Nine years ago, I heard John Adam's Harmonium for the first time. It blew my mind. I'd never heard music that sounded like that before, and suddenly, all I wanted to do was compose.
I specialised in composition during my undergraduate degree and went on to complete a masters in contemporary acoustic and electro-acoustic composition. During my masters I was invited to score a production of House of Bernarda Alba, which was the start of my work combining music and image.
Since then I've worked on three more plays (Hide & Seek and The Magnetic Diaries, both of which had a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, and Honey, a new piece of writing which recently completed a successful tour of the Midlands and will be touring nationally in 2018). I've also fallen in love with film scoring (Reunification, a documentary which is currently touring worldwide, Bespoke, a short about a down and out man, Still Chaos, an experimental short film, Cups, a horror-comedy-spoof about a man who won't recycle, Disavowed, a short thriller, and Classified Freaks, a new British super hero web series). I'm currently writing volumes of music for Move Music, and scoring two new shorts and a TV pilot.
I write a lot for piano, violin and electronics. For examples of my violin playing, see the score to Reunification, and Meditation for 8 Violins, both of which are below.
That's enough wittering on. Go ahead and do some listening.
Reunification is a documentary by Alvin Tsang. It received special jury mention at San Diego Asian Film Festival, and is currently touring international festivals.
"REUNIFICATION is Tsang’s poetic and self-reflexive exploration of many unresolved years... Backed by an achingly beautiful score, the film moves moodily across different channels and modes, bending into labor histories and Hong Kong’s colonial trajectories, wading in the mire of nostalgia, grief, and confusion that is his past."
I created the score on no budget in the living room of a one bedroom flat, recording myself playing the violin through a broken mixing desk and a single microphone. The score is minimalist and focuses on creating a sense of light and space, through electronics, piano, and violin.
Disavowed is a short thriller about Linus, a child of neglect who comes face to face with his past and must take control of his life in an unorthodox way. Disavowed won the "Outside The Box" and "Audience Choice" awards at Rack Festival in November 2016. The score was created using East West samples, and to illustrate Linus' growth, the music gradually morphs from classical to rock.
Classified Freaks is a new superhero-inspired, London-based web series due for release on the 24th of March. A group of gifted individuals come to realise that they are meant for something greater, but in order to pursue their destiny they must first evade capture from a ruthless organisation that is hell bent on controlling them. The score was created using various East West sample libraries, and has influences ranging from Williams to Silvestri to Newman.
Between The Lines
Between The Lines is a new drama-comedy from director Joe Zarobinski. The pilot will be filmed over summer 2017 and post-production will take place in the autumn. More info coming soon!
Cups is a short horror-comedy about a man who learns the value of recycling the hard way. The score includes classic horror influences through to spaghetti western style music.
Bespoke is a short student piece, telling the story of a down and out man who goes into a upmarket suit shop. The brief was to create a score inspired by Vivaldi and Mozart. The score was rendered using East West Orchestra Platinum.
Still Chaos is an experimental film from director Jamie Benyon, inspired by Doug Trumball's visual style and the music of Ligeti. The film will show at Enconters Film Festival. Jamie and I hope to work together again on a film called When Night Falls- watch this space! The score was rendered using East West Symphonic Choirs.
The Magnetic Diaries
A new piece of writing from author Sarah James, Magnetic Diaries is a one woman poetry play. Em Bailey is a modern day Madam Bovary, struggling to balance motherhood, wifehood, and her spiralling mental health. The score was inspired by concepts of microtonality, and uses piano, violin and electronics. Click the link below to hear the score, which is also available for purchase.
House of Bernarda Alba
The play that started it all! I spent hours listening to and analysing traditional Spanish folk songs and palmas rhythms, subsequently writing a cappella music inspired by this research to lyrics by award winning writer David Johnston. The score was performed live on stage by the singers. As you'll be able to hear, not all of them were natural singers, but they gave their best efforts!
Hide & Seek
Hide and Seek was directed by my friend Jo Rush. It was a devised piece based loosely on a story by Carol Ann Duffy of a fairy tale gone wrong. It ran at the Edinburgh Fringe in a tiny and wonderful venue. This song is my favourite bit of that score.
