Uncovering the work of the film composer in BBC Sound of Cinema

Friday 26 July 2013, 14:25

Jon Jacob Jon Jacob Editor, About the BBC Blog

Tagged with:

I have a confession. I've never watched Citizen Kane. I've also never watched The Ipcress File, nor Chariots of Fire. And there were moments during the press launch for the BBC's pan-network Sound of the Cinema yesterday when I felt uncomfortable about that. Such key moments in movie-making history have passed me by. 
Yet, Kane, Ipcress and Chariots are not entirely unfamiliar films to me: their soundtracks have already done the initial introductions embedding micro-melodies packed full of musical flavour into my subconscious. Little wonder then, it's an album of music by John Barry I'm listening to as I write. 
The BBC's Sound of Cinema celebration comes hot on the heels of the BBC Proms in September offering an exploration of the fine art of the film composing, reminding us that the very thing which helps secure a film's legacy has its roots in the sometimes mysterious alchemy in film-making: the collaboration between director and composer. 
The month-long celebration begins on BBC Four with a series fronted by silent film composer Neil Land who during the launch gave a taster of his obvious passion for the genre, annotating the opening sequence of Citizen Kane, explaining why it was important the opening title board doesn't have any music under-pinning. That followed by a near-second by second analysis of how music was used to enhance the visual storytelling and it Neil had unwittingly gone beyond his remit: not only was he advertising his own BBC Four series, but also leaving me in desperate need of a rainy Sunday afternoon during which I could settle down for a matinee viewing of the film. 
Running concurrently with Land's BBC Four Sound of Cinema: The Music that Made the Movies, the cinema celebration crops up in a five-part 6 Music series, in The Story of Hip Hop in the Movies and on Radio 2 in Mark Kermode's The Soundtrack of My Life. The Asian Network focuses on how Bollywood Music has featured over the decades. 
But as with any press launch, the hook for the resulting piece to be written only really emerges when names pop out from an A4 page of text. On Radio 3 Tom Service will talk with composers about their work with film directors. Among them, one George Fenton who for people of a certain age is responsible for the soundtrack not just of films, but a series of even more potent musical inventions which collectively make up an evocative collection of TV themes from the 1980s. Who couldn't feel energised by the prospect of a new day at the end of Fenton's BBC Breakfast Time signature tune as it effortlessly trips through seemingly endless key changes - http://youtu.be/F6dnpxXzEyo?t=21s - or fail to pay attention at the sound of the Six O'Clock News opening credits in 1988? http://youtu.be/Ng2wT9zPiSk?t=2m46s or the One for that matter - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goAwGs8TP6w. Or was I the only one? 
George's TV oeuvre doesn't feature in the Sound of Cinema celebration (for obvious reasons) but for more information on what does, take a look at the programme information accompanying the BBC Media Centre press release. 

I have a confession. I've never watched Citizen Kane. I've also never watched The Ipcress File, nor Chariots of Fire. And there were moments during the press launch for the BBC's pan-network Sound of the Cinema yesterday when I felt uncomfortable about that. Such key moments in movie-making history have passed me by. 

And yet, the very reason Kane, Ipcress and Chariots are to be featured in the BBC Sound of Cinema celebration in September is an illustration as to why these films are not entirely unfamiliar films to me: their soundtracks have already done the initial introductions embedding micro-melodies packed full of musical flavour into my subconscious. They are tunes which have stood alone on the playlists of Radio 2 and others as to give the tracks lives of their own. Little wonder then, it's an album of music by John Barry I'm listening to as I write. 

The BBC's Sound of Cinema celebration comes hot on the heels of the BBC Proms in September, offering an exploration of the fine art of the film composing and reminding us that the very thing which helps secure a film's legacy has its roots in the sometimes mysterious alchemy of film-making: the collaboration between director and composer. 

Don Letts, Neil Brand and Rhianna Dhillon Don Letts, Neil Brand and Rhianna Dhillon

The month-long celebration begins on BBC Four with a series fronted by silent film composer Neil Brand (pictured centre, above) who during yesterday's launch gave a taster of his obvious passion for the genre, annotating the opening sequence of Citizen Kane, explaining why it was important the opening title board doesn't have any music under-pinning. That followed by a near-second by second analysis of how music was used to enhance the visual storytelling and it Neil had unwittingly gone beyond his remit: not only was he advertising his own BBC Four series, but also leaving me in desperate need of a rainy Sunday afternoon during which I could settle down for a matinee viewing of Citizen Kane

Running concurrently with Brand's BBC Four Sound of Cinema: The Music that Made the Movies, the cinema celebration crops up in a five-part 6 Music series, in The Story of Hip Hop in the Movies and on Radio 2 in Mark Kermode's The Soundtrack of My Life. The Asian Network focuses on how Bollywood Music has featured over the decades. 

