A Welsh folk song and a music box

I’m currently working on the music for a short horror film. One thing the filmmakers decided quite early on was that there would be a recurring melody that had a significant role in the plot. Near the beginning of the movie, one of the characters is idly humming a tune, and we later hear that same melody at a pivotal point coming from a mechanical music box. This theme would then also be used more subtly in the underscore as a leitmotif.

The tune we’ve ended up choosing is an old Welsh folk song called Robin Ddiog. There are a few samples on amazon if you want to hear what it sounds like, but a version far closer to my childhood experience of the song would be this performance below, of a young girl singing at what looks like a St David’s Day concert or Eisteddfod.

When I found out about the important role of the music box I remembered a long forgotten christmas present of a programable music box. It works in the same way as a player piano. You punch holes into a piece of paper, which you then feed through the instrument, and the spacing of the holes trigger different notes to sound.

When I mentioned this programable music box at a production meeting everyone was quite excited to have such a quirky and authentic way to produce this melody. But, as is often the case when working in film, the authentic sound is actually a lot less effective than an artificial substitute.

(hear recording on soundcloud)

This is a quick recording I made just now, but even if we did record it properly in a studio, taking every precaution to dampen noise from the turing of mechanical cogs, it still wouldn’t sound as seamless and convincing as a Software Instrument with high quality samples of a Celesta.

So even though arranging this welsh folk song for a programmable music box hasn’t been of any real use, it has still been a nice change from the usual film music process and quite fun too.

About jackwestmore

Jack Westmore writes music for film, television and media, and is currently based in Cardiff in the UK.
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1 Response to A Welsh folk song and a music box

  1. Pingback: Howling Of The Lamb | Jack Westmore

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