Honey has had a successful mini-tour around the Midlands in 2016/17, with plans for a national tour in 2018. It's the story of an autistic boy, his alcoholic mother, and the people who want to love them. The score is folk infused and is performed live during each performance, featuring fiddle, guitar and voice. Unfortunately as the score is semi-improvised and performed live, there are no recordings! But if you're interested in hearing the score, get in touch and I'll make a rough recording.
I write a lot of music, and not all of it ends up being used in films and plays. Here are some of my favourite bits.
A short minimalist piece for piano, electronics, and various other instruments, created using various East West sample libraries.
An electronic piece created to accompany a piece of spoken word at a carol service, with a few world instruments and piano thrown in for good measure. This kind of ambient soundscape is my favourite style of writing.
The Beauty Of Nothing
A short ambient piece for electronics and piano, using various East West sample libraries.
The Sky, The Sky
One of my earliest electronic compositions, I love this one because it was the first time I used so many of my favourite techniques! This may have been an experiment, but it was an important composition in my progression. Created using FL Studio 9.
Often I'm unhappy with the classical music I write, but I'm actually very happy with this one. It's my latest purely classical piece. I invented various rules and made myself follow them whilst writing it. As a by product of these rules, one section of the violin melody inadvertently sounds like one of my favourite pieces, Massenet's Meditation from Thais, an unexpected event that ended up giving the piece its name. Written, performed and recorded by myself.
...when all around is fading...
This piece was originally intended to be a study in orchestrating in the style of John Adams. It utilises a few themes which are used over waves of harmony. I'm pleased with elements of it, but also think that other elements could be improved!
The piece won the University of Birmingham Composition Competition in 2012, judged by film composer Patrick Doyle, and is performed here by the UMS at the Brammal building.
...out of the ashes... )
This is the electronic version of the piece, because at some point (who knows when!) it will form the basis for a movement of my violin sonata. The piece was written for a competition. The brief was to write a two minute piece on the theme of rising. Again, the use of low electronics coupled with piano and violin have become a part of my style. Piece composed in FL Studio 9 and Reaper
Again, this is one of my favourite pieces because the style of writing for piano has become one of my hallmarks. This was written when studying with Michael Zev Gordon. He challenged us to write a piece based on an existing theme, inspired by the sublime In Darkness Visible by Thomas Ades, which is based on Dowland's In Darkness Let Me Dwell. I was inspired by this Bartok piece, which you can hear forms the framework for my piece. In contrast to the Bartok, my piece focuses on letting each note sound and die away, with occasional moments of focus existing alongside the general wash of colour. Piece rendered using Sibelius 7.
This Vagabond Life
This set of three pieces were originally a sample for a film score. I turned them into a set of three pieces for piano, manipulated harp and electronics. Again, there are contrasting moments of focus over a general wash of harmonic colour. Pieces created in Reaper using East West sound libraries.
Here Be Dragons
I bought a synthesiser last Christmas and honestly can't remember how I managed without it. Created using my beautiful Roland System 1 Synth, various East West libraries, and Reaper.
Lost In The Puddles
Another piece that began life as a film sample! This short piece is for piano, electronics, synthesiser, and small orchestra. Created using various East West samples and my beloved synth.
And So We Went East
Really, this piece is an experiment with using Indian raga rhythms, and playing with some cool East West libraries. Created using East West libraries and Reaper.
The Other Road
You might have noticed now that I really love the work of other composers and use them as inspiration. Well, this piece is a homage to one of my all time favourite film composers and one of his greatest scores- Thomas Newman and the score to The Revolutionary Road. I'm very interested in using atonality as part of film, as part of an ongoing interest in consonance, dissonance and use of space. Written for synth, piano, strings, and alto flute, using various East West sample libraries and Reaper.
In Summer's Rain
Another piece that began life as a sample. I know, it's like I almost spend all my life writing samples. I'm not a jazz musician, but I'm trying to learn! This short piece has an uplifting and relaxing feel to it that I like, and was created using East West libraries and Reaper.