Tarka Music

In the early seventies Harry Williamson began to work with Anthony Phillips(Genesis). They created on several experimental guitar and keyboard pieces using different ‘open’ tunings. They wrote and scored two semi-classical works, which were in places harmonically and rhythmically complex. Using guitars in two different open tunings forced them to compose by ear rather than intellectually. The results were striking and quite novel.

One of these pieces, ‘Tarka‘, (PRT, Voiceprint) was recorded in 1978 and finally released in 1988. It was inspired by the book ‘Tarka the Otter’,  written Harry’s  father, acclaimed novelist Henry Williamson. The recording was produced by Simon Heyworth (Tubular Bells) and backed by movie producers Susan George and Simon McCorkindale.

Harry says he wept when they first heard the London Philharmonic Orchestra play the music a great wave of emotion swept through the control room. A once in a lifetime experience! Tarka was released to great acclaim and it stayed in the Classical/New Music charts in Britain for several months.


Harry concentrated on writing music inspired by ‘Tarka the Otter’ with Anthony Phillips. Some of the music was written in Devon, where the book was staged, and later recordings were made at Anthony’s home studio in Surrey. Carol and Harry used their converted furniture van as a mobile home  and accommodation, and it drew attention wherever it went, thanks to the rather outre paint job.

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