Music Swirling Everywhere

Music & Film:

Having always been a fan of movie soundtracks, of all genres and ages, it has always surprised me how music cannot be as celebrated as other aspects of movie making.  A generalization of course. And the ongoing vogue for more soundscape-like scores means studio films have such a similar (and processed) sound. Another generalization, of course, but the style is very different from some of the great music coming out of Europe and Asia.

I have always felt that music is another vital and primary element to the cinematic experience. Communicating directly with the audience – sometimes on a thrilling, propulsive level, sometimes on a quiet, sensory level, always with an intention to elevate the emotions and understanding of what you are watching, and often with the ability to reveal undercurrents that aren’t even immediately obvious on the screen.

I don’t pretend to be a qualified in the analysis of music structure or composition, although I did perform duties as a music editor once. An unfortunate breakdown in the information passed between the composer, orchestrator and myself after the spotting sessions meant that the timing of one of the climactic cues was way out when recorded against the reel.

Much argument in the control room followed, although I believe tempered by the fact that the music and the playing by the fabulous Munich orchestra was so perfect that a solution had to be found. (Perhaps also that the 80 musicians waiting in the studio were not cheap and the recording sessions were already tight in terms of time!)

What I also felt was that the design and texture of the cue gave the scenes added emotion and helped audience understanding. The answer was that the scenes were re-edited. And the film was better for it.

The thing I love about the music recording is the ability to be with the orchestra. How many times do you get the chance to sit amongst the strings or the horns and hear and feel the full sweep of the orchestra all around you – whether it’s a 10 piece band or a 100 piece symphony ensemble. Always so incredibly exciting.

The first experience of this was for a TV show. Since the series was about film, we always wanted it to ‘sound’ big. The first season’s budget meant only an electronic theme was produced. But the popularity of the series meant a larger budget and the ability to strike a deal for a full orchestral recording with RCA.

It was genuinely exciting to step into the old CTS Studios in London and hear the National Philharmonic playing the main theme and then an especially arranged love theme. It was well worth it – the opening title music became a hugely popular part of the series throughout the following five seasons.

This was the primary, thematic jolt for an audience, a memorable and identifying tune.

Burying into your subconscious or sweeping you away on flights of the imagination, music has so many roles to play.

Best Of British / Composed by: Rob Waugh / Arranged & Conducted by: Nicholas Raine / Performed by: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Rainbow / Composed by: Alan Reeves / Conducted by: Alan Wilson / Orchestrator: Richard Bronskill / Performed by: Munich Symphony Orchestra

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