Theme Song From Giles Bastet, 9th Heavenly Cat

Back in November 2022 I was privileged to be commissioned by the Lincolnshire author Neil S Reddy to write a theme tune to his recently completed book, Arise Giles Bastet, 9th Heavenly Cat, a folk horror tale with an Egyptian Cat God at the centre. He sent me over the book to read (well almost - he emailed the entire book as a word document as it was so recently finished that it was still in a document format!)  Neil and I have never met in person - we live on opposite sides of a big county, but we have often been in the same online groups, most frequently Eliza Carthy's online Folk Club during the pandemic years, but also through the occasional online singing group I host. I had total artistic freedom, but Neil knew that most of my work is based around folk music so whatever I created would certainly be influenced by that.

Copy of the front page proof of Giles Bastet, 9th Heavenly Cat by Neil S Reddy

Obviously the project was to be confidential, but I couldn't even start writing until I'd read the book. And the song would be printed in the book once completed as well as being released as a download. Neil's work has a dark (very dark!) humour and is somewhat tinged with horror, but of a type that is unsettlingly weird rather than full on gory, although it sometimes has a touch of that too. Giles Bastet was no exception. 

The book read, I lived with the story for a few weeks to see what my brain made of it and eventually ideas came. I learnt a helpful hint from Jon Boden a few years ago when we were on a zoom call discussing music writing - have an idea of how your song will end and work back from that. And that's usually worked for me on new songs (although it's a different approach to that which I use when re-writing/re-setting old traditional ballads and songs). Using parts of the story the verses started to develop and a chorus (which actually started out as the beginning of a verse!)

The melody I had in my head wasn't sitting right and I tweaked it and tweaked it but there was just something which felt wrong. The deadline was rapidly approaching when suddenly I realised that a melody I was working on for a different song worked for Giles Bastet far better than for the song for which I'd originally written it. after writing the notation, I made a rough unaccompanied vocal for Neil on a voice note and sent it over. Thankfully he really liked it. 

And that was it for months until Neil showed me the cover artwork by Tim Youster and told me the release date (14th March 2024 - you can buy it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Arise-Giles-Bastet-9th-Heavenly/dp/0995475393/) so I had 6 weeks to record and publish the song so that it released on the same day. 

I'd partially written an accompanying arrangement for fiddle - although it would mean singing the song in a different key to make the fiddle part work. But whatever I tried, it didn't have the sound I wanted. However Edith, with a semi drone notation did! Edith is my mid-19th century Parisian harmoniflute. She's a sort of cross between a harmonium and an accordion, made around the 1860s by an instrument company called Busson, and has a very melancholic sound (which is why I named her ‘Edith’, after Edith Piaf, the Parisian singer).

And she was perfect for the job. You can hear the final results on the Bandcamp link!

 

https://helenlindley.bandcamp.com/track/giles-bastet-9th-heavenly-cat-theme-song

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