Friday, 9 February 2018

Saint Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Film Music Score

This week has seen me writing the music for Saint Margaret Mary and The Sacred Heart of Jesus, a new DVD film production we are working on.  We filmed for this in January 2017 and it's taken a while to get to this stage.  I had no plans for a musical theme or anything in particular for this, I decided to just hit record and improvise, which is what I usually do, but this time I really just relied on inspiration.  I used my template from our Saint Don Bosco film which gave me all my standard instruments such as harp, strings, quiet strings, cello, flute, piano, nylon guitar.  A friend of ours whom we have known since childhood portrayed Saint Margaret Mary for us and her daughter portrayed some shots of Saint Margaret Mary as a child which was great as they look very much alike.

Screenshot from Saint Margaret Mary Film, as a child.
The whole beginning of the music score was inspiring for me and easy to write because the visuals were beautiful.  My college tutor from years ago had provided for us in advance some of Jesus' words.  He has done lots of narration for us over the years and often reprises his role as Jesus for any words that would make a good addition to a production.  His voice came in pretty early on so I used various mystical soundscapes which made a sound and atmosphere as if Heaven was reaching down to speak to us now.  I had been using Altus a lot in the past several productions, the voice of medieval tenor, so I discarded this and loaded mystica instead to have some female nuns, seeing as there are a lot of nuns in this production.  Having their voices doubling up the string parts up quite high in pitch made for a very heavenly sound then I decided to bring in some piano for when Jesus spoke, piano with 'Desert Loneliness' made a very atmospheric blend on top of sustained strings.

Screenshot of Music Score for Saint Margaret Mary
Within a couple of days the score really began to take shape and to describe it I would say, mystical and reflective with a positive and heart-warming atmosphere.  A very slight sense of urgency, like an urgency to adhere to the Sacred Heart message, a message of love and hope.

THE LONDON DUNGEONS

Gaining Inspiration from the London Dungeons

I think that the reason I find writing to Medieval films so easy is 1) because I have written for so many with all of our English Martyrs, 2) As a child we visited the London Dungeons and it really had an effect on me, they must have played sound effects or music the whole time because I just know what the sound of imprisonment in Medieval England should sound like!  

Saint Margaret Mary and Saint Claude Screenshot
At 34 minutes, our film on Saint Margaret Mary takes Saint Claude de la Colmbiere to bring the Sacred Heart of Jesus message to England.  At this point in the score I used Recorder, Tenor Viola da Gamba, Baroque Guitar and Harp to represent old England.  I also added some soundscapes, Medieval Tapestry and 'Scrape FX' from ERA II samples.  This added just the right eerie atmosphere of this era.  After this, the music seemed to evolve itself.  I felt I needed to do something different towards the end of the production; longer productions are always difficult to keep the pace going for that extra 20 minutes or so, this production is 50 minutes long.  I spoke before about being inspired by Marvel's Doctor Strange in Saint Padre Pio film and switching to 6/8 time to keep the pace up.  I thought I would try something similar again, without the harpsichord.  I used harp and piano instead and the sound was immediately reminiscent of Mendelssohn for me especially with cello.  For years with my piano tutor, we went through various eras and composers like Bach, Mozart, Brahms.  Mendelssohn for me was so rich and different.  After studying the Classical period, the romantic period was so filled with a depth of emotion and this was perfect in this film as Jesus almost pleads with humanity to love him.  I felt the film lift and fill with a great depth and I was obviously thinking of Mendelssohn's style at this point and being inspired by him.  

Mendelssohn
I use a lot of ancient instruments in my music, but I also use contemporary instruments and soundscapes too, in a kind of fusion that is not 100% authentic historical music, this is not what I strive for, I strive for more cinematic, reflective and spiritual with a hint of all that is historic.  For a very contemporary touch with this production I used Electric Train Trip as a pulsing sound in Trilian Bass Guitar.  In a long sequence between Saint Margaret Mary and Claude, I brought in the pulse and it immediately became upbeat and lifted with great expectation.  This was great and I found the entire film benefited from it, it kind of musically underlined the importance of what is being said in this film.  For an almost New Age sound I used 'Dream Medieval Lute' throughout this score as well as Armenian Duduk, calling out a romantic, mystical atmosphere with the distant echo of the lute effect bringing something definitely new.  All in all, I am very pleased with this score.  It's our 80th DVD, so my 80th Soundtrack, taking into account all the mini movies so seven per disc, each with their own theme for each saint.  Saint Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be released on DVD over the following days, the music is currently mixing down......



Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 2: Joy In Service, uplifting, relaxing meditation music CD Album

Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 2: Joy in Service CD
This album has been through many changes.  Saint Cuthman of Steyning is one of my favourite films and every time we have shown it publically on the big screen in seminaries, schools, parishes, it has been met with real excitement as the film is so uplifting, simple and has a touch of humour too.  Unfortunately as St. Cuthman is so little known, this is a much overlooked little film.  The music soundtrack plays a great part in the film itself, I wrote it in 2009 and it is great!  I use a lot of pizz. strings, banjos, guitars and whistles.  If the film is not very well known then the music soundtrack is even more overlooked. I put this soundtrack out there because somebody watched the film broadcast on EWTN and loved the music.  It has been called 'Saint Cuthman's Music', 'Music Across the South Downs', 'The Saxon Shepherd'.  


Since creating my series 'Calm Your Spirit With Music' for all the soundtracks, this album has been the second album in the series of soundtracks I have made available and it has since become quite popular.  In my new 'subtitle' venture, I have kept this album pretty much the same as I believe the yellow flowers and insects really are quite apt for the album artwork as there is a lot of scenery like this in the film.  I am simply adding the subtitle 'Joy In Service' to the album.
The Church of Saint Cuthman in Steyning and his statue outside
Joy In Service
I chose these two words for a subtitle because I wanted to get across that this music is so joyful!  Yes, it is meditative, peaceful, relaxing and prayerful as all my music is as a foundation, but it has something else, it has such a spark of uplifting light in it, probably because it represents Saint Cuthman and his simple story.  I chose 'Service' because St. Cuthman trusted that where the withies broke and his cart was set down would be the place where he would build a church for the Lord.  They snapped in Steyning which is just down the road from us.  He served the Lord not just in simplicity but it the service of building a church, back then in Saxon times it must have been no easy feat, but he took it day by day and built it with joy.  What is even more fantastic is that it still stands today and you can go and visit it and be close to this great saint.  Saint Cuthman of Steyning (near Worthing!) - Pray for us!

Saint Cuthman of Steyning DVD

Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 2: Joy in Service
is taken from the full music soundtrack from 'Saint Cuthman of Steyning' DVD available from Mary's Dowry Productions.  There is a nice extended bonus track at the end because I loved the main theme so much I wrote a lot more of it exclusively for the CD album.
Saint Cuthman of Steyning DVD
We love Saint Cuthman of Steyning so much that his mini-biography also appears on our 'Primary Series: Volume 2' DVD for younger children along with footage of Saint Cuthman and his cart taken from the film.
The Primary Series: Volume 2 - For Younger Children also features a mini-biography of Saint Cuthman
If you enjoy the music from Mary's Dowry Productions films then I am sure you will love this new album.  It is available through our websites as well as Amazon.

Let the stirring violin, piano, Celtic harps, mystical winds, ancient flutes, guitars and pads absorb and uplift in this beautiful original instrumental music CD.  Perfect as background music, or for chilling out, for becoming lost in thought, prayer or to simply absorb yourself in the tunes, these original soundtracks will help unwind and calm.  This particular album is based upon the full music score written for a film about ‘Saint Cuthman’ who was a Saxon shepherd. Each track builds upon the next and takes you to Saxon England through music and tells a story of simple faith, uplifting joy, peace and ancient beauty. If you like the music from Mary’s Dowry Productions, all music is composed and performed by Bernadette Bevans and all CDs are created from original tracks written in Bernadette’s original contemporary musical style and compiled, performed and finalized by her. 

