30 June 2014

A Report of an Emergency

Inspired by an emergency report on the television. This has been the product of many days work as I wanted to get the sound quality as good as I could, paying very careful attention to the sound balance. The sub base has been doubled to play back on a Juno 106 to make sure it is audible on smaller mobile players.

Strings come from Spitfire Loegria library, drums from my SoWeird Ableton Instrument Rack, sub bass from Sylenth and other sounds from U-He Zebra HZ

An amusing aside – just for a few minutes I was ahead of Imogen Heap who had a new piece up for 15 minutes without a ‘Like’ – I got one from Cline Roussel after 3 minutes.

Thank-you Cline Roussel – whoever you are.

Goldfrapp perform Strict Machine at Glastonbury 2014

There is a great video of Golfrapp performing Strict Machine at Glastonbury 2014

You can join Golfrapp on Facebook here

As I long time fan of Golfrapp I was really pleased to see such a fantastic performance beautifully produced and engineered. Two years ago I did a piece called ‘Tribute to Golfrapp’

26 June 2014


Turn on British television at the moment and you pretty much have two choices – football or tennis. That is, for people who have been living under a rock, the World Cup from Brazil, or Wimbledon from, well, Wimbledon.

To kick off (sorry) Wimbledon, here is a little throwaway piece I did. Hope you enjoy the atmosphere, and a particular moment in tennis history.

25 June 2014

Meet Twin Sister

This is Twin Sister, an American band from Long Island. The band formed in 2008 when the five members of Twin Sister came together to work on Vampires With Dreaming Kids. They relocated to Brooklyn where they built a small following. Their EP ‘Color Your Life’ was released on Domino Records in the UK and Infinite Best in the USA. You can find more about the band on their website here.

A bit of trivia – the lead singer, Andrea Estella replaced Leighton Meester as Carrie Bishop in the Kickstarter funded Veronica Mars Movie (2014)

I’m really excited to tell you that I have just started work on a remix of their April 2011 work ‘Meet the Frownies’. I’ll let you know how that works out sometime soon.

23 June 2014

17 June 2014

Stage work in progress – Cinderella

Once upon a time a group of British ex-pats got together and decided that it was a pity that their children were missing out on one of the great British traditions of the festive season – PANTOMIME. Out of this discussion came the decision to put on a performance and so the Secret Panto Society was born. The name was decided upon, not with any intention to keep people out or become some sort of creed but with a genuine desire to surprise and delight that first audience. This first performance took place in 1984 with a production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

At the moment I am in the early stages of working on musical ideas for the 2015 production of Cinderella. Our version will be based in Italy and much as I would love to go into all the details – that would really be giving away the plot. You’ll just have to come and see.


At this early stage my first consideration is to look at the emotional flow of the pantomime. It is important that the audience is taken on an emotional journey during the performance, where they feel uplifted, sad, happy, excited, anxious, etc. These emotions must be carefully controlled not only through the script of the pantomime but also by the use of music and and background ‘atmospherics’. Atmospherics (my name) are the background sounds ranging from low bass drones, to birdsong, to machine hums. Some of these may be subliminal but all of them will add to the production.

Emotion curve

To begin this work I read through the script and draw an emotion curve to show the emotional flow over time.

My favourite emotion curve is based on classical geometry and the Golden Ratio. You find this relationship all around in nature and in classical Greek architecture. Johann Sebastian Bach frequently employed the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci series in his compositions. In very simplistic terms, it means that the major climaxes of his music often mark the 61.8% of the length of a composition and that unique events (such as modulations, cadences, extended harmonies, new voice entrances, or register changes) fall on the divisions of the Fibonacci (who was appropriately Italian) series.

The songs, dances and atmospherics are then chosen to fit this curve, whilst also remaining appropriate for the audience and performers. In the case of this production, as it is based in Italy, all musical choices will attempt to have Italian elements – think Gondolas, canals, carnivals, masks and all things sparkly, glitzy and twinkly.

16 June 2014

Composition templates

Working alone in your studio, unaware of what is happening in the outside world, and then being shocked when you suddenly notice it is three-o-clock in the morning. These events will be very familiar to many of you and like me you will have tried many methods to streamline your workflow. There are many articles which ask about your motivation, inspiration, drive to succeed. Do you practice your art in the right way, using the appropriate tools, during the most optimal hours of the day?

Heck, no, I don’t. My work methods leave much to be desired. So I always try to take steps to improve the situation.

OK, you probably created a template in your DAW so that when you begin a new song you are up-and-ready to go straight away – like entering a studio with all your favourite instruments around you, switched on, and ready to go. However, that may not be enough.

What I realised is that every new piece I worked on proceeded in a hap-hazard, disorganised way – I wanted to do better and at the same time try to learn from my experiences (both good and bad). To do this I created a music composition template where I could record all aspects of the song I was currently working on and keep notes of which parts gave me trouble and which parts delighted me (it could happen).

I searched around for an appropriate and simple way to control and use this template. I tried MS Word, One-Note and a host of other software tools found on-line. Finally I have settled on a method which seems quite simple. In my Evernote account I created a note with a tag called ‘song check-list template’ and every time I start a new piece I copy this template to a new note and add a tag called ‘song checklist’. This way I have a check-list for every piece I work on which can be sent by email or printed or just sits there. The beauty is that it can be found easily because the notes are saved in a separate Notebook called ‘Song project information’. Of course the notes can be searched using Evernote’s powerful search function.

Here is my template. I hope it helps you and would welcome feedback on any method you use.

I am not a true artist. I am sorry.