Robert ap Huw's Harp Technigue WILLIAM TAYLOR We are mistaken if we assume that it is enough just to transcribe the notes of the Robert ap Huw manuscript. Music is not merely about playing a sequence of notes on the instrument of our choice. If playing the music in the manuscript was simply a matter of note production, then we might as well be content with hearing robots speaking poetry. Like spoken language, music is concerned with patterns of sound presented in contrasting groupings, shaped in phrases pleasing to the ear. In the classical world and throughout the Middle Ages, there was a technique for correct speech, known as rhetoric. As a discipline much discussed, it had its own vocabulary of figures or 'colours' of words, including repetition, retraction and word-play, which were used to great effect by its practitioners. Similarly, we must accept that music, as another means of communi- cation, also depends upon a skilful delivery, which serves to persuade the listener. The music in Robert ap Huw's manuscript is as delicate and subtle as poetry. We must take the time to learn the technique that he clearly gives us on page 35 of his manuscript, so that in performing his music, we might be able to persuade our modern audiences to hear a sound-world peculiar to medieval Wales, and completely divorced from anything that follows. Page 35, reproduced here as Figure 1 (p. 90), presents a thesaurus of musical formulas, entitled 'gogwyddor i ddysgu y prikiad' (the 'alphabet to learn the pricking'), which involves different ways of striking a single note, ways of moving between adjacent notes and ways of playing notes of various intervals. Modern pedal-harp tech- nique mainly concerns itself with the production of a full, rounded sound made by plucking the gut strings with the flesh of the finger- pads. In contrast, Robert ap Huw gives us seven different ways of playing a single note. He presents us with a finger-nail technique to be performed on a Welsh harp of his day, namely a low-tension