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Passion and Prayer, Music CD, Soundtrack, Album, Meditation, Contemplation, Instrumental

Following my revamping of my soundtrack CD albums with subtitles, I am pleased to present Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 1: 'Passion & Prayer' a new CD design release.  This instrumental CD takes the full music soundtrack from our film on Saint Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely and enhances it for CD album.  The music in this album is meditative and reflective but it also builds in places expressively as the music reflects the faith and virtue in the life of Saint Etheldreda, a great saint of England.

I first wrote the music score for this in 2009 but I have since enhanced the tracks.  Now available in this new presentation I am pleased that the album is put forth on CD with 11 tracks of music.
Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 1: Passion & Prayer CD
The Calm Your Spirit With Music Series fuses instruments and soundscapes to create a contemporary mystical and reflective mood which is both uplifting and meditative and tells a story.  Presenting a music soundtrack from Mary's Dowry Productions films in each volume.  The music soundtrack in this CD is taken from Saint Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely film and enhances it for audio CD.  As each track builds upon the next you are absorbed in a journey of peace, prayer, thought and memory.  Let the stirring cello, piano, Celtic harps, gypsy violins, guitars, choral voices, mystical winds, ancient flutes and pads absorb and uplift.  Perfect as background music, or for chilling out, for becoming lost in thought, prayer or to simply absorb yourself in the tunes these original soundtracks will help unwind and calm.  The music in this album is subtitled 'Passion & Prayer' to reflect Saint Etheldreda's prayerfulness and strong spirit of perseverance in the face of trials.  Taken directly from the full soundtrack of Saint Etheldreda this album is both meditative in places and filled with moments of passion as several tracks grow and lift the mind to crave closeness with God.  The instrumental style is immediately recognisable as Bernadette Bevans' unique sound of ethereal, meditative music.  This album is both uplifting and meditative and tells a story, the story of love, passion, faith, exodus, pursuit, prayer, struggle, steadfastness and joy.  Allow the extraordinary Spirit of ancient Catholic England, faith and devotion take you on a journey of music and imagination.  


Track Listing:
Track 1: To the King's of Old (3:24)
Track 2: Find Rest, O My Soul, in God Alone (2:57)
Track 3: Etheldreda (1:43)
Track 4: My Presence Will Go With You and I Will Give You Rest (3:51)
Track 5: May the God of Hope Fill You All With Joy (1:01)
Track 6: Sanctuary of the Monastery (4:46)
Track 7: Flight Through the Forest (5:11)
Track 8: Calm Me Lord as You Calmed the Sea (3:49)
Track 9: An Abbey For the Lord (5:21)
Track 10: Enfold Me Lord in Your Peace (6:42)
Track 11: The End and the Beginning of the Journey (2:33)
Here is a trailer where you can listen to some of the music and get an idea of the content of this album.



Passion & Prayer is available worldwide on CD from www.marysdowryproductions.org

Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 1: Passion & Prayer is taken from Saint Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely film that we produced in 2009 and which is available through our website www.marysdowryproductions.org and also Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Saint Etheldreda DVD


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Composing the Music Score for 'Saint Padre Pio: Pray Hope and Don't Worry' Film from Mary's Dowry Productions

About a week ago I completed the music score for our Saint Padre Pio production, our latest release.  I have been meaning to write a blog about how I wrote the score, some of the ideas I had and basically a bit more info on the depth of the music.  It's been a very busy time and unfortunately the score is not so fresh in my mind as it was but I shall do my best.

Saint Padre Pio DVD
I began with a slightly ominous feeling; this production was one of our longer ones and I always find the productions above 28 minutes more of a challenge because by that point I really need to discover new ways to keep the interest musically, to not be too repetitive, to keep the film on point so that the gems that are being delivered are absorbed by the person watching the production.

The Introduction:

I decided I would approach the music score for this production with a quite atmospheric/bleak/powerful mood.  I thought about the content of the production and this saint's journey, Saint Padre Pio's stigmata, suffering, mission, his love for the Mass.  Taking the music score a bit at a time so as not to overwhelm myself, I focused on a minute and a half introduction theme that would encapsulate a general mood or message of what the listener was to expect from this production so I thought, slightly brooding, but also uplifting 'hope', stirring, prayerful and profound spirituality.  I write better when I can focus on meditative music, spiritual contemplation, if the dialogue speaks for a time about the Mass, insights into the particular aspects of the saint's spiritual life.  

