The Hound of the Baskervilles

1 The Curse of the Baskervilles
2 Baskerville Hall
3 The Light Upon the Moor
4 The Man on the Tor (Part One)
5 The Man on the Tor (Part Two)
6 Death on the Moor
7 Fixing the Nets (Open Your Heart)
8 The Hound of the Baskervilles
9 Retrospection

A word about the two ‘Holmes’ Albums

The two Sherlock Holmes albums were conceived as a pair. The first album A Tapestry of Tales is concerned with a selection of the short stories, and the second album with the most famous Holmes adventure The Hound of the Baskervilles. In order to connect the two albums musically, themes and rhythms from the first album can be heard in the second album. For example, the first album opens with Holmes playing his violin. The second album ends with Holmes safely back in Baker Street, playing the same violin tune. Many more examples are given in the following notes.

13 October 2014 was chosen as the release date for The Hound of the Baskervilles because this is the 125th anniversary of Dr Watson’s first report from Dartmoor to Sherlock Holmes in London!

1 The Curse of the Baskervilles (duration 6:06)


Opening the album with a solo voice, this song covers the first three chapters of The Hound of the Baskervilles. A walking stick has mistakenly been left at Baker Street. Its owner, a certain Dr Mortimer, returns in order to collect the stick and to bring to the attention of Holmes and Watson an old legend which is supposed to have haunted the Baskerville family for generations. The estate of Sir Charles Baskerville, recently deceased, has now passed to Sir Henry Baskerville, recently arrived from America. Knowing of the legend and being concerned for the well-being of his friend Sir Henry, Dr Mortimer has come to seek the advice of the famous consulting detective.


The initial idea for the album as a whole was that the music should follow the atmosphere and events in the story. In the first chapter of the book Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying their often-played game of working out who owns an object which has come to their attention – in this case a visitor’s walking stick. They have no idea of the terrible events which are to unfold later on. This is the reason why the music opens very simply and becomes gradually more complex, and why the keyboards become gradually louder in the mix as the album progresses. When the legend of the hound is recounted in the first song, a harpsichord solo is played (the main seventeenth-century keyboard instrument). As this represents the legend, the rhythm of the opening notes of this solo can be heard throughout the album (mainly in the bass and drums). Over the course of the album this rhythm gradually becomes more prominent, so that when the hound appears in the final song it is literally hammered out by every instrument. To further emphasize the fact that the legend comes from a very different time to ours – the early eighteenth century – a special effect is used on the main vocal during this section of the song. The song closes with an oboe playing one of the main themes of the album. This is actually a minor-key version of the grandiose tune first heard towards the opening of The Blue Carbuncle at the end of its first verse. It was originally ‘planted’ there, to be used later in The Hound of the Baskervilles.


We were going over the accidental souvenir that he’d left behind
Reconstruct the man – let’s see this character unwind
His praise gave me the keenest pleasure
As I’d earned his approval

He was guided to the truth by the conclusions that I drew
Then came my professional brother – a man of science
So very glad to see the presentation
Now tell me the nature of the problem

One Michaelmas this Hugo carried off a maid to the Hall
Later that night he found the cage empty and the bird had flown
He would render his soul to the powers of evil

Turned loose the pack and gave chase
They came at last on the unhappy maid
Dead of fear and fatigue
But the hair upon their heads was raised
By the sight of a great black beast
With blazing eyes and dripping jaws

The recent death has cast a gloom on the county
And people have seen a hell hound
So there’s a reign of terror
He had taken the legend to heart
That a dreadful fate overhung his family
Then near to his body the footprints of a gigantic hound

There was a thrill in his voice
“Tell me what to do with the heir”
“He’ll be as safe at home as in London”

The setting is a worthy onepipe pic
There’s the change in the footprints
He was running so that he burst his heart

2 Baskerville Hall (duration 9:33)


The following day Holmes and Watson are introduced to Sir Henry Baskerville. Since his arrival in London, Sir Henry has been troubled by the disappearance of one of his boots, and by a strange note he has received. It would appear that he is being followed by a mysterious stranger. The advice of Holmes is that Sir Henry should go to the the home of his ancestors in Devonshire, Baskerville Hall, but that he should be accompanied by an ally. It is agreed that Watson should accompany Sir Henry, as Holmes has important cases to deal with in London. The song ends with the gentlemen’s arrival at Baskerville Hall. At the end of the song a woman is heard weeping ‘in the still of the night’, and an old clock chimes the hours somewhere in the old house.


