The hacksilver orchestra ~ Tallis Steelyard

Reblogged from Tallis Steelyard:


In my chronicling of the life of Mistress Maljie I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the incident of the hacksilver orchestra. As a young woman in Port Naain, Maljie had known many musicians. This wasn’t because she was especially musical. She was most definitely not the sort of lady who haunts concert halls and renders evenings hideous by her attempts to ‘sing along’ with the performers. It merely happened that a lot of the boys she had grown up with as a child drifted into musical careers.

Ironically the hacksilver orchestra episode occurred when Maljie was employed as a professional percussionist. As the inamorata of a pirate captain she had certain privileges. But she still had to work her passage and earn her keep. Thus it was she who played the great drums which kept the oarsmen in time. For a percussionist this is indeed where they approach the pinnacle of their art. Whilst some might merely hear the drum beat; from a distance one hears not merely the drum beat, but a sharp splash followed by a longer sound as the hull of the boat surges through the water. For those on the boat there is also the creak of the oars against the thole pins and the susurration of cloth as the canvas britches of the oarsmen rub against the benches. Indeed in this role, the percussionist is master not merely of the drums but of a whole orchestra which performs to their direction.

Continue reading at Tallis Steelyard

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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3 Responses to The hacksilver orchestra ~ Tallis Steelyard

  1. I couldn’t find a link to the end of the story, but this is the first time I realized that pirate ships used oarsman. I knew the Romans did, but I didn’t know they were used that late. And a woman, no less. That was double interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I’ve fixed the link, Marilyn.
      Yes, oars were still in use in the seventeenth century.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jwebster2 says:

        Galleys also had the advantage of being shallow draught and the coastal waters of Uttermost Partann are indeed a maze of shallow channels and islets
        Apparently, in the ‘real’ world, the French galley fleet was only abolished in 1748 and the last Russian galleys were deployed in 1854 in the Crimean war!

        Liked by 1 person

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