Apollo Sound CDs
Derek Foster discusses two CDs of Carey Blyton’s film and television music
Modus Music News no 16, December 2003
Your assignment: write a 30-second piece of film background music, that immediately establishes a mood, has a musically coherent shape, and perhaps tells a small story, mirroring the events on screen, often using only a few available instruments (flute, harp and cello for example).
An interesting task, and it is fascinating to see how Carey Blyton (one-time Visiting Professor of Film Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama) approached it in his many and varied commissions. Apollo Sound have recently released the first two of four CDs of Carey Blyton’s film and TV music, price £12.75 each [in 2003], including postage and packing.
When the CDs arrived through my letter box, Doctor Who and the Silurians was being given a repeat airing on UK Gold, so I watched an episode, with its suitably creepy background music. What was that very deep wind instrument?—oh, contrabass clarinet. The strangely buzzy wind sound, and oddly familiar ‘tuned gong’ effect?—ah yes, crumhorn and prepared piano! The main musical material of this Doctor Who series is represented on five tracks of Carey Blyton – The Film Production Music (APSCD225). There are 58 tracks altogether, each lasting from 15 seconds to several minutes, of music from documentary films and TV plays, instrumented from solo harpsichord to large ensemble, the instrumentation annotated in the comprehensive booklet.
In a similar format, Carey Blyton – Film and Television Music (APSCD224) has publishers’ commissions for film music (from ensemble to full orchestra) and music for TV commercials, mainly from the 1960s (for other varied small ensembles), which perhaps set a mood even more precisely.
These are fascinating examples of the instrumentator’s craft, and of Blyton’s music; he found many of the ideas too good to waste, and they were incorporated into concert works. Some surprises from a ‘traditional’ composer too—12-note pieces make an appearance.