This song is in three sections. It begins with an atmospheric introduction – a bell-like section in 3/4 time, during which Holmes and Watson meet Sir Henry Baskerville, and ponder over the strange events surrounding his arrival in London. Suddenly, the action grows apace and the music bursts into life, just as Holmes himself does at this point. The song moves through various ‘scenes’ – the strange events in London, the train journey down to Devonshire, and the first gloomy night at Baskerville Hall. The song is ‘through-composed’ rather than having verses and choruses.


On the day of the meeting the people were shown to our rooms
A letter was sent from somebody unknown
Now the mystery deepens – a boot had been taken last night
What do the actions of this stranger mean?

Somebody is watching – somebody who knows
Hiding in shadows
They warn you of danger or they scare you away
Scare you away (hiding in shadows)

We heard the steps descend the stairs
Then we ran into the street
A hansom had halted across the way
A black beard and piercing eyes then flew madly away
It’s the man who shadows our friend, taking flight
I’m conscious always of power and design
Drawing closer all the time, yet out of sight

Who was that man? Elusive one
Why did he watch then run? What’s his crime?

Later that day at the hotel they took an old black boot
It’s a mystery to me
He was to go to the Hall knowing nothing at all
There’s someone with a black beard
We’d best make sure he’s at the Hall

Don’t look with suspicious eyes on all who knew the old man
For many knew the goodness in his heart

Don’t go alone – take my friend
He’ll see you through
Report everything back to me

We meet at the ten o’clock train
The new boot was found again
And he’s there at the Hall
It’s a dangerous game

His parting advice to me
Was keep away from the moor at night
Then on the horizon, a grey, sad hill
Where the men of his blood
Had held sway so long
Left their mark so deepBaskerville Hall picture
Do they scare you away?

There’s a fire in the hallway
A coat of arms on the wall
It’s the very picture of an old family home

In the still of the night
I heard the grief of a lady
And the chimes of a clock

3 The Light Upon the Moor (duration 10:58)


It is in this song that the story’s atmosphere of Gothic tragedy begins to take shape. The song opens on the first morning at Baskerville Hall, with sunlight streaming in through the stained-glass windows. Events soon begin to close in on Sir Henry and Dr Watson. A woman who Watson knows to be the housekeeper is heard weeping in the night, and another woman who Watson meets while walking on the moor mistakenly warns him of impending doom unless he leaves at once (believing him to be Sir Henry). The butler Barrymore is discovered to be creeping around the Hall in the dead of night, and an eerie cry coming across the moor on the cold night air strikes fear into the hearts of Watson and Sir Henry. Finally, Watson catches a brief glimpse of a man outlined against the moon. When Watson looks again, the figure is gone.


It is in this song that the orchestral nature of the Looking-Glass Lantern keyboards are given their first major airing on the album. Sweeping violin themes, choral sections, pizzicato strings – all make an appearance in this orchestral song, which captures the brooding atmosphere of the story. There is also tender romance in a piano and vocal section mid-way through the song, when Sir Henry reveals his feelings towards Miss Stapleton. The song builds to a dramatic climax, with layers of sound being added as the music states another of the main themes. Following a long fade-out a quiet section featuring the oboe tune (now played on a quiet organ) accompanies Dr Watson as he walks back to Baskerville Hall after his night-time adventures upon the moor, contemplating the dark events which are unfolding all around them.


The beauty of the morning
The sunlight flooded in, throwing colours all around
The golden rays cheered our souls
This was the chamber which now held no fear for my friend

Yet in the night we heard a sound
The lady of the house, weeping in her room
It was she who wept in the night, but why?
Why did she lie to keep some unknown mystery from me?

