Three Danish Galleys – the full studio recording

A Viking raid on an English village, with terrible consequences for both sides.

Collected over a hundred years ago, and described as ancient then, Three Danish Galleys tells the story of a raid by 3 Viking ships on the English village of Porlock in Somerset. You can read more of the story behind the song and lyrics here.

I have loved the song ever since it was introduced to me by my mate Dave McLoughlin, who has an incredible repertoire of folk songs and an amazing voice to go with them. I originally worked up the song on guitar in DADGAD tuning, often leaving strings open to create a slightly strange feel to combined chords.

I introduced it to lovely harpist Karen Jones (I thought it would sound better on harp than guitar) and she foolishly agreed to play it live and record it in the studio. We worked through my version of the tune with the chords I had used (the main ringing chord is a combination of Em and Dsus4) and change to the timing.

With the ‘base’ done, we discussed at length how the instrument could be used to help support and convey the story, and you’ll hear how the harp playing changes through the song – subtle but beautifully done.

I had a recording session arranged with Tsunami Sound studios, and so off we went with harp, drums and more. We got the whole thing down and rough mixed in one day, including the multi-layered vocals. The multiple drum tracks (middle ages style frame drum and bodhran) represent the 3 English ships that came out to fight the Vikings.

And the ‘çhurch bell’ that you can hear is a real instrument, not an electronic sample. OK, so it isn’t actually a bell, but a very posh metal salad bowl that I picked up for a few coins in a charity shop. I was in buying some camping stuff to take to a festival, and absently tapped this bowl sitting on a shelf as I walked by. Coming back past, it was still ringing – it had to be mine!

I pulled the stems together and did some comping and mixing at my studio. Then off to Jake Booth at Mordecai Records to weave his production magic.

So here it is – Three Danish Galleys.

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It is the lead off track to the album Tales of Common Folk, Salt & Sweet Kisses, and you can read more about the album here.

Picture of Viking ships: Sjöhistoriska museet, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About Nigel Parry Music

Described by a radio presenter as; 'one of the finest traditional folk artists in NZ', Nigel Parry's unique mix of singer / songwriter, traditional and early folk music relies heavily on his vocal arrangements. Hailing from the UK, he was originally a rock singer and turned to folk music through friends, historical events and real ale. Nigel now lives near Wellington and in the last 4 years has performed at folk events and music venues around New Zealand, festivals and live on radio and in the UK, France and Canada.
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