Project Broken HIP:  Baroque to the future  

Baroque, folk, and historically inspired performance

Broken Hip is a germ of an idea I have to play around imaginitively with historical instruments.  

The modern folk scene is full of innovative and exciting juxtapositions of contrasting musical styles.  There is Celtic jazz-folk, traditional Irish with hip-hop beats and Austrian funk yodelling.  In the historical performance world, we are comparitively restrained.  Ideas of 'authenticity' and of using old instruments have greatly enriched modern interpretations of baroque music.  However, we have seen relatively few attempts to marry old music with more modern styles.  

I would like to borrow a bit of inspiration from the way traditional music has evolved in recent years, and apply it to historical performance.

New music:

I'm stitching together material from the last 4 centuries.  Baroque forms, Playford and O'Carolan tunes, modern folk styles, Motown hits, 16th century counterpoint and so on.

Here's a sample.  Lord Kellie's Catharsis blends two folk tunes, one from the 1750s and one from the 1990s.  It was first performed with Norwich Baroque in July 2013.  The audience clapped enthusiastically, and we even got a couple of cheers, so I feel encouraged to write more.

New instruments:

I have begun collaborating with Richard Roberts from Sonic Violins on building a suitable set of modernised baroque violins.  Violin dealers rave about Stradivari's genius, and yet the violins don't survive in anything resembling a setup he would have recognised or approved of. Adding electronics seems to be the next step in the evolution of the violin, so I am planning to extend that backwards to historical instruments.

This damaged violin dates from the 1650s, with a scroll possibly by Jacob Rayman.  He is irreparable in his current condition, and worthless as an acoustic instrument.  We plan to fit a twin transducer bridge and a matched pre-amp circuit, powered by an onboard 9V battery, which will be inserted like a pacemaker under his cracked rib.  


The finished result:  A violin in an accurate 17th century equal tension setup, with electronics, allowing it to be used in contexts where modern tastes demand an amplified sound.

In the end, Richard decided to go for non-invasive surgery, and fitted a twin-transducer bridge, which has a connection to a belt pack which contains the 9V battery and pre-amp circuit.

to be continued