HISTORY OF CARDIFF'S MUSIC SCENE
THE CITY OF CASTLES
Cardiff is recognized as the capital of Wales and is also one of the top tourist destinations in the United Kingdom. It gained the title, “City of Castles” because of the five castles surrounding the city namely; the Raglan Castle, the Dinefwr Castle, Powis Castle, Laugharne Castle, Caerphilly Castle. Cardiff boasts of its Welsh culture and the fact that it is considered as one of the best shopping destinations in Wales. On top of that, Cardiff is said to be a green city due to the hundreds of parks and gardens located within the area. The citizens living in Cardiff are also encouraged to recycle their rubbish into useable tools and materials.
Cardiff is no doubt, an industrial and cultural city in Wales. So, how exactly did this city turn into Wales’ heart of music?
THE FIRST BEAT
Welsh folk music dates back to as early as the mid-eleventh century. Songs from Wales, at that time, would involve seasonal customs. Their traditional music was mostly processional songs, dancing music, as well as songs for feasts. By the coming of the 12th century, contests called “eisteddfodau” began to gain popularity. These are poetic and musical contests held to recognize the most talented Welsh bards across Wales.
As time passed by, traditional Welsh music also began to change. Between the 18th and 19th century, chorale music replaced the use of traditional instruments. This was the start of a new music culture in Wales. Religion became prominent in the country and there are some who thought that the old music styles shows immorality. Therefore, religious music became prevalent throughout the country. Hymns were performed and made popular by hymn writer, William Williams. Other musical producers and writers of that era began to explore secular tunes and Welsh ballads. Singing festivals and orchestral programs were also launched by the Temperance Choral Union.
Despite the emergence of this new musical era, traditional music was not entirely dead. During the 1860’s, the National Eisteddfod Society and other Welsh societies began a movement to bring back Welsh traditional music.
HYMNS OF PRIDE
In the 19th century, apart from religious music, secular music also gained a lot of popularity. Secular hymns were sung in and out of churches, it can also be heard in community gatherings. Tenor and bass harmonies echoed through the Welsh community’s hearts. Brass bands and male choirs were featured all around the country. Talented vocalists such as Robert Rees and Sarah Edith Wynne toured around Wales inspiring the people to love music.
At the beginning of the mid-twentieth century, classical and opera singers gained some attention as well. Singers like Helen Watt, Ben Davies, and more, became popular for raising the Welsh pride. Composers and music producers like Karl Jenkins, William Mathias, and Alun Hoddinott were also famed at that time.
THE ERA OF ROCK!
It was in the 1960’s that the hit song “(If Paradise Is) Half as Nice” was popularized by the band, Amen Corner. Amen Corner consists of members; Andy Fairweather Low, Blue Weaver, Dennis Bryon, Neil Jones, Allan Jones, Clive Taylor, and Mike Smith. After joining Immediate Records in 1968, they instantly hit the no. 1 spot for their song. By the next year, their song “Hello Susie”, composed by Roy Wood, also made it to the top 5.
Another band called Love Sculpture became prominent in the music scene as well with their song “Sabre Dance”. Love Sculpture is a blues rock band with members; Dave Edmunds, John David, and Rob “Congo” Jones. The band was led by singer and guitarist, Dave Edmunds, who later made it as a soloist specializing in pub rock and new wave genres of music. Some of Edmunds songs were chart-topping especially during the 1970’s.
Heavy metal artists then followed after hard rock and blues bands. The band Budgie in particular, were pioneers and has influenced other heavy metal bands that followed suit such as Metallica and Van Halen. Burke Shelley, Tony Bourge, and Ray Philips were Budgie’s first members at that time. Budgie had its fair share of hits and their album Bandolier certainly was gold-certified.
Another band later appeared in the Cardiff music scene. This band was Young Marble Giants. Sounds familiar? They had two songs in the compilation “Is the War Over?” by Z Block Records. Young Marble Giants also released the popular album Colossal Youth. The band’s genre was post-punk and it featured Alison Statton along with the brothers, Philip and Stuart Moxham.
The rock era of Cardiff emerged from the 1960’s up to the 1990’s. Fastforward to today, there are still a number of aspiring rock bands situating in Cardiff. Cardiff caught the attention of many tourists for it became the pride capital of music.
Some of you might have heard of Manic Street Preachers also known as “the Manics”. This group is among the number of Welsh rock bands that have gained mainstream popularity. Other bands that later followed their footsteps include the alternative rock band, Catatonia, and psychedelic rock band, Super Furry Animals. They are joined by other groups such as the Ectogram, the Pier, and more.
THE NEW UNDERGROUND BEATS
If you think that Cardiff’s music reached its peak during the 20th century, then you’re completely wrong. All of that was just a tip of the iceberg.
