I should have written this post weeks ago. I said I was going to, and then I just…didn’t. What can I say? Laziness at its finest.
Which, of course, means it’s really not fresh in my mind. It should be, but it’s not. Alas. Even so! Totally worth mentioning as I discovered some really cool things. Normally, we don’t check out the musical acts on our annual trip to the PA Renaissance Faire. Of course, guys, you know me by now: left to my own devices, if I was alone, I would totally make a day of checking out every weird musical act I could find. But, it’s a group event, and there’s a lot of other cool stuff to see. Jousts and Human Chess matches and…things of assorted varieties.
Still, when I saw Cast in Bronze on the schedule, I knew I wanted to check that out. The friend I met up with at Musikfest had really good things to say about him, but he apparently doesn’t do Musikfest anymore.
What is Cast in Bronze, you may ask? It’s a dude, in a mask, who plays a carillon.
What is a carillon?
A carillon (US /ˈkærəlɑːn/ or UK /kəˈrɪljən/;French: [kaʁijɔ̃]) is a musical instrument that consists of at least 23 cast bronze, cup-shaped bells, which are played serially to produce a melody, or sounded together to play a chord. A traditional manual carillon is played by striking a keyboard — the stick-like keys of which are called batons — with the fists, and by pressing the keys of a pedal keyboard with the feet. The keys mechanically activate levers and wires that connect to metal clappers that strike the inside of the bells, allowing the performer on the bells, orcarillonneur/carillonist to vary the intensity of the note according to the force applied to the key.
The carillon is the heaviest of all extant musical instruments.
That above description is pulled from wikipedia. The short version is it’s a giant 4 ton beast of an instrument that often can’t be played indoors due to the sheer weight of it. It’s a metal framework the size of a large closet or small room with a bunch of bells, a piano-like set-up where both hands and feet are used. Chords are attached to the bells, and hitting the batons makes the bells ring.
It is one of the coolest obscure instruments you will ever see, if you have the opportunity to catch one in action. Cast in Bronze does have a website and several albums (yes, including Christmas albums).
I actually saw this act twice while at the Faire. We split with my friends so I can check it out while they went to see the birds of prey (which is also a cool show, but nothing to do with music, and I did see it last year, so don’t need to see it EVERY year), but they did catch the end of the set, and then wanted to sit down and watch it themselves, so I ended up watching the performance twice. Not a complaint, of course.
The shining star of the day though, was Tartanic. And, you are seriously going to have to forgive me for choosing what may be a really poor video. In the middle of writing this post, the sound on my laptop suddenly vanished, which sometimes happens. It will come back when I reboot, but in the meanwhile I have a lot of youtube with no sound to choose from. If the below video is not enticing, please trust me enough to go look for more. I never thought much about bagpipes one way or another, but pair them with those big drums, and I am sold. This is my new happy music.
You know you’re a music junkie when: You got to a Renaissance Themed Event…and the only souvenirs you come home with are CDs.
I should mention that both of these groups have a sort of rotating performance cast. Cast in Bronze has I believe 3 different carillons and players circulating the Faire circuit. Tartanic has several members that split up to cover different faires, too, in what appears to be an orientation of 2 drummers and two bagpipe…ers? Bagpipe players? What exactly is the proper term for someone who plays bagpipe, anyway?
I came home with Cast In Bronze’s ‘Bells from Hell’ and Tartanic’s ‘Uncivilized’. Will probably revisit for additional albums at a later time.
Until Next Time, bells and bagpipes have been added to my music collection, because, you know, it wasn’t already eclectic enough.