Instruments

I took the harp and led with an atmospheric repeated phrase and then instantly brought in Celtia Voices and soundscapes to gradually built up an atmosphere and then led the melody with piano.  I kept the pace going so that as well as being contemplative, there was a slight trepidation feeling, almost like 'of things to come'.  



Listen above to an example of the very beginning of the film.

Something I have gotten into in the last several scores is to use 'Trilian' basses with pulsing.  This really helps to create movement but at the same time can be quite subtle.  I created myself a template from the music score I wrote for our production on Saint Robert Southwell ages go.  Because I'm still using this template, many of the same instruments load.  I also still have some instruments from Saint Don Bosco production that I used for the terrifying 'To Hell and Back' dream sequence.  I was able to leave 'apocalyptic warning' pulses for later use and add a more subtle movement with a different patch that wasn't so extreme.  I added this as a bass/pulse to the harps sequence and enhanced the movement and atmosphere.



Themes and Ambience

Rather than a sweeping cello melody, which I usually do for 19th Century settings, I used the cello as I was using the harps by copying the harps notes and pasting them with the cello.  I don't usually use the cello in this way but it built up the sound sequence by having semi-fast notes being played with the harp and cello.  I had my doubts for a while but I decided that it was different and what the intro needed.  For the melody, I chose simple piano.  Piano always goes well with ethereal voices and it was atmosphere that I was trying to create here.  All I needed to do was give the piano and voices space and to this I added high strings which always creates a cinematic ambience.


Listen above to an example of further on in the intro with instruments building so far.

Building the Mood

One of my college tutors years ago, Clive Loseby, gave me the most valuable tip once when he said about one of my compositions 'that's overkill on the flute'.  He told me not to stick to a single instrument all the time.  Until then, I had chosen my lead instrument and written melodies with it as if the instrument claimed the piece.  Ever since then however, I'll take a few bars with one instrument, then take the same tune but switch to a different instrument.  It's awesome what a difference this makes and I've been grateful to him ever since for this tip.  At this point in the introduction, I switched the lead piano to lead guitar instead.  I copied the harp notes once more and pasted them as piano an octave higher so that the repeated background sequence grew in depth even more.  By this point, the timbre of the piece was building.  

Screenshot from Saint Padre Pio Film
35 seconds into the introduction I decided I would now use sweeping cello harmonies and also bring in 'Altus' voices as a contrast to 'Celtia' voices so that male and female were bouncing off of each other in a subtle back and forth.  The rest of the introduction is mainly repeated themes with additional instruments, harmonies with two types of guitars and clarinet.  I decided I wished to have clarinet in this score, simply because it's different, I don't often use it, but also because I'm trying to stop myself spending money on new samples at the moment by utilizing the instruments I already have!

Underscore - Keeping the Listener on Their Toes

Moving on from the Opening Titles and into the underscore for the narrative, I relied on different sets of soundscapes to really set an expectant atmosphere and I decided I would keep the Trilian Bass going well into the narrative as a kind of modern/historic fusion that was unpredictable.  When I listened back to this, it kept me on my toes which was just what I wanted!

For the most part, I decided that I would write what I do best, various themes with all my favourite instruments.  I was really pleased as I wrote solely on improvisation along with the narrative and changed the mood as I went along.  For this production, Robin Ingram narrates for us with a slight Italian accent - his idea.  It was such a fantastic suggestion, I found it very effective.  It took my ears a while to adjust to writing for a different voice, I've spent a long while writing to a female narrator I felt I had to try some different ranges in order for my ears to accept and be happy. 

Screenshot from Saint Padre Pio
Listen below to the final example of the introduction music and the beginnings of underscore to narrative:

Innovation

After about 30 minutes I decided I needed to do something new but I wasn't sure what.  I suggested we hire out 'Allied' - a film I was not interested in but which I thought would give me some tips, drama, history, emotion etc.  We forwarded most of it but I came away with choosing full cinematic strings and giving pride of place to a heavily reverberated piano. 

