Saturday 25 November 2017

Dewi Sant, new instrumental music CD album, choral, fusion, composing a soundtrack

The last couple of weeks has seen me seize the opportunity of a gap between film scores to produce another soundtrack CD album.  I have been asked many times to make the music from Mary's Dowry Productions films available on audio CD.  I have been producing instrumental music albums on CD for over two decades now but I take an awful lot of time out from this whenever we produce a new film and I write the music directly to picture.  We have so many projects simultaneously on the go that I find it difficult to get back into the mind set of a music CD album.  However, the music that I do write to the films is very similar to the music on my CD albums, albeit more directed by the films themselves, but the instruments are the same and my style and sound is the same too.  In fact, sometimes I am pushed into directions I would not usually go because as I am writing to picture, the storyline changes or something is specifically needed and I compose according to that and this adds a whole new dimension to my music style and produces something very interesting. 

Dewi Sant - The CD Soundtrack I have been working on this week
If you enjoy my CD albums like Dreams, Worlds, Kingdoms, then you will definitely also enjoy the albums I am gradually making available of music taken from the film soundtracks in the series 'Calm Your Spirit With Music'.  I am working on gradually releasing as many as I can and this week has seen me taking the music from Saint David of Wales production and creating the CD album Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 5: 'Dewi Sant'.  I have actually really enjoyed it.  I chose this album because the score was still on my computer as it is quite recent.  I also love this score because I was free to work with frame drums, guitars, baroque guitars and piano for some nice interlude where we included prayers in both English and Welsh languages. 

Screenshot from 'Saint David of Wales' film
I wanted to do more with this music and now as my opportunity.  Unfortunately to create a music soundtrack CD album, it's not a simple matter of just stripping away the narration.  Because the music has been written directly to picture and kind of organically grows according to the narration and plot, the volumes change quite a lot so if the album is to be just instrumental, what was a simple underscore is suddenly brought to the forefront so has to be worked with quite a lot.  Also, it's difficult to decide where to put track changes in as the soundtrack is usually a constant growth, but there are usually natural markers. 

Saint David of Wales DVD Film
I spent the week dividing the score from Saint David of Wales film into seven tracks as well as extending some.  I then spent the last three evenings listening to the tracks whilst watching the film to come up with suitable track titles that would reflect what each instrumental track is trying to tell via music.  I really got a lot out of it and had forgotten just how enjoyable and fulfilling the film 'Saint David of Wales' is.

The track listing is as follows:

Track 1: Dewi Sant (2.00)
Track 2: The Hills of Solitude (3.07)
Track 3: Holy Earth (4.00)
Track 4: Song of Grace (4.24)
Track 5: A Hillside Rising (3.11)
Track 6: Do Ye the Little Things in Life (5.41)
Track 7: Trwy Iesu Grist Ein Harglwydd (Through Jesus Christ Our Lord) (3.38)

I chose 'The Hills of Solitude' for track 2 because watching the film at this point, the music was reflective and spoke of Saint David taking time out in prayer and there was some beautiful scenery. 

In Track 3 the monks were tilling the earth and contemplating so with a play on words to express the monks at work I named the track 'Holy Earth'.  In Track 5, the music builds as the film spoke about Saint David's miracle of the rising of a hill, hence, 'A Hillside Rising'.  I also named track 7 in the Welsh language taken from a prayer included in the film, translated as 'Through Jesus Christ Our Lord'.

Screenshot from Saint David of Wales film showing part of a prayer in Welsh language
All in all, I'm very pleased with this track, the music is interesting and pleasant, both calming and reflective, but exciting and bold in other places, very enjoyable to listen to.  I got a lot out of it each time I listened to it through.  It fits in nicely with all my other CD albums and totally has my usual style of music.  I used some of my favourite instruments in this score, particularly the frame drum with piano.  The CD is available through our online shop 

Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 5: Dewi Sant
Baroque guitars, mystical Altus voices and emotional strings mingle subtly with the sounds of wooden flutes, tenor viola da gamba, viola de roda, piano and harp to create a union of original contemporary and ancient instruments in a new sound that will draw you in and bring calm, uplift the spirits and delight your ear. Dewi Sant is inspired by all the beauty that is Wales both visually and expressively. Each instrumental track tells the story of Faith, contemplation, joy and peace through music and imagination.

