Lyres and Bones

By Robbi  //  Lyres and Bones  //  1 Comment

My research into Viking instrumentation led me to the Lyre.

So i picked up the guitar and imagined what sort of music would be played by a few guys sitting around playing lyres on a lazy evening.  Firstly i began with parts that use only two or three strings on the guitar, and played them in a picking style to imitate  what a lyre player would have to do. I decided on the Fender Stratocaster for the sound.  I played these parts for a few minutes and then recorded them, all the while waiting for a vocal melody to arise from the interlocking  lyre-like parts.  Unfortunately nothing came to me that i really liked – so this little ditty will stay like this for a while.


Then Sam Wilmore a local drummer and healer came over for a visit and, since that i was in record mode, we decided to let him at it with percussion and drums.  Almost instinctively Sam reached for the “Bone tambourine”  that was made especially for me by local artisan Doug McKearn (see pic). Lyres and bones …mmm …this is very viking!  I was happy with the simplicity with which Sam approached the percussion arrangements. Even though he made his way through the many drums i have lying around – Indian, Turkish, Celtic and African – he managed to keep it very simple and open so as to let the guitar parts breathe.  Sam is great with this – he has had much experience playing in time to my delays and  line 6 looper where i build layers of interlocking parts live – much like this little ditty.

Toward the end i am trying to reign the piece in, so as to give it more of a rock arrangement, by using a thick ascending line played on a nasty distorted guitar. Finally i begin a modal guitar solo and bring back in, under it, the harmony melodies from earlier in the arrangement. This creates a cacophony of lyres and rock guitars.  It’s really fun to listen to this tail end as if  listening right though it, and not  to any one part in particular. It gets a three dimensional quality and a spaciousness between all the parts as they revolve around each other.

In the background all through the ditty you can hear the desert wind howling and whistling though our windows…mmm a gift from Thor? …The next day it snowed in the desert!

1 Comment to “Lyres and Bones”

  • Brilliant, my friend! I’m floating on the dragon headed ship!

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