Using Dr. Strange Music Score for Inspiration and Ideas
We happened to also watch 'Dr. Strange' and funnily I got a lot more inspiration and ideas from this score.  I noticed a main theme in this was to use 6/8 timing with harpsichord.  Right away I went back to my score and switched from 4/4 to 6/8 and improvised a long and interesting sequence with the guitar.  I doubled up the guitar notes with harpsichord and was thrilled.  I usually use the harpsichord for our Medieval productions but if it was good enough for Dr. Strange in our modern era, I decided it would be very innovative for 19th Century Italy.  It was exactly what was needed, different, light, fun, interesting and a switch to a new time signature for a while.  The middle section was broken up from the atmospheric and ethereal for a while and the attention-keeping mood was achieved.  Who would have thought? 

Listen to the video below to hear part of the 6/8 tune that I improvised at this point.  I have taken off the narration for some of the example:


Because in my music I use a lot of unexpected fusions, I'm ready to try anything new so sticking in a random instrument from the past and using it in a different way is really fun.  

Screenshot of Padre Pio Film available now for Digital Download on Vimeo
There is a lot more I could say about this score but all in all, it's atmospheric and moving, haunting, gentle, listenable and innovative all at once.  I have my usual choirs, ethereal voices, pianos, guitars, ancient instrument fusions, soundscapes and Trilian pulses all blending together to tell a great and wonderful story of a life lived very well - Saint Padre Pio.  This new film is very inspiring, spiritual and informative.  It is available now worldwide on DVD or Instant Video Download.

Listen to the music as featured in the trailer NOW at our new Instant Video on Demand Page here
Purchase this film on DVD at our online shop http://www.marysdowryproductions.org or from Amazon UK and Amazon COM.

I shall make the soundtrack available on CD soon!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Ioanna Arcensis, Saint Joan of Arc, Film Soundtrack, Music CD, New Release and Cover Design

Continuing on re-working all of the music soundtracks I have available on CD so far, I re-visited 'Calm your Spirit With Music: Volume 4' this week - the complete soundtrack for Saint Joan of Arc film.  I love this soundtrack, it's so mysterious, moving, emotional, bold and uplifting.  It is difficult to express the full extent of the content of this album and there does not seem to be as much interest in this as in my other CDs, yet the music is one of my favourite scores.   I spent a while redesigning the artwork for this album.  The first step was the sub title, I wanted the title to reflect Saint Joan subtly and to continue the theme of all my other CDs.  I was going to subtitle the album 'Power & Mercy' reflecting the powerful people of her time who captured and betrayed her but in the end, I decided on 'Trust & Mercy' because really, Saint Joan's trust, even whilst being told that the Church had forsaken her and cast her out, still trusted.  The new artwork is as follows:

Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 4: Trust & Mercy CD
It also took me a while to sit and listen to this album whilst trying to name the tracks to reflect the theme/mood behind each.  I had to find the relevant track in the film and decipher exactly what was going on and what I was writing about at the time.  I really enjoyed it actually as I had forgotten how inspiring Saint Joan of Arc is.

The Track Listing is:

Track 1: Joan (4:15)Track 2: The Lord is My Strength and My Shield (4:10)Track 3: You Are My Witness (4:40)Track 4: God in the Midst of Battle (7:36)Track 5: The Saviour of France (7:08)Track 6: Betrayed (3:31)Track 7: God Alone (4:47)Track 8: A Noble Heart, A Heart of Fire (5:38)Track 9: You Are the Light of the World (2:30)
The music is both meditative but has movement too.  The blurb took me a while as I find it difficult to describe my music as it seems to be in a category of its own, especially this album.  I was inspired overall at the end of the music how Saint Joan of Arc was an example of being victorious in battle both physical and spiritual.  She really is a light in the darkness.

