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WELL IN THE WILDWOOD CD
Songs from the Place Beyond
Sung by Caitlín Matthews
Compact disc produced/arranged/accompanied by R J Stewart
Total time: 55 minutes.
An Inner Temple Traditions Inner Convocation ™ ® production
Release number: FCR307
Magical songs are born in the deep well hidden in the place beyond:
when they are sung, they lead us back through paths of inspiration to
our origins. This collection of original and traditional songs by Caitlín
Matthews takes the listener to the place beyond, to the very depths of
These songs hold the magic of many years, many inspired and uplifting
magical themes: they range from the Neolithic shape-shifting Fith Fath
song to Sacred Companions, a modern evocation of sacred ancestors
through song and dance. Other dances also arise, simple devotions like
the Shaker Bowing Song or the midsummer labyrinth dance ritual
that brings a whole Cornish village out to play, dance, and drink in the
There are eternal quests for lost beings or redemptive treasures in
Mabon’s Journey and the Song of the Grailless Lands. The
spiritual path of the human soul is found in the hermetic Song of the
Spindle, directly taken from Plato’s Myth of Er, as well as
in the medieval Gnostic carols, The Leaves of Light and Corpus
The magical dramatic ballads King Orpheo and the Sheath and
Knife present two different outcomes of the ceaseless quest for human
love, one triumphant, the other tragic.
There are also songs to bless the way, to strengthen the journey, from
Shaker tradition comes the Holy Mother’s Protecting Chain and from
Gaelic Celtic tradition, the lyrical blessing for sleep and dreams, Brightest
The title track, Deep Well In the Wild Wood sings of the ever-living
wildwood where the Green Man holds strength of the ancient forest, and
where the melody of ancestral faithfulness, wisdom, and power, flows eternally
from the deep well.
Caitlín Matthews is known worldwide for her books and teachings,
but few know her as a singer songwriter. She has performed her songs all
over the world. Her original lyrics have been performed and recorded across
many genres of music from classical choral compositions to popular music,
including Donovan’s Deep and Jerry Bruckheimer’s 2004 film King
Arthur, for which she wrote the acclaimed Song of the Exile.
She also uses Soul-Singing - an ancient way of healing whereby song makes
a bridge of healing between the worlds - in her shamanic practice in Oxford,
England. For more details about her books and courses, including training
in soul-singing, see www.hallowquest.org.uk
All solo vocals, original melodies and lyrics on this CD were performed
and created by Caitlín Matthews.
The CD was produced by R J Stewart, and recorded at Fat Crow Studios,
Arcata, California, with additional instrumental dubbing and mixing at
MorningStar House, Boulder Colorado. All instrumental arrangements on
this recording were created and performed by R J Stewart, playing
the unique 80-stringed psaltery, acoustic guitar, trichordo-tsouras, flageolets,
Native American flutes, keyboards, and percussion. R J Stewart
is a Scottish composer, performer, and author, now living in California.
He has composed for theatre, feature films, television, and has recorded
many original songs and instrumentals. For further information go to www.rjstewart.org
Additional percussion and harmony vocals by Anastacia Nutt. With
thanks to David and Lila Tresemer for hosting the mixing sessions.
TRACK NOTES for : Deep Well in the Wildwood: FCR307
Track Notes from RJ Stewart
The Voice and the Songs
Caitlin Matthews has a remarkable voice: when I hear her sing I
am reminded of a lost era of British theatrical performance and
vocal clarity, a sound created for the acoustic stage, without enhancements.
Yet her voice also has a vulnerability, openness, and intensely
emotional quality that comes from deep within, and owes nothing
to technique, but everything to soul and to wisdom.
Each song from Caitlin on this CD was recorded as a "live"
performance, so what you hear in the vocals is exactly as Caitlin
would perform that song live. There are no digital adjustments of
the performance other than typical and simple equalization and reverb,
or stereo and spatial dimension, and there are no edited re-takes
of single words or notes stitched together to create an artificial
vocal track. This living approach greatly adds to the drama and
magical evocation of the songs, as they are a flow of voice and
consciousness, rather than the result of studio technology.
When Caitlin agreed to record this CD, I had no idea what songs
would be offered. When we recorded them I was amazed at the variety
of texture, melody, mood, and lyrics in this collection. The songs
fall into three broad groups:
dramatic songs and ballads that speak of a primal ancestral world.
