It Seems To Me That I Have Heard This Song Before………

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STOCK/LIBRARY MUSIC ON TELEVISION

Since seeing “Bad Lads Army” and its successors on television, I have been more than curious about the use of a new legion of regularly-used library music cues in many documentary programmes on the box. The online source for all this music is a website www.audionetworkplc.com which contains all this stock music and much, much more.

Composers like Paul Mottram, Ray Davies, Nik Kershaw (remember him?) and other contemporary writers have made their music available to TV producers and programmes via this site. There is a “Dance Of the Sugar Plum Fairy” piece which appears with monotonous regularity in many television documentaries: its pace,  arrangement  and melody is almost identical to the Tchaikovsky original, but it almost sounds as though it was being played with the notes in reverse order.  I have since found out that the title of this pastiche piece is “Dance of the Woodland Pixies” composed by Ray Davies. Television programmes that feature this music are: “The Hotel Inspector”, “Ladettes To Ladies”, “Shipwrecked: Battle of the Islands” (desert island reality show),   “The Home Show” (in the George Clarke make-over programme this music is used in the “reveal” portion at the end of the show) and “The Victorian Farm” (surprisingly, a BBC series – all the others are ITV!) Also by Davies is the pizzicato piece that is used in so many recent programmes: “Stringfellows” , “Tinsel and Tiaras” (a piece used regularly in  “Ladettes To Ladies”) and “Whistling Willie” (more than a reminder of  “Housewives Choice” here).

There is also another piece, which sounds a little like the “Pink Panther Theme” which has also been used in many recent television shows – starting with “Bad Lads Army”. This is titled “Sideways Like A Crab” and is composed by Paul Mottram, who seems to be responsible for many of the catchy themes around these days. Other Mottram pieces which pop up time and again on our screens are: “Enchanted Forest”, “Spring Is In the Air”, “Fireflies”, “Time Lapse” and  “Groundhog Day”  (all used frequently in “The Hotel Inspector” and other shows), the Vivaldi-inspired “Ode To Spring from “Victorian Farm” and also from the latter –  “Morning Dew” (described in the catalogue as ”large orchestral strings with soaring, beautiful violin top line”).

The swoony-fifties nostalgic piece “Veiled In Satin” is instantly recognisable as coming from “How Clean Is Your House” and a Harry Potter-type theme has been used often in many documentaries: “Sorcerer’s Dream”. There is also a familiar fugue-like piece that is titled “Bold Prediction”, which will be recognisable as coming from many recent TV documentaries. And other pieces which are used in “The Hotel Inspector” are “Fat Fairy” by Patrick Hawes and a “quirky, pizzicato strings & marimba” tune: “Walter’s Theme” by Helen Jane Long.

Music To Be Murdered By

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concert review by Alistair Kerr

John Wilson, the current “enfant terrible” of British conductors, was in Glasgow on Sunday 18th September 2011 to conduct “Music To Be Murdered By” a varied selection of Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, Miklos Rozsa, David Raksin, Richard Rodney Bennett and Constant Lambert film music with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

The rousing “Overture” from “North By Northwest”, started off this marvellous concert and showed what both the orchestra and conductor were capable of. Then a short suite from “Laura” (David Raksin) gave us another side of film music, soft, sweet and completely entrancing. More Herrmann next with the “Prelude”, “Nightmare” and “Love Scene” from the Hitchcock/Herrmann collaboration “Vertigo”, superbly played with just the right amount of tension and tempo.

The “Overture” to “All About Eve”, Alfred Newman’s 1950 Twentieth-Century Fox classic film score followed and then pianist Ben Dawson joined Wilson and the BBC SSO to perform brilliantly the “Concerto Macabre”  – the climax to  Herrmann’s spine-tingling score from “Hangover Square”. The first act finale was “Parade of the Charioteers” from “Ben Hur”, Miklos Rozsa’s masterpiece – the orchestra and Wilson brought the house down with this rousing and spectacular performance.

More Herrmann started Part 2 – “Prelude, “Murder” and “Finale” from  Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. Just the right amount of brio and flair showed the appreciative audience just what a great conductor John Wilson is – he nailed this suite with consummate ease. He might have been channelling Bernard Herrmann here – one of the best performances of this music I have heard.

A suite from “Anna Karenina”, Constant Lambert’s underrated score from the 1948 British film came next and Wilson told the audience that Bernard Herrmann had originally recorded this for a Decca album, “Great British Film Music”. Then the thrilling “Main Title” from “Marnie” gave us more classic Herrmann and the concert concluded with the Christopher Palmer-adapted Herrmann  suite from “Taxi Driver” and Richard Rodney Bennett’s “Overture” and “Waltz” from the 1974 movie “Murder On the Orient Express” for orchestra, piano and – fire extinguisher! (Simulated steam noise for the engine in this well-played piece.)

The afternoon was a great addition to Bernard Herrmann’s centennial – and the almost-full auditorium at Glasgow’s City Hall proved that the audience certainly appreciated Herrmann, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conductor John Wilson, whose love of film and film music gave us a performance to treasure – and remember.