For the cover image I went for this beautiful scene which was French but also reminded me of our trips to Parham House when we filmed for several English Martyrs.  To me it captured a real atmosphere of Mary's Dowry Productions and atmosphere is very important to us.  To have an atmosphere that is right and correct on the cover of this album will help aid in translating what is inside, a very beautiful and moving score which I think everybody will enjoy.

My Journey with Saint Joan of Arc:


I never really liked Saint Joan of Arc, I think she has been portrayed badly, especially with 'the voices' that she heard.  I am not interested in the idea of battle, France, her being wrongly accused, I just never really connected.  We produce our films mostly for ourselves, and also to give me an opportunity to write music for a project that is very worthwhile.  I find that the process is a unique encounter with each saint.

The Beginning:

It begins for me editing the audio narration of the script that has been recorded.  The overall story is always inspiring and gives me a clearer idea of the saint and where they are coming from, especially if I did not know much about them before this point.  A while passes after this whilst the film is being edited but then one day the Avi file is popped on my desk and it's up to me to write a music score for the film, to capture the atmosphere/essence of the saint and the spiritual message of the film.  I never have a plan, I like to sit back and just see what happens.  I was intrigued with this film as we had not planned to make it but my sister decided we must produce a film on this saint after reading about her and being inspired.

First Steps - The Right Atmosphere

My first step was to load in some medieval drums and some war horns.  I was also looking for some mystical soundscapes to capture saint Joan's visions and voices.  Once I got started, the atmosphere really became spiritual and I was inspired by the saints' faith.  As the film progressed I came to understand that saint Joan's voices were not odd but profound.  With the right atmosphere on a story, the right message is portrayed and I think we managed it with this one.  The music in a film, especially about a saint, is very important, it cannot be creepy, overpowering or tedious.  An great element of spirituality is needed.  The last thing that needs to happen is for the listener/watcher to be put off the saint.

Instruments:

The drums and horns combine well with moving strings and subtle soundscapes, voices, choirs to give a very peaceful and mystical atmosphere that's extremely moving in places.  It also keeps a little tension in the setting of war but not in a barbaric or intrusive way, but still in a spiritual way, like a subtle threat but with the atmosphere of the Lord's presence.  I shall look at a couple of the tracks from this album below.


TRACK 2: The Lord is my Strength & My Shield

In this album, I entitled track two 'The Lord is my Strength and My Shield'.  This is the part of the film where saint Joan is visited and is very moved.  I used a particular heavenly soundscape on this, I cannot remember which, but I brought it in every time throughout the film whenever the voices were mentioned.  I was pleased because it kept the voices/visions mystical and supernatural and not creepy or weird.  This was important to me because my personal experience before this film of saint Joan of Arc was of a slightly crazy person but having worked on this film and encountered her, I see her now as more of a strong woman, strong in Trust. 


TRACK 6: BETRAYED

Track 6 is called simply 'Betrayed'.  In this part of the film Saint Joan helps win the battle, she is owed everything, yet they decide to sell her to the British in utter betrayal.  I was horrified at the level of betrayal in this, having built up the score emotionally of all saint Joan's efforts and sacrifices for France, to be betrayed like this afterwards.  My sister portrayed Saint Joan in the film and I used a long full string sequence for this and I remember when I wrote it I was very moved, connecting with the saint as well as my sister in a way.  It hit home that saint Joan was a lovely person and being treated so badly.  The result (as it always is when I tap in to extreme emotion) was a very very moving sequence, atmospheric, mystical, poignant.  It might be my favourite track.

Overall, I love this soundtrack and I am pleased to be presenting more and more of the music from the films onto CD.

Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 4: Trust & Mercy is available now from www.marysdowryproductions.org

Contemplative, absorbing and mystical yet fused with spiritual contest and powerful emotion this new album takes everything that is faith and history and unites it to music.   With the ethereal chants of spiritual choirs and distant church bells, the sprinkling of delicate harp, expressive cello and passionate drums and horns, this album is both fresh and contemporary, reflective and brooding.  Allowing the mind to meditate in peace but at the same time stirring the senses to hunger after righteousness with reflective use of strings, flutes, guitars, piano, soundscapes and more.   These tracks are taken from the full music score written for 'Saint Joan of Arc' film in 2016 and presented here as a musical chronicle of conviction, hope and supernatural ambience.  Very moving, uplifting and absorbing.  

