I had great fun making some music for Amy Morvell’s new duet called Turtle Dove. All the sounds take their lead from some beautiful soundbites of people talking about love, that Amy had collected during her research. So rather writing music for contemporary dance on the theme of love, the musical tracks are inspired by the places and characters we hear in the text, and that is what makes it so varied!
Huge thank you to The Point for hosting a preview of my immersive sound exhibition The Choreography of Sound. The exhibition gave me an opportunity to test some of the recordings I have made while researching the project, and get some audience feedback on what has been successful so far.
Dancer Amy Morvell and I had a great time shooting some dance photography in Chichester last week. We started in the picturesque Priory Park, and then headed over to the University of Chichester for some studio shots.
Depicted through a David Lynch-esque filmic style, The Enormous Room portrays a relationship between a father and a daughter who are trying to deal with grief.
The soundtrack for The Enormous Room is a complex mix of dreamy nostalgic music and household sound FX. When I first met Stopgap’s Artistic Director, Lucy Bennett, to discuss her creative ideas I knew instantly that it would be a production in which i could really flex my sound design muscles. So in order to write my tracks for the show I divided the sound design into two aspects:
An internal soundtrack which creates a realistic, nostalgic and at times claustrophobic environment for the characters.
An external Soundtrack which is more musical, cinematic and heard “from above”.
(Continues after photo gallery)
Enormous Room- Stopgap Dance
I loved composing the music for the show. It’s a mix of synths and guitar quite unlike any other i have written for contemporary dance or theatre. It has almost a twin peaks feel to the reverb drenched guitar loops and distant vintage synth sounds.
For the more surreal moments such as Nadenh Poan’s utterly enthralling solo and the beautiful Rooftop Duet between Hannah and Christian, the percussive elements of the music are made from recordings of me drumming on kitchen utensils, pots and pans. In the second half of the show some of these rhythms return for Christian Brinklow’s solo, this time played on a wooden door to give a deeper more dream-like texture to the music.
Under the whole show is a track called the enormous room tone. This is an infinity looping, almost inaudible track of kitchen sounds, opening and closing doors/cupboards, fridge/freezer buzzes, kettles boiling and outside traffic. This track is to make sure that there is never true silence during the performance, keeping the audience immersed in the bizarre melancholy of the show.
The show is touring in 2017, please visit Stopgap Dance Company’s website for more details. http://stopgapdance.com
We have a section in They Live Next Door affectionately titled the Man Waltz, because the music is actually based on an Argentinian tango (which is obviously more manly than a waltz). After running the section in rehearsal Ieva (fully assured of the rationality of her request) asked me if I could play it so that it sounded more major but still in a minor key, which I couldn’t help but laugh at, particularly because it followed her direction to the dancers to speak less in order to say more.
On a more serious note the duet is shaping up to be a really powerful and beautiful piece, and it was lovely to get such positive feedback from our sharing with The Point staff on Friday. Nick Minns and Mark Boldin are absolutely fantastic performers.
Next week we’re off to Theatre in the Mill Bradford, to put the final touches on all the sections, transitions and finer details. All of the music is written now, so it’s just about making sure that the music and the sound design really support Ieva’s vision for the piece.
Watch this space…
PS. I did manage make it sound more major, whilst playing in the minor key, in case you’re wondering…
Last week I finished my second contemporary dance soundtrack of the year. This time it was for the lovely and talented Tim Casson who has made a family friendly piece on Stopgap‘s SG2 Company, called Night at the Theatre.
It’s a show about three unlikely characters (Hannah Sampson, Nadenh Poan and Connor Quill) accidentally stumbling into a theatre and becoming the stars of their own show. It has some hilarious moments in it, and some really beautiful dancing.
The set and lighting design is spectacular- creating the beautiful illusion of an old abandoned theatre. I’ve tried to match this with a sound design which includes creaking floorboard, and a draughty atmosphere. When the music for each section fades away the characters are always left in this sound design.
Some of the highlights are Dan’s dreamy solo (pictured at the top) which I created a track with windchimes and glockenspiels for, and Hannah’s Disco which has more funk than you can shake a stick at.
SG2 are an integrated dance company run by Stopgap, which means that their dancers are a mix of disabled and non-disabled dancers. I’ve worked with Nadenh and Hannah before when we worked with George Adams on Integrance a European cultural commission for disabled dancers. Both Hannah and Nadenh are really skilled dancers, so it was great to work with them again, and inspiring to see how much they continue to improve.