During the 2000’s, electronic music was first introduced into the scene. Artists of this particular genre performed live on Cardiff’s best music venues and night clubs. It was Machine Records that is noted for making the genre famous. During the 2005 Welsh Music Awards, it won the title “Best Label” with its compilation of electronic music from different artists.
Dubstep and electronic song artists ruled the music scene underground and boosted Cardiff’s reputation as one of the most vibrant cities of Wales. Electronic music festivals are held every year and the nights are filled with tunes of nonstop party music in some clubs in Cardiff.
Some of Cardiff’s dubstep and electronic musicians are Eugene Francis Jnr, Freur, Andy Regan, and Neon Neon. The electronic music community will undoubtedly keep growing in the future.
CARDIFF’S MUSIC HAVENS
Aside from having some of the best talents of the nation, Cardiff is also no stranger to having some of the nation’s best music venues. From aspiring musicians to famous Welsh bands, you might be lucky enough to watch them live in any of these prominent places.
Here are a few music venues to check out while you’re on Cardiff;
Located at 9 The Friary, Cardiff, the Live Lounge is a bar and restaurant and is widely acclaimed to be Cardiff’s best night out spot with live music about 7 days a week. The Live Lounge scouts some of the best cover bands, soloists, and music performers to entertain guests. It’s not only a night out spot, it’s also a good restaurant by day.
No, it’s not that TV show, it’s a music/comedy venue found in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff.
The Glee Club hosts some of the best live music events. It features local and national acts as well as some of the best entertainers of comedy. They put up comedy shows every week inside their venue filled with over 400 people. They are also known for featuring a few international artists and comedians. Some of the biggest names who have performed in Glee Club are Sarah Millican, Rhod Gilbert, Alan Carr, and Ross Noble.
The Glee Club is not only a house of entertainment; it is also an in-house restaurant. It’s a good place for dining while absorbing the vibrant atmosphere.
THE MOTORPOINT ARENA
Want to know the hotspot for famous international artists? Hangout with your friends or enjoy a solo experience in Mary Ann Street, Cardiff. There, you’ll find the Motorpoint Arena.
The Motorpoint Arena was built in 1989 and opened for its first appearance in 1993. The arena costs a whopping £23 million with a capacity of 5,000 seatings up to 7,500 standings of people. Some of the world’s best performers have performed in the arena, such as comedian Lee Evans, singers Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and more. Bands like Metallica, the Script, New Kids on the Block, and others have also held concerts on the said venue. Other than comedy and music concerts, the Motorpoint Arena has also hosted sports events like the 1999 World Professional Pool Championship. The Motorpoint Arena definitely has a reputation to uphold.
- DAVID’S HALL
At the heart of Cardiff lies St. David’s Hall with its range of live entertainment, music, workshops, and conferences. St. David’s Hall became the Conference Centre of Wales and known as the National Concert Hall. The world’s best orchestras, composers, and conductors perform live at the Welsh Proms Cardiff, a prominent Orchestral Concert Series that is known worldwide.
Aside from being a place of entertainment, it is also a dining area with lounge bars and a coffee shop. Lunchtime concerts are sometimes held in the venue so if you’re in Cardiff, get the latest updates about upcoming events in the venue.
THE GLOBE CARDIFF
At 125 Albany Road, Cardiff, what was once a cinema has now became a sensational venue for live entertainment. It featured some of the best talents like The Misfits, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and the new bands of the current generation. They also held tribute performances there for famous band like the Beatles and more. The Globe Cardiff has attracted some of the best talents of the decade with acts like the Sex Pistols and Bon Jovi.
CLWB IFOR BACH
Drop by at Womanby Street, Cardiff and you’ll find Clwb Ifor Bach also known as “The Welsh Club”. Clwb Ifor Bach is three-story building consisting of dance floors and bars in varying sizes. It is home to Welsh music along with different music genres such as reggae, jazz, pop, rock, and more, performed by awesome local and aspiring talents. The club held various music events and sometimes stand-up comedies and sketches.
GWIDIHW CAFÉ BAR
Gwidihw Café Bar at Guildford Crescent, Cardiff, features some of the biggest underground DJs in Cardiff. They held diverse entertainment events every week. They are one of the flourishing music pubs in the underground scene. Every night they host jazz, alternative rock, electronica, hip-hop, and more genres of music with the best local and widely known acts. They held free events every Monday with 50% off on drinks for their guests.
The Moon is found at Womanby Street Cardiff. The club features gigs of local artists and bands performing live. On top of their local events and music entertainment, they also have a wide range of liquor and alcohol-based drinks. The Moon is definitely one of the ideal places for a night out and on-stop partying. Reviewers claimed that the music there is nice and that the club is a great hangout spot.
DORA STOUTZKER HALL
The Royal Welsh College I Cardiff opened their very own music hall with facilities that are worth £22.5 million. The Dora Stoutzker Hall was one of those facilities. The Hall instantly gained popularity for it hosts concerts, presentations, awarding ceremonies and more. It is titled as one of Royal Welsh College’s world-class facilities.