Saint Joan of Arc DVD

Saint Joan of Arc DVD is available also from Mary's Dowry Productions and through Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk



Saturday, 25 November 2017

Dewi Sant, new instrumental music CD album, choral, fusion, composing a soundtrack

The last couple of weeks has seen me seize the opportunity of a gap between film scores to produce another soundtrack CD album.  I have been asked many times to make the music from Mary's Dowry Productions films available on audio CD.  I have been producing instrumental music albums on CD for over two decades now but I take an awful lot of time out from this whenever we produce a new film and I write the music directly to picture.  We have so many projects simultaneously on the go that I find it difficult to get back into the mind set of a music CD album.  However, the music that I do write to the films is very similar to the music on my CD albums, albeit more directed by the films themselves, but the instruments are the same and my style and sound is the same too.  In fact, sometimes I am pushed into directions I would not usually go because as I am writing to picture, the storyline changes or something is specifically needed and I compose according to that and this adds a whole new dimension to my music style and produces something very interesting. 

Dewi Sant - The CD Soundtrack I have been working on this week
If you enjoy my CD albums like Dreams, Worlds, Kingdoms, then you will definitely also enjoy the albums I am gradually making available of music taken from the film soundtracks in the series 'Calm Your Spirit With Music'.  I am working on gradually releasing as many as I can and this week has seen me taking the music from Saint David of Wales production and creating the CD album Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 5: 'Dewi Sant'.  I have actually really enjoyed it.  I chose this album because the score was still on my computer as it is quite recent.  I also love this score because I was free to work with frame drums, guitars, baroque guitars and piano for some nice interlude where we included prayers in both English and Welsh languages. 

Screenshot from 'Saint David of Wales' film
I wanted to do more with this music and now as my opportunity.  Unfortunately to create a music soundtrack CD album, it's not a simple matter of just stripping away the narration.  Because the music has been written directly to picture and kind of organically grows according to the narration and plot, the volumes change quite a lot so if the album is to be just instrumental, what was a simple underscore is suddenly brought to the forefront so has to be worked with quite a lot.  Also, it's difficult to decide where to put track changes in as the soundtrack is usually a constant growth, but there are usually natural markers. 

Saint David of Wales DVD Film
I spent the week dividing the score from Saint David of Wales film into seven tracks as well as extending some.  I then spent the last three evenings listening to the tracks whilst watching the film to come up with suitable track titles that would reflect what each instrumental track is trying to tell via music.  I really got a lot out of it and had forgotten just how enjoyable and fulfilling the film 'Saint David of Wales' is.

The track listing is as follows:

Track 1: Dewi Sant (2.00)
Track 2: The Hills of Solitude (3.07)
Track 3: Holy Earth (4.00)
Track 4: Song of Grace (4.24)
Track 5: A Hillside Rising (3.11)
Track 6: Do Ye the Little Things in Life (5.41)
Track 7: Trwy Iesu Grist Ein Harglwydd (Through Jesus Christ Our Lord) (3.38)

I chose 'The Hills of Solitude' for track 2 because watching the film at this point, the music was reflective and spoke of Saint David taking time out in prayer and there was some beautiful scenery. 


In Track 3 the monks were tilling the earth and contemplating so with a play on words to express the monks at work I named the track 'Holy Earth'.  In Track 5, the music builds as the film spoke about Saint David's miracle of the rising of a hill, hence, 'A Hillside Rising'.  I also named track 7 in the Welsh language taken from a prayer included in the film, translated as 'Through Jesus Christ Our Lord'.

