians, festivals, traditions, which include over:

  • 400 tunes
  • 300 recordings and audio files
  • 1000 images

And – the work is ongoing! If you have an article you’d like to contribute, please make an account here and contribute to this project!

Winter Music in Cornwall

However you celebrate it, the winter season is often a period of reflection and contemplation. A lot of us would agree that 2020 has felt like a very long and difficult year. The cancellation or postponement of many of our usual festivals and celebrations have made it feel even longer, without the waypoints and markers signalling the passage of time. In Cornwall as in many cultures, many communities mark the darkest part of the year with traditions that bring light and merriment into our lives – often with a musical accompaniment!

The Christian celebration of Christmas brings with it all kinds of musical festivities. During Advent and the 12 days of Christmas, carols are often heard, in a variety of forms! Brass and silver bands playing carols and other music during late night shopping are a staple of our towns and villages – alas much reduced this year. Groups of people touring their town, village or parish through the night to sing Christmas carols underneath people’s windows. This little booklet, which was published in the 19th century, contains over a hundred carol texts and extracts – so anyone with a penny spare instantly had access to a song library in their pockets!

Wassailing customs also often involve groups of singers and musicians wandering from house to house, with the visitors inviting householders to take a drink from the wassail bowl in exchange for a gift. In orchard visiting wassail traditions, the group might visit an orchard and singing to the trees in order that they remain healthy and produce a good crop in the coming year.

During the 12 days of Christmas, there’s also the mummers plays, which are folk plays performed by community members. Geese dancing, guise dancing and guising traditions also abound, with groups of musicians costumed and disguised in various cunning and amusing ways!

The Rubber Band, Wassailing at Cothele Permission of Rosie Fierek

In Penzance, the modern and well loved tradition of Montol is a community festival featuring singing and dancing, with many participants dressing up in mock formal costume and processing through the town to the accompaniment of music.

Finally, there’s the celebrations of the upcoming Twelfth Night, which round off the season’s festivities. Degol Stul has been a staple of recent years, and is based on Breton style of Fest Nos featuring informal, easy to learn dances.

Blydhen Nowydh Da / Happy New Year!

Although many of us haven’t been able to play, sing, or dance as much as we’d like true to say that 2020 has taught many of us music-lovers to seek out – and invent! – new ways of making and sharing music.

So as we head into 2021, while keeping everyone safe and well, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for new ways and more opportunities to meet, share, collect and record. In the meantime, we hope that the CNMA proves a useful resource for anyone looking to find out more about Cornish music in all its forms.

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