WALES MILLENIUM CENTER
The Wales Millennium Center is located near Cardiff Bay. The Wales Millennium Center consists of two theaters and one hall; the Donald Gordon Theater and the Western Studio Theater along with the BBC Hoddinott Hall. When the theaters and hall are brought together, it can have the capacity to house more than 1,000 guests. The venue was opened to the public in November of 2004.
The venue hosted many poplar events. It sometimes features orchestras, musicals, plays, and serves as a great venue for concerts of both local and international artists.
Tramshed is one of Cardiff’s newest kicking spot with some of the hottest DJs in town bringing in the best music for a sweet night of dancing with your friends. They feature live entertainment events which sometimes involve the best bands, comedians, and performers in Cardiff. The Tramshed is located on Clare Road, Cardiff if you feel like letting loose.
The Tramshed is also known for being the main venue in the third Cardiff Music Awards on March of 2018.
THE CARDIFF MUSIC AWARDS
The Cardiff Music Awards was first launched in 2015. Even though it had no funding at the time, the project was still able to gather the best music creators and artists of Wales. The project was said to celebrate and further promote music in the capital of Wales, Cardiff. Many talents were entitled with awards at their own rights as well record labels and more.
SCHOOLS OF MUSIC IN CARDIFF
Building its reputation as the “city of music”, Cardiff had schools that encourage students who are gifted with musical abilities and in performing arts to pursue what they love. There are some schools that specialize in music training and liberal arts for those who wish to become musicians.
These two schools are notably competitive when it comes to that aspect;
CARDIFF UNIVERSITY’S SCHOOL OF MUSIC
Located at Corbet Road, Cardiff, the Cardiff University’s School of Music gathers talented young artists and molding them into becoming international musicians through rigorous music trainings and studies. They claimed their education to be accessible and affordable.
The facilities of the university include their Music Library that boasts over 18,000 musical scores and printed music sheets as well as hundreds of books and recordings for the curious minds of the musical world. They also have their own Music building with dozens of practice rooms as well the teaching equipment needed for the students’ education. There are also post-graduate facilities which consist of a suite of rooms for their post-graduate students. The post-graduate facilities have listening rooms, photocopying facilities, and more. Lastly, they have a Concert Hall for rehearsals and recitals with two cert grand pianos. The Concert Hall was said to accommodate more than 200 people in.
Cardiff University notedly accepts international students from around the world. Regardless if they are undergraduates or postgraduates, the school ensures that they feel comfortable and that they belong in their environment. They give assistance to foreign students until such time that they adjust.
Graduates of the university are said to have pursued jobs while some continued their studies. Graduates gained music-based jobs locally and internationally. The music professions they pursued were; music teachers, arts administrators, composers, conductors and performers.
ROYAL WELSH COLLEGE OF ARTS AND DRAMA
The Royal Welsh College of Arts and Drama pushes boundaries when it comes to aiding their students to having great musical professions. Similar to the Cardiff University, they gather some of the best students in Wales and around the world and train them in using their talents for their future careers in music, theater, and liberal arts professions.
Royal Welsh College is situated on North Road, Cardiff. It boasts some of its world-class facilities which cost about £22.5 million. They built many buildings including the Dora Stoutzker Hall, Richard Burton Theater, the Linbury gallery, along with some full-sized rehearsal studios for their students. They also have their Anthony Hopkins Center which consists of two recital galleries, music practice rooms, a studio theater, a professional recording studio, as well as some practice rooms. Finally, the Raymond Edwards building which has the Bute Theater, the Caird Studio Theater, Sir Geraint Evans Recital Room, some classrooms, design studios, theater design workshops, an extensive library, and an IT Suite.
They built their facilities in order to attract international and professional arts practitioners to come work for their college. The facilities are also accessed by local artists and potential musicians.
The school has a wide variety of postgraduate programs like MA Acting for Stage, Screen and Radio, MA Jazz, MA Musical Theater, and more. Apart from that, they summer schools and short courses like theater workshop summer camps and the Young Shakespeare Summer School. Kids at an early age could also start their music training here with the school’s Junior Conservatoire. They provide children with holistic musical education in which they can later use if ever they want to pursue a career in music.
The Royal Welsh College held events almost every month featuring local artists and their very own students. Performances from jazz, theater, musical theater, opera, and music are performed in their concert halls and theaters.
CARDIFF AS ‘THE CITY OF MUSIC’
It was December 14, 2017 when the nation finally recognized Cardiff as UK’s first music city. It was Councilor Huw Thomas that officially announced about how they have developed strategies in making the capital the most vibrant, music-loving city there is in the whole United Kingdom. From that point forward, the city of Cardiff will continue to attract many international artists around the world.