Dewi Sant is available from on CD album worldwide.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Writing New Medieval Music for Thomas Cromwell: The King's Architect New DVD

We have been getting slightly behind with our productions, I suppose getting older we are a little slower than we used to be.  This weekend however we decided that we must catch up with the backlog of productions we have outstanding and knuckle down to finish them.  The new music score on my 'to do' list has been 'Thomas Cromwell: The King's Architect'.  It's a shorter film to our 'Thomas Cromwell: The King's Collaborator' which was aimed for a more religious-minded audience. 

Thomas Cromwell: The King's Collaborator DVD
The DVD is available here
The DVD became so popular on Amazon to a general audience that we decided to produce a separate DVD that was a little more generalised and would be clearer to those not coming from a religious viewpoint.  The film has been a long time coming and will make a great addition to our catalogue.  It will be nice to have the two DVDs available, they are actually quite different to each other.  I love writing Medieval-themed music because I love the instruments. 

Medieval Instruments
As with all the music that I write, I write freely so aim for a 'themed' sound rather than a perfectly correct and realistic-to-the-period score.  I dedicated this weekend to getting it done and really enjoyed myself with added sound effects.  The thing I find most difficult when composing a 30 minute score is knowing how to keep the audience engaged in the plot.  I've written many scores for our mainly spiritual productions and it's easier for me after 10 years of doing it to create the right prayerful and spiritual sound.  I can allow myself to write large sections of contemplative, very thought-provoking themes which are quite atmospheric and I find this wonderful to have the opportunity to do. 

This is our first production which is aimed firstly at a more secular audience and I knew I did not wish to be too sentimental, meditative or slow in case this was misunderstood as 'boring'.  I found this weekend that adding a lot of sound effects like horses, cavalry, fire, crowds, machinery, really aided the picture and greatly enhanced the interest in places.

Medieval Cavalry - I used the sound of this in this new production score
I am still getting so much out of ERA II samples by Eduardo Tarilonte.  For this score I made sure I used the small plucked psaltry as I don't get to use it very often.  It sounds so of that era and I actually used it in a few places as a lead instrument.  I coupled this with Tenor Viola da Gamba and Lute and fused them Nylon Guitar and added upper harmonies with a Baroque Guitar.  It blended an ancient and contemporary feel which was just the thing that was needed. 

I used a Psaltry instrument in this production - more than usual
Whenever the Church was mentioned, or monks or monasteries I drew upon Altus and Mystica both the Voice and the Phrases.  I like to fuse a subtle soundscapes with an Ethereal voice, I find it makes the listener stop and think. 

Mystica - by Eduardo Tarilonte; Beautiful female choirs used in this score
I found that rather than the narrative being simply informative, it lifted the words and added a more serious significance to them and I believe at times it drew home the history of England and kind of reinforced what was being said.  I saved Mystica until at least two-thirds of the way through the production when Saint Etheldreda's tomb was mentioned.  Up until this point I had only been using male voices.  The sudden addition of female voices again grabs the attention and in an more subtle way underlines the significance of Saint Etheldreda's story in the whole history of the Reformation.

Saint Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely - we also have a DVD on this wonderful saint!
The DVD is available here
I have just finished the score and write this as it is mixing down and running through with added compression.  The room is filled with the sounds of Medieval England.  I am thrilled that 'Thomas Cromwell: The King's Architect' is finally complete!

Thomas Cromwell - the Focus of our next production.
For more information about our historical DVDs visit our website