Composition Commissions

After several months of working on projects for other people, it has been a lovely change to write some original music of my own.

My brother’s film company were hired to make a trailer for the local am-dram production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Due to its amateur status, a temp track could be used for their short-term promotion. But the performances, locations, costumes and filming were so good that a responsive score was desirable. Earlier this month I submitted my entry to the Zurich Film Festival Scoring Competition. I am still in the habit of writing for symphony orchestra and so I have written a lavish and racing soundtrack for the trailer. Film to follow!

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A winter's work

Some seasons I have written words in between compositions. More recently it has been the other way round with my work-in-progress standing at 65,000 words and not yet half way. However, it looks like this winter will include some large scale compositions. I have been engaged to provide the music for a classic dramatisation for Audible, period music for a filmed show with an esteemed theatre actress in her 90s, and soundtrack for a documentary on the original Chester cathedral of St. John’s.

Released: "Rhuddlan Castle: Gateway to Wales"

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New from Lost in Castles:

Rhuddlan Castle: Gateway to Wales

This is my fourth Lost in Castles score. We started with Middleham Castle in Wensleydale, when I was a new music graduate. Next came Sandal Castle & the Battle of Wakefield, which featured the popular song Edward's Lament. Some years later, work completed on the mammoth documentary "Conwy Castle: Medieval Masterpiece", requiring a 90 minute score. Rhuddlan Castle: Gateway to Wales is the follow-up to Conwy, the second in the series Castles of the Conquest.

These scores are always very special to me. The films require more music than a drama, because the combination of real on-site footage and animated reconstructions requires "bedding in". Also, the historical aspect is always present but often has to be subordinated to focus on the castle, so the music serves to invigorate the pleasure that can be found in touring a castle site, even remotely. All the Lost in Castles scores are available to hear and buy online.

Find out more about the DVD here:

Dyserth Castle: Lost in Time

The special feature from Rhuddlan Castle: Gateway to Wales. Music by Abigail J. Fox.

Composing for Commissions

In the last few weeks I have had a series of commissions to fulfil, most of which cannot be shared here as musical examples due to permission and rights:

  • 4 and 1/2 minute score for an animation, which shows an old dam being converted to provide hydroelectric power. This was used for a presentation within days of completion and I hear it went extremely well.
  • Three short promo film scores for an existing client. 
  • Six instructional videos to demonstrate bespoke cleaning products, to be used at an internal company event next Wednesday. 
  • A welcome song for a play group age 0-3 years, still in development. 
  • Three minute track in preparation for a montage edit of a live event next week.
  • Stings for the start/end of videos for an existing corporate client.

Scoring is always a challenge because you have to subordinate the musical idea to the needs of the images, without it appearing to be compromise. You can learn how to do it better, but you still have to face unique corners in every film. In some ways, dramatic scoring is much easier than corporate because in drama the composer has licence to impose and make grand gestures. The best corporate scoring is only felt and never heard. It has to be very tight and to the point, without any scope for so-called "artistic" temperament. 

The song has been an enjoyable counterpoint to these scores and a great opportunity to spend an hour or two recording again. It's 15 years since I was handing in my A Level composition coursework, including a multi-tracked musical number I had written for The Little Princess. 

My Man Godfrey, Student Film Score Composition from 2006

For my final Film Music portfolio, I had free choice to score anything. I chose a section of My Man Godfrey which could stand scoring, although such a great film hardly needed it (the print below is not a good transfer - please don't let it put you off watching the original). The score is available below.