Cumnock and Ben Wyvis

Playing the Skyline, Series 1 Episode 3 of 3

On old nautical charts as well as the bird's eye view there is often a coastal profile - the outline of the land seen from the point of view of a sailor approaching it. Radio producer Julian May was struck by the musicality of these, the undulations of hills are melodic, the spacing of landmarks - trees, church spires - rhythmic. Musicians could, he thought, take the line dividing sky from land, place it on manuscript paper, and play the skyline.

Half a dozen prominent musicians are intrigued by this, including jazz musician Courtney Pine, Anna Meredith, who was commissioned to create a piece for the Last Night of the Proms, Welsh pianist Gwilym Simcock and Kizzy Crawford eighteen, of Bajan heritage, a singer and songwriter at home in English and Welsh.

For Radio 4 Tim Marlow presents three programmes, in England, Wales and Scotland, in which two musicians look at the skyline, talk about their initial responses, then create a piece of music each - playing their skyline. He hears how they are getting along then the musicians, Tim (and Radio 4's listeners) hear for the finished pieces, and consider what they have made.

This final programme bucks the format somewhat to reflect the cultural realities of Scotland - lowland/highland, rural/industrial and Gaelic/English (or Scots). So James MacMillan plays, with help from local schoolchildren and musicians from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the skyline Cumnock, the pit village in Ayrshire where he spent his childhood. Julie Fowlis, drawing on Gaelic poetry, traces in music the skyline of Ben Wyvis in Easter Ross.

Producers: Benedict Warren and Julian May.

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43 minutes

Last on

Mon 28 Jul 2014 21:30

Related topics

James MacMillan's drawing of the Cumnock skyline

James MacMillan's drawing of the Cumnock skyline

Julie Fowlis's drawing of the Cumnock skyline

Julie Fowlis's drawing of the Cumnock skyline

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