Gadael Sneggi

Earlier this year I worked on my first Welsh-language film. It was at 10mintue short ghost thriller called Gadael Sneggi. It will be broadcast on S4C on Wednesday 20th November at 7:20pm as part of Heno, (and then will be repeated again at 10:30pm, and the next day at 1:30pm,

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I haven’t  spoken Welsh regularly for a good many years now so I was a bit rusty, but it was fun film to work on. Here’s an extract from the score:

Also, Say It is still available on bbc iplayer for a few more weeks here.

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Say It

SayItA short film I worked on called Say It was broadcast on BBC2 Wales a few days ago as part of this years Made in Wales series and is still currently available to watch on line here on bbc iplayer.

The film is a drama/romance based around a couple’s parting goodbye, possibly never to see eachother again. Right from the start of this project we knew there’d be a prominent piece of music that would be ‘their song’ that would pop up a few times in different flashbacks, with the music presented in different ways each time. Here’s a clip that shows the music for ‘their song’ in most of its entirety:

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Comfort Food

A short web series that I worked on called Comfort Food has recently started being released. It’s a 6-part series, of 10minute episodes, and is a kind of very dry-humoured romantic comedy about a long distance relationship sustained through baking. It’s not actually got a huge amount of music in it, but its filled with snappy dialogue, and by the end of each episode you’ll know how to make a pudding…!

This is the first episode below, and new ones are released weekly on blip.tv/comfortfoodtv
http://blip.tv/play/AYOSwh8C.x?p=1

http://a.blip.tv/api.swf#AYOSwh8C

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busy

Not much has been on this blog recently as I’ve been kinda busy….

121-1but don;t worry – I’ve found time to re-string the banjo, so all is well.

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the Musical Friend

When you are the ‘musical friend’ you end up collecting a lot of unexpected musical instruments. A family member comes back from an exotic holiday with gifts of interesting foods and wines for everyone, except of course they also brought back a supposedly authentic traditional hand drum – which is given to the musical friend. Even at christams, a peculiarly shaped percussion instrument most probably intended for age 3-5 makes a wonderful present for the musical friend.

So whilst the quality of my collection of music instruments might be quite varied, I am very grateful to be the musical friend, and especially so when a house-hold clear-out yields an unexpected banjo!

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So far I’ve spent a few minutes of youtube learning how to maintain the thing, and a few clicks on ebay finding some strings, and before too long should be able to get her into playable shape. Then all I’ll need to do is carry out the final duty of the musical friend in such situations, which is to try and learn how to play the damn thing.

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Twelve-Tone Funk and Pelham One Two Three

One of my favourite musical discoveries of the last few months is the score to the 1970s film The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. I’ve not actually seen the film, but the title music alone is enough to earn it a high rank on my to-watch list (needless to say, the same is not true of the 2009 remake….)

The score for the film was largely written for jazz and funk influenced Big Band orchestra, but using a tone row – part of an avant-garde compositional method developed by Arnold Schoenberg in the 1920s. When I first heard this piece I wasn’t quite sure what I’d heard so sat down to write out the main brass melody and confirmed that it was based on a tone row.

Pelham-12ToneRow

The 12-tone technique requires choosing a list of all the 12 different notes that exist in the western musical scale, and writing them in that specific order to create your tone row. Then when you come to write your music, you can only use the notes from the tone row in that order – so you can have any rhythms, phrasing, articulations, choice of instruments, but you can’t re-play a C# if it was played a few notes back, you’ll have to let all the other notes be played until its turn comes again ((of course not everyone follows these rules dogmaticcally, it’s just that the explanation I gave here is the easiest way to explain it. Schoenberg himself was pretty terrible at writing music that sticks to these principles, and he was somewhat turned upon by his successors as his methods were expanded into the serialism which came to dominated a certain kind of contemporary western classical music for a few decades)) (for an example of 12tone music: click)

David Shire’s score to the Taking of Pelham One Two Three is by no means a 12tone piece however. The tone row is very effectively constructed in blocks of 3notes, and created entirely with intervals of semitones and minor 3rds (and their inversions). But the music he wrote with it is firmly rooted in conventional tonality we’d recognise from funk and jazz, with the repeating bass riff that kicks in right from the beginning of the video above.

Pelham-Score

For the music geek in me, I just thought it was pretty cool how this score was constructed. I’m sure from David Shire’s point of view using this technique to write a funk score for an action film was a way of organising the chaos, and making some really interesting music that pushed further than using conventional jazz/blues scales without becoming completely anarchic.

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3 Feb 2013, Film Music Leftovers, BBC iplayer,

The award winning short film Buddah Boy received a repeat broadcast last week on the BBC HD channel and so is once again available to watch online via the wonder of the BBC iplayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01p680n/Made_in_Wales_Series_4_Buddha_Boy/

Also, the other day I was contemplating all the music I’d written for projects during 2012 that was never used. This kind of thing happens all the time in writing for film and other media. Sometimes the music doesn’t quite fit the scene and you have to re-write; sometimes the music doesn’t work so you just have to throw it away completely and start again; sometimes you write a great piece of music that fits perfectly with a scene only to find the entire scene gets cut from the film…

So I quickly went through a few old folders and compiled a collection of leftover bits of music from projects I’d worked on throughout 2012. So here’s a years worth of work that ended up on the sound cutting room floor.

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