Friday, April 10, 2015

Black Sails and the Hurdy-Gurdy

I don't know about the rest of you but I am an avid fan of television series shows.  I try not to devote all my time to sitting in front of the tube, but I am like many others in the world where I tend to rifle through an entire season in a weekend.  There is something entrancing about a sixty minute episode.  It's long enough to establish a decent plot line (for the episode), but also doesn't require long time frames to sit and watch like movies do.  So these "mini-series" as I like to call them are the perfect blend where you can either suffice for sixty minutes, or add a few extra episodes and make it an afternoon.

So one of those television shows comes from the Starz Network, in the form of a pirate themed adventure called Black Sails.  While the show is wildly entertaining, the main title music is what initially caught my attention.  The music was created by a man named Bear McCreary.  You probably know that name from the other popular television title tracks such as The Walking Dead, Battlestar Gallactica (2004), The Cape, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Davinci's Demons.  Not a bad resume if I may say so myself.

When composing Black Sails, Bear really wanted to tap into the vibe and brain of a pirate and create something that was both eerie, and commanding.  While guitars, drums, bass, violins, and others were used in the composition of the song, the main instrument of focus in this track is the hurdy-gurdy.  Ever heard?  Well, neither did I before this.  Take a look at this clip below where McCreary explains the use of the hurdy-gurdy.

For those interested, the hurdy-gurdy is a stringed instrument that has a variety of sounds and uses.  Its origins date back to 11th century Europe/Middle East.  It comprises of a hand crank, drone strings, melody strings, keys, tuning pegs, a buzzing bridge, and many other minor components.  Overall, it looks like a very complicated instrument (in my opinion) that would rival technique of bagpipes, or an accordion.  The final product is astounding and [to reiterate] the piece that drew me into the series.  Here is what it sounded like in the end.

And just for some fun, I decided to throw in another awesome cover of Black Sail by YouTube sensation Eric Calderone.  Black Sails, say hello to metal!

I hope you all had some fun with a quick learning session about this fascinating instrument.  Even if you are not a fan of the television show, I'm sure you can appreciate the various sounds and melodies this instrument can do.

1 comment:

  1. in current issue of The Hurdy Gurdy Weekly • #HGWeekly: :)