Screenshot from Saint David of Wales film showing part of a prayer in Welsh language
All in all, I'm very pleased with this track, the music is interesting and pleasant, both calming and reflective, but exciting and bold in other places, very enjoyable to listen to.  I got a lot out of it each time I listened to it through.  It fits in nicely with all my other CD albums and totally has my usual style of music.  I used some of my favourite instruments in this score, particularly the frame drum with piano.  The CD is available through our online shop www.marysdowryproductions.org 

Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 5: Dewi Sant
Baroque guitars, mystical Altus voices and emotional strings mingle subtly with the sounds of wooden flutes, tenor viola da gamba, viola de roda, piano and harp to create a union of original contemporary and ancient instruments in a new sound that will draw you in and bring calm, uplift the spirits and delight your ear. Dewi Sant is inspired by all the beauty that is Wales both visually and expressively. Each instrumental track tells the story of Faith, contemplation, joy and peace through music and imagination.

Dewi Sant is available from www.marysdowryproductions.org on CD album worldwide.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Writing New Medieval Music for Thomas Cromwell: The King's Architect New DVD

We have been getting slightly behind with our productions, I suppose getting older we are a little slower than we used to be.  This weekend however we decided that we must catch up with the backlog of productions we have outstanding and knuckle down to finish them.  The new music score on my 'to do' list has been 'Thomas Cromwell: The King's Architect'.  It's a shorter film to our 'Thomas Cromwell: The King's Collaborator' which was aimed for a more religious-minded audience. 

Thomas Cromwell: The King's Collaborator DVD
The DVD is available here
The DVD became so popular on Amazon to a general audience that we decided to produce a separate DVD that was a little more generalised and would be clearer to those not coming from a religious viewpoint.  The film has been a long time coming and will make a great addition to our catalogue.  It will be nice to have the two DVDs available, they are actually quite different to each other.  I love writing Medieval-themed music because I love the instruments. 

Medieval Instruments
As with all the music that I write, I write freely so aim for a 'themed' sound rather than a perfectly correct and realistic-to-the-period score.  I dedicated this weekend to getting it done and really enjoyed myself with added sound effects.  The thing I find most difficult when composing a 30 minute score is knowing how to keep the audience engaged in the plot.  I've written many scores for our mainly spiritual productions and it's easier for me after 10 years of doing it to create the right prayerful and spiritual sound.  I can allow myself to write large sections of contemplative, very thought-provoking themes which are quite atmospheric and I find this wonderful to have the opportunity to do. 

This is our first production which is aimed firstly at a more secular audience and I knew I did not wish to be too sentimental, meditative or slow in case this was misunderstood as 'boring'.  I found this weekend that adding a lot of sound effects like horses, cavalry, fire, crowds, machinery, really aided the picture and greatly enhanced the interest in places.

Medieval Cavalry - I used the sound of this in this new production score
I am still getting so much out of ERA II samples by Eduardo Tarilonte.  For this score I made sure I used the small plucked psaltry as I don't get to use it very often.  It sounds so of that era and I actually used it in a few places as a lead instrument.  I coupled this with Tenor Viola da Gamba and Lute and fused them Nylon Guitar and added upper harmonies with a Baroque Guitar.  It blended an ancient and contemporary feel which was just the thing that was needed. 

I used a Psaltry instrument in this production - more than usual
Whenever the Church was mentioned, or monks or monasteries I drew upon Altus and Mystica both the Voice and the Phrases.  I like to fuse a subtle soundscapes with an Ethereal voice, I find it makes the listener stop and think. 

Mystica - by Eduardo Tarilonte; Beautiful female choirs used in this score
I found that rather than the narrative being simply informative, it lifted the words and added a more serious significance to them and I believe at times it drew home the history of England and kind of reinforced what was being said.  I saved Mystica until at least two-thirds of the way through the production when Saint Etheldreda's tomb was mentioned.  Up until this point I had only been using male voices.  The sudden addition of female voices again grabs the attention and in an more subtle way underlines the significance of Saint Etheldreda's story in the whole history of the Reformation.

Saint Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely - we also have a DVD on this wonderful saint!
The DVD is available here
I have just finished the score and write this as it is mixing down and running through with added compression.  The room is filled with the sounds of Medieval England.  I am thrilled that 'Thomas Cromwell: The King's Architect' is finally complete!

Thomas Cromwell - the Focus of our next production.
For more information about our historical DVDs visit our website www.marysdowryproductions.org