William Hyde

Series composer for The Great British Year

I was exposed to music very early on in life. My family are passionate about music and two relatives: Harry Gregson-Williams and Rupert Gregson-Williams, are both established Hollywood film composers. By the age of eight I had started to learn the cello, piano and how to sing.

I’d never composed for wildlife documentaries before The Great British Year
William Hyde

I’d never composed for wildlife documentaries before The Great British Year. In autumn 2012 I got in contact with the producer James Brickell and after he’d explained the ideas and concept behind the series he suggested I try writing a theme for the Autumn episode.

I wrote a piece for an ensemble of piano and strings with the melody played on flute. I wanted the melody to invoke feelings of sadness as trees become bare and animals prepare for the colder months.

I also wanted the music to reflect the great beauty of autumn, the shades of reds and browns on trees and plants as they begin to shed their leaves.

James loved the piece and commissioned me to compose the opening titles, end credits and a few pieces for each episode. We began by watching the episodes and discussing which scenes could be brought alive with the addition of specifically composed music.

The two scenes that stand out most for me are: the two male sika deer fighting for their lives, and the dragonflies being hunted by hobby falcons.

For the deer I wrote for a large symphony orchestra. I composed an aggressive string ostinato on the cellos and a constant driving feel as the animals battle for their lives.

For the dragonfly sequence the music starts with suspense and tension as they lay their eggs. This develops into a dramatic half-time rhythm as falcons swoop down and begin to hunt.

I really enjoyed composing for the series and feel privileged to have worked with such an amazing team.