Entertainment & Arts

How to compose music for horses

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro Image copyright PA
Image caption Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro after being awarded her gold medal

The composer behind the music that helped Charlotte Dujardin win her third Olympic gold medal had admitted the performance was "nerve-racking" to watch.

Tom Hunt used Brazilian beats for the piece for the individual dressage event in Rio - having put together rousing British themes like Land of Hope and Glory for Dujardin's London 2012 victory.

He told BBC Radio 4's Front Row he was "very surprised" other artists did not take the same approach of using the host country as inspiration - and admitted he is "not specifically horsey" himself.

Hunt, who has been working with Dujardin since 2010, said of his introduction to the world of composing music for horses: "I studied music at university and kind of fell into it, like a fluke really.

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Media captionComposer tells how he wrote the music for Charlotte Dujardin's winning routine in Rio

"I saw some dressage to music on television. I personally thought that the music could fit better to the horses, so my idea was to compose original music for the riders - and that was the starting point for me."

He said it was "always a good experience" working with Dujardin - and her horse Valegro - as "she knows exactly what she wants and has a keen ear for detail".

"The first watch through was pretty stressful," Hunt said of Dujardin's most recent gold medal-winning performance.

"There was so much detail going on and I just hoped she could have a clean test and clean run through. So many factors have to come together.

"It was very nerve-racking to watch. But she actually rode it perfectly."

Image copyright Tom Hunt
Image caption Tom Hunt with Charlotte Dujardin

The composition process began with Hunt watching film of Dujardin's choreography.

He said they were clear from the outset that they wanted to do Brazilian music for the Rio Games. "The London Games went so well celebrating British music, so it seemed the obvious thing to do."

He added: "I would have thought there would be more Brazilian music out there. It was probably good, because it meant our music stood out more.

"Maybe it will be a trend that does come eventually."

Front Row is on BBC Radio 4 on 18 August at 19:15 BST - the episode will later be available on the Front Row website.


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