But as with any press launch, the hook for the resulting piece to be written only really emerges when names pop out from an A4 page of text. On Radio 3 Tom Service will talk with composers about their work with film directors. And among them, one George Fenton who for people of a certain age is responsible for the soundtrack not just of films, but a series of even more potent musical inventions which collectively make up an evocative collection of TV themes from the 1980s.

Who couldn't feel energised by the prospect of a new day by the end of Fenton's BBC Breakfast Time signature tune as it effortlessly trips through seemingly endless key changes, or fail to pay unwavering attention at the sound of the Six O'Clock News opening credits in 1988Or 'the One', for that matter. Or was I the only one? 

George's TV oeuvre doesn't feature in the Sound of Cinema celebration (for obvious reasons), but for full information on what does, take a look at the media pack accompanying the BBC Media Centre press release. Broadcast dates and times will be released nearer the time. The BBC staff magazine Ariel also ran a story about the press launch. 

Jon Jacob is Editor, About the BBC Website and Blog.

Tagged with:

Comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
 

This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

Previous
100 days as W1 Manager

Wednesday 24 July 2013, 13:26

Next
Ten Things #22: Birthdays

Thursday 1 August 2013, 14:15

About this Blog

This blog explains what the BBC does and how it works. We link to some other blogs and online spaces inside and outside the corporation. The blog is edited by Jon Jacob.

Follow About the BBC on Twitter

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?

External links about the BBC

BBC Sport experiences record-breaking online traffic in June (Digital Spy)
"It beats the previous record of 73.6 million, which was set during the London 2012 Olympics"

BBC helps produce First World War Moocs (Times Higher Education)
"Not only are we proud that the BBC is able to contribute content and co-create the courses…but it also brings that expertise in storytelling"

Jo Brand to front Bake-Off spin-off (Chortle)

Bruce Forsyth returning to screens in BBC variety show (Digital Spy)

Evan Davis to replace Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight (Telegraph)
"it will be an adventure and a challenge, and I hope the viewers will be happy with the result"

MediaCity leads to Salford becoming the UK's property hotspot (Guardian)
"MediaCity and incoming BBC employees have kept Salford going when the market was bad, said one agent"

BBC annual report: Tony Hall announces £374m in annual savings (Independent)

Doctor Who: series 8 looks like a scorcher (Guardian)
"Cybermen sizzle as Peter Capaldi films BBC sci-fi series at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral in the middle of a heatwave"

Sophie Raworth: I get far more work now I am over 40 (Telegraph)
"News presenter Sophie Raworth claims many of her bosses are now female and ageism is no longer an issue for women in the BBC"

Kids tv leads BBC in 'going green' (Ariel)

Naga Munchetty given permanent place on BBC Breakfast sofa following Susanna Reid’s depart (Daily Express)

BBC’s Dominic Coles joins Discovery Networks (Guardian)
"Corporation’s director of operations to be US-based pay-TV giant’s finance and operations chief across western Europe"

World Cup Final 2014: BBC Triumphs Over ITV In TV Ratings War, Over 9 Million More Viewers Tune In (Huffington Post)

BBC Chief Tony Hall Promises a ‘Competition Revolution’ (Variety)

Future Media roles to move to Salford (Ariel)

Wimbledon final watched by 10 million (Guardian)
"Novak Djokovic victory over Roger Federer takes 54% share on BBC1, but no match for Andy Murray’s win last year"

TV News celebrates its 60th birthday (Ariel)

Doctor Who: Frank Cottrell Boyce is a genius, says Steven Moffat (Digital Spy)
"BBC One has confirmed that Frank Cottrell Boyce will script an episode of Doctor Who."

Danger Mouse remake will see some male characters returning as females (Guardian)
"CBBC’s Cheryl Taylor promises show ‘truthful to the essence of Danger Mouse’ but with fresh ideas"

BBC appoints Matthew Postgate as chief technology officer (Guardian)
"Current controller of research and development was part of the management team that created iPlayer and built mobile services"

Radio 5 Live: Presenters Richard Bacon, Victoria Derbyshire and Shelagh Fogarty among names leaving BBC radio station (Mirror)

Does Mary Berry Cooks mark a breakthrough for older women on TV?Does Mary Berry Cooks mark a breakthrough for older women on TV? (Guardian)"What results is an unapologetically old-fashioned TV show with a presenter who makes no attempt to disguise when she was born"

Last updated Friday 25 July 2014

Blogs from across the BBC

Selected by the About the BBC Blog team.

McIlroy not the only winner at first digital and social Open [College of Journalism]
Connected Studio: Coding for Teenagers Build Studio [Internet]
The Grimsby Story-Blog by Fusion Youth Theatre [Performing Arts Fund]
BBC Introducing at the 2014 Manchester Jazz Festival [Radio 3]
Using radio to respond to Ebola in Sierra Leone [Media Action]

Connected Red Buta first look at the new service on Smart TVs [Internet]