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OpenTalks - Wales: Music Nation

Updated Wednesday, 22nd February 2023

From folk to rock, music has always been at the root of Welsh culture and community. In this OpenTalk, DJ and presenter Huw Stephens discusses Wales’ musical history and culture with OU academics.

Find out more about The Open University’s music courses 

Wales: Music Nation was an OU / BBC Cymru Wales co-production presented by Huw Stephens that aired in October 2022. In this OpenTalk, Huw, producer Ian Michael Jones and the OU academics who worked on the programme discuss Wales’ legacy as the land of song and reflect on their highlights from the programme.

This event took place on Wednesday, 18 January, 2023 as part of the OpenTalks series of events run by The Open University in Wales. Read more about the OU experts who took part below.

Dr Martin Clarke

Dr Martin V. Clarke

Head of Discipline (Music), Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
The Open University

Martin Clarke's primary research interests lie in the relationships between music, theology and religious practice, and the history of music in Wales. His work on music, theology and religion has been principally focused on music and religious practice in Britain since the eighteenth century, and in the Methodist movement more widely. 

Dr Helen Barlow

Dr Helen Barlow

Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
The Open University

Dr Helen Barlow researches into the social and cultural history of music in Britain and particularly Wales in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and into music iconography. She is most at home with an interdisciplinary approach, and finds that her background in literature and art history offers different perspectives on music history.

Dr Helen Barlow

Professor Trevor Herbert

Emeritus Professor in Music, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
The Open University

Trevor Herbert's research runs from the middle ages to the modern period and includes jazz and vernacular music. His books include The British Brass Band: A Musical and Social History (2000), The Trombone (2006), and Music and the British Military in the Long Nineteenth Century (2013, with Helen Barlow); and he is the joint editor of both the Cambridge Companion to Brass Instruments (1997) and the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Brass Instruments (2018), he is also lead editor of the Cambridge History of Welsh Music (2022).

Available now

A History of Welsh Music

Cambridge University Press
Edited by Trevor Herbert, Martin V. Clarke and Helen Barlow

From early medieval bards to the bands of the 'Cool Cymru' era, this book looks at Welsh musical practices and traditions, the forces that have influenced and directed them, and the ways in which the idea of Wales as a 'musical nation' has been formed and embedded in popular consciousness in Wales and beyond. Beginning with early medieval descriptions of musical life in Wales, the book provides both an overarching study of Welsh music history and detailed consideration of the ideas, beliefs, practices and institutions that shaped it.

Learn more with OpenLearn

OpenTalks logo / logo Sgwrs Agored.

OpenTalks is a series of events run by The Open University in Wales. OpenTalks work to engage the public with The OU’s research and aims to make academics’ work inspiring and accessible to communities in Wales. This supports institutional aims to make education open to all and supports wider OU work to build an informed, engaged and prosperous Wales.

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