Gwenno, quarry raves and the punks of Penzance: inside the Cornish music explosion – The Guardian

January can be a bleak time of year here – cold, grey and drenched by the dreaded Cornish mizzle. But in the harbour town of Falmouth, a wet Sunday night in midwinter is no excuse not to party.

At the Cornish Bank, the town’s buzzy new music venue, the monthly Klub Nos Lowen is in full swing and the place is packed to capacity. Inside, it’s a sonic swirl of pipes, fiddle, clarinet, bouzouki and trombone. Cornish band Skillywidden are holding court on stage, while on the dancefloor people link hands and twirl around the room in a snaking, conga-like reel known as a serpent dance. Some are clearly old pros; others are evidently novices, tripping over their feet as they struggle to follow the steps. Not that it matters: everyone’s clearly having a blast.

I’m haunted by how much has been lost to landfill because people didn’t know its value

Nos Lowen means “happy night” in Cornish. Though rooted in Cornish folk dance, it’s a surprisingly recent invention: the brainchild of musicians Neil Davey and Hilary Coleman, veterans of local bands Sowena, Dalla and now Skillywidden. The idea, Coleman explains, was inspired by Breton Fest Noz (festival nights), which they came across while touring in the early 2000s. Their version is a kind of madcap Cornish ceilidh, combining old forms like the circle, couple, processional and serpent dance with strikingly modern takes on traditional tunes.

“Our raison d’etre has always been to raise awareness of Cornish music,” she says. “Most people think it’s just the Helston Furry, or Padstow May Day, or – heaven forbid – sea shanties. But there’s this rich, diverse body of Cornish songs out there that people don’t realise exist. We wanted to change that.”

After periodic one-offs in pubs and village halls, Klub Nos Lowen is now a monthly fixture at the Cornish Bank. “It’s one of our most popular nights by far,” says venue founder Rufus Maurice. “The best thing is that it doesn’t feel like a group of people pretending to do some traditional thing. It’s such a lovely, warm community event, and attracts different ages, genders and backgrounds. At the first one we did, 350 people turned up and everyone ended up dancing down the street. That’s when I knew we were on to something.”

Nos Lowen’s popularity is part of a growing resurgence of Cornish culture, from the revival of Kernewek, Cornwall’s native language, to the films of Bafta-winning Cornish director Mark Jenkin, the community art projects of Golden Tree or the crossover success of Cornish-speaking Welsh producer Gwenno. Tellingly, in the 2021 census, 99,754 people gave their nationality as Cornish, or Cornish and British – a 52% rise since 2011.

‘A living, dynamic thing’ … Klub Nos Lowen. Photograph: Danny North/The …….


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Google AI Tool Creates Music from Written Descriptions – VOA Learning English

This week, Google researchers published a paper describing results from an artificial intelligence (AI) tool built to create music.

The tool, called MusicLM, is not the first AI music tool to launch. But the examples Google provides demonstrate musical creative ability based on a limited set of descriptive words.

AI shows how complex computer systems have been trained to behave in human-like ways.

Tools like ChatGPT can quickly produce, or generate, written documents that compare well with the work by humans. ChatGPT and similar systems require powerful computers to operate complex machine-learning models. The San Francisco-based company OpenAI launched ChatGPT late…….


Bringing music to the masses… on a tram – BBC

French pianists, Hervé Billaut and Guillaume Coppola, brought a piano on to a tram in Nantes, as part of the opening of the annual La Folle Journée classical music festival.

They played to passengers all afternoon on Wednesday.

Mr Billaut said that they wanted to bring music to places you don’t expect it: “Perhaps someone, a child, a young person or a pensioner will have a musical shock.”