Some years ago I signed a contract to become a library track composer for a company in New York. They wanted one thing: happy music.
The task did not seem too difficult. I had written happy music before. Unfortunately, such works had always been in conjunction with visuals or words, which tended to inform the listener that the music was happy. So, while I attempted to produce such stimuli for myself, the resulting compositions were not really "happy". There was melody, sweetness, sincerity, harmony, beauty, but happiness proved elusive.
Since then, I have scored many promotional films. The nature of film production inevitably includes some stages of revision, but the only suggestion ever made for my music is that it should be more upbeat / happy. These two experiences - in promos and library composition - have aroused my curiosity about what precisely makes music “happy”. Read More
Before the Victorian rediscovery of Christmas, there were two special non-Sabbath days in the English calendar: Easter and January 30th. If the former is obvious, the latter is more obscure. It was set aside in memoriam of Charles the First, 30th January being the date of his execution. (Historians tell us that this was for the rarity of "regicide", although Kings like Richard III were killed in battle. In terms of the execution of a monarch, we need only look to Queen Anne, second wife of Henry VIII. She was given a coronation in her own name and would have been Queen in the event of Henry VIII's death. If Charles I was the victim of regicide, then Queen Anne was even more the victim of regina-cide.)
But what does this have to do with music? Read More
Little Alma Deutscher has been likened to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for being remarkably musically precocious.
Some praise her concentration, others her technique. Most of all, she is praised for having developed her talent at such an early age. And this is the lot of the prodigy, the dangerous, poisoned chalice - for most prodigies do not reach the level of genius when they reach maturity of years. They achieved something sooner than the rest, but rarely better. When the novelty dies everyone begins to listen to the specific ability with more care, and discovers that what they took as special was quite ordinary ability after all. Read More