There’s an atmosphere of mystery around this man unknown
No evidence that he’d not been in London all the time
Weaving a net ’round our young friend

I came across a stranger
Who could find the very heart of the distant mirebutterfly net pic
Then a long, sad moan filled the air

I found a woman near me on the path
Fair of face, with dark and eager eyes
Her mistaken warning took me by surprise

From the first moment he knew
That she was all that a man could hope for in his dreams
But her brother had other ideas

There’s a deep sorrow ever in her heart
And a long shadow in the dead of the night
He was standing at the window, candle in hand
Staring onto the moor from this house of gloom

Walking slowly along with his true love
He asked for her hand, if she’d give it
But her brother was running towards them

Waiting again in the night, with my friend
The man stood still at the window, candle in hand
Her unhappy brother was out in the night
‘Twas a signal we saw, burning bright

Then out of the night, that strange cry
Again turned our faces white
The cry of the hound
An evil face, like an animal face

Outlined on the moon
I saw the figure of a man
Silent and still, unknown to me

4 The Man on the Tor (Part One) (duration 5:41)


The atmosphere. The desolate and windy moor, rain pouring down from dark, heavy clouds, the wind whistling around the eaves of Baskerville Hall. Dr Watson walks upon the moor, contemplating all that has occurred. He still cannot point an accusing finger at anyone. His meeting with Mrs Laura Lyons reveals nothing, and results in yet more unanswered questions.


This song and the following one were originally conceived as a single track, but were separated in order to provide more space in which to cover the events in the story. Part One has the first use of more unusual time signatures, in line with the idea that the music is to become gradually more complex and dramatic as the story unfolds. The ‘legend’ rhythm first heard in the opening song’s harpsichord solo can now be heard at half speed in the bass and drums, and towards the end of the song it is used as a driving cross-rhythm. (The ‘legend’ rhythm has six beats, which works against the four-beats in the bar of this section.)


The pouring rain
My heavy heart
He was there to meet someoneDartmoor
And the ashes of a letter in the fire will give her away

The rain is falling
Upon the ivy
Falling from the eaves
And still beating on my face under the dark clouds
And whistling wind

Out in the darkness, the stranger awaits alone
Stranger – standing
Watching – waiting

Rain rustling on the ivy falling from the eaves
Beating on my face
Beating on my face
Heavy clouds and whistling wind

Unknown watcher the man of darkness
Shadows over the moon show we’re not alone
What kind of hatred can it be?

That night, the rain pouring down
I walked on the moor, no friend by my side
The hills were shrouded and dark
And no other sign of life could I see

Here in the presence of beauty
She told the truth to me
Why did she turn so pale?
Why did she fight?

Open your heart
Don’t hold back the truth from me now
Will the moor tell all to me?

5 The Man on the Tor (Part Two) (duration 6:08)


After his inconclusive meeting with Mrs Laura Lyons, Watson determines to seek out the ruined stone-age shelters on the moor, in the hope of finding any trace of the mysterious stranger whose outline he had seen in front of the moon . He is amazed to discover that it is Holmes who has been in hiding upon the bleak moor, secretly carrying out his own investigations. Holmes reveals that the woman who has been posing as the sister of their neighbour, the naturalist Stapleton, is in reality the man’s wife. With this new piece of information, all of Watson’s vague fears suddenly begin to focus upon this apparently harmless and innocent-looking man.


Starting with a variation of the opening of Part One, this song is a more complex working out of the material heard in Part One and elsewhere. The vocal lines and keyboard arrangements are developed from Part One, and there is a longer piano and voice section, without drums, leading to an extended piano solo. This piano section is concerned with Miss Stapleton. The song ends with a dramatic restatement of one of the main vocal themes, now played by the strings.


The tale of mystery, she holds a secret
Now the shelters on the hillside
Are the places I must search to find the answers
To all that remains

A ragged figure against a blue sky
A barren scene, it’s so lonely
With a chill in my heart I am waiting
And then I heard him

Footsteps were now getting closer
But then a well-known voice came in from the night
I was breathless, a crushing weight lifted from my soul
I was never more pleased to see my friend as then

Open your heart
Open your heart

“You use me, yet you don’t trust me
My time has all been wasted”
But the pain and the pride with which I’d told him the tale
Brought praise from the friend who’d lived alone on the moor

Now I felt in my own heart this was the way

The beauty is a wife, not a sister
What love has bound her to this life?
See the price she pays for a broken heart

6 Death on the Moor (duration 4:54)


While Holmes and Watson are discussing their findings, a horrible cry suddenly breaks out from somewhere on the moor. They are at first horrified to discover that it is Sir Henry who has fallen prey. But it is Selden the escaped convict who has been in hiding upon the moor who is now dead. Running blindly through the night, he has fallen to his death over a steep cliff. Running for his life – and from what? He leaves no-one behind, other than his distraught sister Mrs Barrymore, the housekeeper at Baskerville Hall. Holmes and Watson return to the Hall where, by candlelight, they study closely an old family portrait. The picture reveals the face of the man who they know to be the murderer, yet against whom they still have no real evidence.


