Saturday 14 September 2019

John Henry Newman Music Score

This week I have been working on the music score for Mary's Dowry Productions latest film 'John Henry Newman: Fulness of Truth'.  I took a different approach to this film, a lot of work has gone into this production and the editing process also took a long time so whilst I was waiting and quite geared up to write the music I decided to write some tracks in advance.  This film has been a long time coming and since the first filming day I have been inspired by the visuals we acquired of Newman.

Screenshot of John Henry Newman

I was setting up a new template in my new music PC for Cubase, one that was more reliable and systematically I was loading common instruments and switching off their individual reverbs to save CPU power.  I came across a low whistle instrument within Kontakt and it really inspired me.  I wrote a nice piece of music using this and some other instruments I usually use like harp, guitar and a nice soundscape called "Graveyard" which also had some subtle sounds too.  

I mixed this piece down and was really pleased with it, deciding that it would be a good track for my VALLEYS album that I am still working on.  Later on I wrote another piece, harp-based with a nice leading soprano recorder, the whole time thinking of Newman's time in Littlemore, it was reflective and sad.  This also became the theme for the whole story of Bl. Dominic Barberi and I was very pleased with how this worked out, it being the first time I had pre-written part of the music for a film.

When the time came this week to begin the actual score I was able to use these two pieces and they worked really well!  I also drew upon scores from other films that are mentioned throughout this production including John Fisher music score and especially Dominic Savio which both have mentions in the film.  In John Henry Newman: Fullness of Truth film there is a great section of Dominic Savio's vision of England so I hunted out the music I had written about this when it is covered in the film "St. Dominic Savio" and found myself excited at how many relevant things from over the years are brought into the Newman film and I really look forward to working on "England: The Dowry of Mary" which we will be producing this year too.

Having a production that has presentation sections throughout is really handy for me because I don't have to write music for these sections of the film and before I set out on this film score I knew that I would draw upon other film scores as this film is over an hour in length and I did not deem it necessary to write about half an hour of new underscore in parts.  I used the God's Champion opening titles for parts about the English Martyrs as we have a popular you tube film 'John Henry Newman and the English Martyrs" which also uses this music score this gave the film continuity with the English Martyrs and the atmosphere of these great saints and when I wrote new parts of the score it was fun to blend into these older scores; the tricky part was moving into the right keys.  I was also extremely inspired throughout the film to write new pieces and drew upon clarinet and bassoon since they were loaded already in the new template.  

Clarinet and Bassoon are not instruments that I use very often so it was great to use them especially in the scenery fill-in as something very new mixed in with the older scores, it made this film really interesting.  Something I did with this score that was really fun was incorporate an organ because visually there is a part with the hymn "Lead, Kindly Light" written by Newman and I thought it would be great to subtly hear this piece as it is spoken about.  It took me ages to organize because it turned out the picture used is a tune I did not recognize but I could not find the tune that I knew from church, who composed it or if it was in the Public Domain.  In the end I found at least five versions but went for the one that matched the score in the picture, by John Dykes, although I played it in a different key as it would have been a nightmare to try and smoothly change into that key; I love how it ties in briefly and subtly as the film passes over the music score.

One thing I did find that about three-quarters of the way through this film there is a very inspiring part about England, it's history, churches, the reformation and the English Martyrs and I used a nice section from my score I wrote for our film on Polydore Plasden, I got so inspired!!  It really made this new production on Newman very relevant for today.  I did not realise until we worked on this film how important Newman is for England, especially now and also how many of our previous films really tie in with him and this new film.

John Henry Newman: Fullness of Truth is available worldwide now on DVD from 

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