We were commissioned to design a set of stamps as part of the 2014 Europa ‘National Musical Instruments’ theme and allocated the chi fournie as the islands instrument of choice.
Chifournie is effectively the same instrument as a modern day hurdy gurdy, a complex instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned, wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to those of a violin.
With that completed and at print, Guernsey Post's Dawn Gallienne then asked us to produce an accompanying video and we jumped at the chance to get behind the camera and create a little piece of 'cinematic history'.
Fortunately our enthusiasm countered the difficulties ahead. As we soon discovered during the early stages of the project, the Chifournie is somewhat of an enigma, relatively rare and extremely hard to track down. The hunt was then on for a professional hurdy gurdy player (the modern day version of the Chifournie).
Musician Clare Salaman and her hurdy gurdy flew in from the UK for a whirlwind tour of Guernsey by way of our recording locations, the sound in Torteval and the set in St Saviour. The derelict barn was a eureka moment in both concept and execution, providing the perfect old-world backdrop and scene setting coastline, whilst sheltering us from the brutal late-winter weather and after much clearing of decades of debris the stage was set.
With essentially just four hours in which to record the master audio and collect a myriad of video angles as Clare played, much of the work had been in the weeks leading up to the event, storyboarding and developing a style in which to produce the final footage.
The preparations paid off with time to spare so that Clare could rest her developing blisters before departure, having played the old Guernesiaise folk tunes through some 30 odd times in just a few hours leaving us to begin accessing the results and start the intensive editing process.
The project was truly unique, a real pleasure to produce and to be a part of, we hope that you enjoy the video.