In what is the darkest song on the album, deep piano and strings create an atmosphere of dark foreboding, as Holmes and Watson initially believe that it is Sir Henry who has ‘fallen to his doom’ out on the moor. A lonely oboe again plays a haunting melody in-between the verses, and a harpsichord supports the piano with its atmospheric melody. To highlight the sense of tragedy felt by Holmes and Watson, only a solo voice is used – there are no supporting backing vocals.


A cry swept through the silent night
The hope was gone from within our souls
The man was running – we heard the screams
So now our friend had died

Now running blind to the scene of death
Down far below no sign of life
But then to see another man
Had fallen to his doom

Death on the moor is all around us
Piercing sound of mortal ending
Our passion spent, as hopes lay broken
Death lay before us

Now going home to those who cared
The evil child had left this world
This wilful boy who held her hand
She cries alone for him

Then later on, by candlelight
The time-stained portrait on the wall
Revealed the face of one I knew
This face told all to me
Showing us the eyes of

Death on the moor is all around usbutterfly pic
Seeping through everyone who knows him
And though he waits, he cannot know
He flies too near the flame

And now before us a creature
Many souls have lain before him
This evil man, with a smiling face and murderous heart

7 Fixing the Nets (Open Your Heart) (duration 5:59)


The following morning, Holmes takes control of the situation. His first action is to let it be known that both he and Watson are to return at once to London. In reality, they are to remain upon the moor. They pay a visit to Mrs Laura Lyons, who tells them of Stapleton’s plans, and of his proposal of marriage to her. In return, they tell her that Stapleton is in fact already married. Meanwhile Holmes has wired to London, inviting Inspector Lestrade down to Devonshire.


While we are still soaking up the atmosphere of the previous song, a mini overture is performed. This restates some of the main themes heard throughout the two ‘Holmes’ albums, reminding us that both albums are concerned with the ‘world’ of Sherlock Holmes. Music is heard from The Blue Carbuncle and A Scandal in Bohemia, and from across the ‘Hound’ album. This all takes place at this particular point in the album because this is where Holmes appears and takes charge of the situation, much to Watson’s relief.

The music has grown in complexity. New time signatures are used, including nine beats per bar, and the solo section (in seven) is a complex fusion of classically-inspired rock and fusion rhythms. The anthem-like “Open Your Heart” section moves through various keys and builds to a climax with the addition of church organ, mixed choir, strings and bass pedals. The vocal line reaches a peak with Laura Lyons telling all she knows in the hope that it might help in securing the capture of the cruel villain Jack Stapleton.


Like a general with an army by his side
He said “I fear that we must go back home today”
At the start of our campaign
Now Laura holds the answers we must find

“Why should I keep faith with he who lied to me?typwriter pic
My soul he would have used, then thrown it away
I’ll keep nothing from you
Anything that you ask of me, I will gladly do for you
Ask all of me and I’ll open my heart”

The steam train came roaring into the station
Assistance was now upon the scene
The cold wind on our faces told of the danger
The dark void of the moor was all we could see

Open your heart he said to me
Open your heart so I can see
Open your heart and talk to me
Open your heart and we’ll be free

Open your heart and talk to me
Open your heart and we’ll be free
Talk to me

8 The Hound of the Baskervilles (duration 9:42)


On the final night, Sir Henry goes to dine with Stapleton. He is unaware that Holmes has set a trap, and is lying in wait a short distance from Stapleton’s house with Watson and Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard. The climax of this terrifying scene involves Sir Henry walking home across the fog-bound moor. Stapleton releases the hound, which has been kept in a nearby outhouse. Sir Henry walks quickly past Holmes and Watson, but the hound is bounding after him – the most fearful creature mortal eyes have ever seen. Pistol shots ring out and the giant hound is slain, but its master flies away across the moor, hoping to hide in the heart of the great Grimpen Mire. The following day, no traces of him can be found, other than Sir Henry’s missing boot, which Stapleton had thrown away in his flight. It must be assumed that he fell to his doom, buried alive somewhere deep in the mire.


