Magical Creatures
(Earth Dance Music)


Far from being just a renaissance music specialty act, critically acclaimed classical / acoustic steel string guitarist Richard Searles makes music from a bygone era come alive with fresh inspirations and possibilities. Back during the golden era of the Medieval and Renaissance music times, music was made acoustically of course but looking back, that didn’t take away one iota of it’s grandeur or magic. Searles is quite happy drawing on those inspirations and he does so with a keen insight and knowledge as to where music has come and gone over these past 1000 years! While drawing on the musical vibe of the Medieval and Renaissance eras of music, Searles also blends in a keen insight of World music, East and West, both ancient and modern. Case in point is Richard's 2009 CD Magical Creatures, released by his Earth Dance label in 2009. Searles has a number of instrumental albums to his credit, including his highly acclaimed 2006 CD, The Green Man, which featured a blend of instrumental music showcasing the Searles approach to classical and steel string guitars while accompanied by string quartet, harpsichord, bagpipe, concertina, acoustic bass and percussion. A distinctive follow up to the Green Man CD, 2009’s Magical Creatures follows the same musical tact and yields some equally impressive results. This time out on Magical Creatures, Searles has written and recorded music inspired by the Medieval encyclopedia of animals known as the book of beasts. With titles like “Dragon,” “Unicorn,” “Griffin” and “Centaur” clearly this album relishes the magic of an ancient yet familiar world that, while hundreds of years old, is still a notable branch of the family tree of man. Once again, on Magical Creatures, Searles turns in a fantastic performance on acoustic guitars, hammered dulcimer and recorders with able assistance from Ron Wagner on tabla, dumbek, riq, finger cymbals and percussion. Acoustc guitar lovers looking for a modern approach to ancient Medieval music should give Searles a chance to weave his musical magic. You won’t be disappointed.


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Musical Background

I was eight when my mother first taught me a few chords on her folk guitar. I played pretty regularly after that but didn't start seriously practicing until I was around 14. At that time, I had a much used '66 Telecaster ($75!) and was doing my best to copy Hendrix licks. A couple of years later, when a friend started taking classical lessons, I was impressed enough to follow suit and eventually gave up electric altogether in favor of classical guitar. I went on to study music at North Carolina School of the Arts and that's where I first got into the medieval and renaissance music which has been a big influence ever since.

New CD

My new album is called Magical Creatures and is a sort of musical bestiary (the allegorical encyclopedia of beasts from medieval times) with each selected creature getting it's own musical treatment. The music is all original and, like my previous albums, has a neo-medieval feel combining both period and modern instruments. I made the recording in my project studio and, along with my classical and steel string guitars, also played the recorder and hammered dulcimer parts. Ron Wagner, who was on break from Cirque du Soleil in Tokyo, came in on percussion playing tabla, dumbek, riq, finger cymbals and the like. The music is not at all complex but, hopefully conveys the feel I was going for and is sonically enjoyable.

Favorite Guitars

My main classical guitar is a spruce top made by Robert Mattingly in 1989. I also use a cedar top by Mattingly and use Savarez yellow card strings on both. The steel string parts on the album were played on my Lowden O32c. In the studio, my favorite setup is a pair of AKG 414 microphones spaced in front of the guitar and going into an Avalon 2022 mic pre. For live situations where microphones are less realistic, I also have a Highlander saddle pickup that I plug into a Pendulum SPS-1 preamp.

Musical Influences

A lot of the music that has inspired me over the years is actually quite different from my own style of playing including folks such as Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ravi Shankar and Bela Bartok. Influences that are probably more apparent include David Munrow, Julian Bream, Alex de Grassi and The Romeros.

Upcoming Plans

For the rest of this year I'll be on tour with Harvest Festival arts & crafts shows and then it's back in the studio to make some new music. I have several ideas for future projects in mind including original music as well as arrangements of early music.

Web Site
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