Bardcore (or Tavernwave as it's sometimes known) refers to a genre of music that uses medieval instruments to remake modern pop songs as if they existed in The Middle Ages. Its name is a Portmanteau between "bard" (an entertainer) and "Hardcore punk" (a genre of Punk Rock). In short, Bardcore is essentially a Middle Ages-themed version of music from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Perhaps the earliest known Ur-Example of the genre is Gryphon's medieval cover of The Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son" back in 1975. The origins of contemporary bardcore can be traced back to a medieval-style rendition of System of a Down's "Toxicity", which racked up millions of views on YouTube and was published by Algal the Bard in 2017. The genre saw a spike in popularity that coincided with multiple country lockdowns of the COVID-19 Pandemic, starting with Cornelius Link's cover of "Astronomia" in April of 2020. Soon, multiple independent artists started publishing their own medieval-esque remixes of pop songs, everything from Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance". The BBC even featured tracks from popular Bardcore artists on BBC Radio 1.
Bardcore typically involves adjusting the rhythm, and modifying lyrics of a modern song to fit with the medieval period. Sometimes, this means rewriting it in the language specific to the era (i.e. "Never Gonna Give You Up" in Old English and "House of the Rising Sun" in Old French). Bardcore also incorporates medieval art into its covers, usually made with this handy widget.
Note that Bardcore isn't just exclusive to only Middle Ages-themed pop music. The term can also be applied to Classical Antiquity takes on modern music to the point where there exists a subgenre of Bardcore known as Bronzecore, which is essentially rewriting popular songs with Ancient Greek musical instruments. Roman-themed Bardcore also exists online as well and like its medieval counterpart, it's pop music written in Classical Latin and played with traditional Roman instruments.
Compare Folk Metal, a music genre that draws inspiration from the past. Contrast Filk Song, which rearranges the lyrics of a pop song to match with a specific franchise.
Despite its name, this has nothing to do with William Shakespeare, who was known as "The Bard of Avon".
- Algal the Bard - The YouTuber that provided the first known examples of contemporary bardcore.
- Hildegard von Blingin - A bardcore songwriter named after German Benedictine abbess and polymath Hildegard von Bingen.
- Cornelius Link - German YouTuber who created the bardcore genre as we know it.
- the_miracle_aligner - A musical artist that performs Bardcore and Bronzecore versions of popular songs, with a particular focus on versions with translated/adjusted vocals in dead languages (so far including Old English, Classical Latin, Attic Greek, Old French, Old Norse, and Middle Scots).
- Beedle the Bardcore
- Stantough - Bardcore creator with a style similar to Cornelius Link.
- Middle Ages - This YouTube channel posts medievalized versions of pop songs and other music from "YMCA" to "Deja Vu".
- Dweezil Vanzaphir
Tropes common to Bardcore
- Art Imitates Art: Many bardcore videos have covers, thumbnails or even Limited Animation that imitate medieval artworks. A typical example of inspiration for them is The Bayeux Tapestry.
- Cover Version: Virtually every Bardcore song is a medieval or antiquity-themed version of a pop song.
- Retraux: Bardcore usually involves rewriting the lyrics and rhythm of the original song to fit with the time period.
- Translated Cover Version: Sometimes, the song will be translated into the Common Tongue of a certain era such as Old English or Latin.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Bardcore songs are often more concerned with a general medieval-ish feel rather than strict period linguistic accuracy. There are some exceptions, of course; the_miracle_aligner in particular is noted for trying to get historically-accurate translations and pronunciations.