At this point during the recording of The Hound of the Baskervilles, a strange thing happened. It occurred to me that the previous song had ended in the key of D, and that the final song opens in the key of G sharp minor. This is strange because the ‘interval’, or musical distance, between D and G sharp is called an ‘augmented fourth’. Since the Middle Ages this interval has been known as Diabolus in Musica – ‘the devil in music’. This was not planned by me in any way – it was only when I came to record the final song that I noticed it, and so recorded the two strange-sounding low notes which open the song. Given the fact that it is in this final song that the ‘hound from Hell’ appears, it is rather weird…

Musically, this song is the culmination of everything we have so far heard in the set. All of the themes, the motifs, the complex rhythms and the changes of key are taken to their logical extreme in this final epic song. The terrifying confusion and blind panic of the final scene is mirrored in the music by its complexity – in some sections there is a new time signature in every bar. Crotchet beats are mixed with quaver beats so that the listener is confused as to where the beat actually falls, and no two sections are exactly the same. When the hound appears through the fog a huge, dramatic chord is sounded, and for a moment time seems to stand still, as it does for Holmes, Watson, and Inspector Lestrade when they first see the hound. The tune first heard right back towards the opening of The Blue Carbuncle and heard in the minor mode across this album is now played in unison by all the instruments. The rhythmic idea used as an undercurrent throughout the ‘Hound’ set (representing the legend – it comes from the harpsichord solo in The Curse of the Baskervilles) is now also heard from all the instruments – the villain is exposed.

When the song reaches its closing moments there appears a slow funereal section, when we hear of the apparent death of Stapleton, who has fled into the night but fallen into the hideous depths of the great Grimpen Mire.


Walking – silent – talking in a whisper

He was hurt by our desertion
Go to dine, but walk home across the moor

Waiting – watching – creeping in the shadows
Our young friend was there, deep within the demon’s lair
This brave man, who believed he fought alone

The creaking of a door from an outhouse in the orchard
The lady was nowhere that I could see
While a strange noise from inside spoke of the horror still to come

The night was clear and fine, and the stars were shining brightly
While the fog was drifting closer all the time
Now the house was but a strange ship sailing on a ghostly sea

Waiting in fear, can’t move any further, this is the final scene

Staring, through the darkest night
Through the mist there stepped our friend
Glancing all around, with fearful eyes

Fire burst from the open mouth
The eyes glowed, with a smouldering glare
I knew no such hound had mortal eyes ever seen

Bounding down the track, hard upon our friend
The beast was flying past, as we opened fire
With a final scream of pain, the giant hound was dead

He was flying through the night, to the heart of the distant mire
Looking for escape, somewhere to hide

If the earth told a true story, this cold and cruel man
Is ever buried in its heart

9 Retrospection (duration 2:52)


The final scene of the adventure is concerned with the meeting which takes place at Baker Street between Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, Sir Henry Baskerville, and Dr Mortimer. Holmes brings together in a single narrative all of the known facts concerning this complex case. Watson can then go on to produce his account of the adventure. This has of course become the most celebrated Sherlock Holmes case, and one of the most well-known books in the modern world.


This short instrumental track restates for a final time the two main themes and the main chord sequence used across The Hound of the Baskervilles album. These are combined with the violin tune which opened the first album A Tapestry of Tales, thereby completing the cycle and giving Sherlock Holmes the last word.
The End

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The characters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are used here by kind permission of Jonathan Clowes Limited, on behalf of Andrea Plunket, Director of the Arthur Conan Doyle EU trademarks.
The characters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are used here by kind permission of Andrea Plunket,
Administrator of the Conan Doyle Copyrights. (US licence.)

2 Responses to The Hound of the Baskervilles

  1. Loving all the musical notes and details, great stuff! 🙂