These include the title track, Deep Well in the Wildwood
(1), Fith Fath (3), King Orfeo (6),
Sheath and Knife (13).
songs, including Mabon's Journey (7), and Brightest
and magical songs, such as the medieval Corpus Christi Carol
(2), The Leaves of Life (9 ), The Song of
the Grailless Lands (11), two exquisitely simple Shaker
songs, I Will Bow and be Simple (12 ), and Holy
Mother's Protecting Chain (8 ), and the cosmic Platonic
vision of the Goddess Arete and the Three Muses, in The
Song of the Spindle (4 ).
Arranging these songs was a substantial task. Each of the story-telling
dramatic songs was, I felt, a theatrical production in itself, and
some demanded a large sound texture with distinctive instruments.
The lyrical songs were given a lighter more intimate acoustic feeling,
while the mystical and magical songs each inspired their own unique
approach and soundscape.
The Instruments, and the Creation
The instruments used for each song are described here, with
some notes on the inspirations, the sounds, and the creative process,
track by track:
1 Deep Well in the Wildwood: 80 - stringed psaltery,
Irish whistle/flageolet in C, piano. I wanted this song to have
a pulsing compelling sound to go with the powerful incantation and
evocation of the spirits of the wood.
2 Corpus Christi Carol: trichordo tsouras (a small
member of the bouzouki family, this example is from Macedonia),
Native American Cedar flute. Plus chanting male voice choir. The
tsouras is an instrument that has not changed much since the Middle
Ages, being a member of a generic group of fretted lutes with wire
strings. The low pitched Lakota cedar flutes are said to have been
love-flutes, and it seemed to me that the soft yearning sound spoke
of the spiritual love and longing in this medieval mystical carol.
The chanting was inspired by Armenian choirs.
3 Fith Fath. Various percussion instruments, Irish
whistle/flageolet in C, synthesized pipe sound. The arrangement
on this track is my tribute to the late Martyn Bennett (1971-2005),
a genius of modern Scottish music. The whistle is played in the
style of Scottish piping, rather than Irish or free-form jazz styles
which are used on the other tracks.
4 Song of the Spindle: sruti drone and high string
5 Sacred Companions: didgeridoo, substantial range
of percussion, Irish whistle/flageolet, electric bass. The first
half of this song is an invocation of the ancestors, so I felt that
the second half should be a celebration: it breaks out into a dance,
with a free-form whistle solo, with an expansive bhangra beat rythmn
on many percussion instruments.
6 King Orfeo: 80-stringed psaltery, and Yamaha synthesizer.
This is my favorite track on the CD for this I thought of the
ballad as a film, with vivid episodes and mysterious faery realm
setting and ambience. Not the trivial faery realm of Disney fantasy,
but a powerful and often dangerous place, just behind and beyond
7 Mabon's Journey: acoustic guitar made by Michael
Dunn, custom built Ultrafox model, with internal acoustic sound
chamber. High string section. For this I used an intimate acoustic
sound, with a simple guitar backing.
8 Holy Mother's Protecting Chain : sruti drone. The
first half of this remarkable blessing song is sung over a simple
drone. The historic lyrics included mysterious spirit-language words,
so after recording the song, I asked Caitlin to improvise using
only the spirit words. This second part of the song, with its different
soundscape, is the voice of spirit calling out from the metaphysical
and angelic realms.
9 The Leaves of Life: medieval style pipe organ and bell chimes.
10 Troytown Song: Accordion, Susaphone, mixed percussion,
harmony vocals, English church bells. My feeling here was of a slightly
tipsy village band! And I was reminded, of course, of the Padstow
May ceremony which I had attended many times in the 1960's and early
1970's before it became a such a tourist attraction. So I tried
to capture that feeling of village ritual, containing the most ancient
consciousness, but with Victorian instruments and harmonies.
11 Song of the Grailless Lands. Native American Flute,
bell chimes, harmony vocals. For this evocation, I placed Caitlin
deep in a mysterious soundscape, with the feeling that her voice
is issuing from the earth itself.
12 I will Bow and be Simple. Vocals only, with harmonized
vocals from Caitlin.
13 Sheath and Knife: Yamaha synthesizer. This was
a challenging song for me, and took a lot of thought and experimentation.
In the end the backing sustains the subtle story-telling rythmn
of the vocals, with some resonant strings, and simple suspended
14 Brightest Stars: Ultrafox acoustic guitar (made by Michael Dunn)
harmony vocals. This has the same intimate acoustic approach as
Mabon's Journey (7).
15 Deep Well in the Wildwood: 80-stringed psaltery,
Irish whistle (flageolet in C). This is a reprise and alternative
mix of the title track, without the pulsing piano, and with more
of the 80-stringed psaltery.
Deep Well in the Wild Wood, by Caitlin Matthews and R J Stewart is an
Inner Temple Traditions InnerConvocation ™ ® production: release number