Music in documentaries or wildlife programmes is in recent years quite big news, I suppose it all started with the collaborations as realised by David Attenborough and composer George Fenton which we were enthralled by from what seems so long ago now. Composers such as Fenton seemed to make an even bigger name for themselves via these types of scores or scores for these types of films and TV shows. Another name that pops up in wildlife programmes on the music side is Sara Class who has written some impressive scores for a handful of shows. In recent years Hans Zimmer has entered the fray as it were writing for the likes of David Attenborough and has composed the theme for Attenborough’s latest collection of programmes that explores the funny, quirky, sad and often brutal world of animals in the wild. But let us not forget the undersea world of Jacques Cousteau which were scored by British composer John Scott, and even epic series such as RUSSLAND, YELLOWSTONE etc, all with wonderfully descriptive and grandiose sounding musical works. So, to the latest release of music from a wildlife series, the show made its debut on BBC one in the UK on Sunday 27th October this year. SEVEN WORLDS, ONE PLANET, has an opening and closing theme composed by Hans Zimmer and Jacob Shea, and a score which is credited to both composers, but I suspect Shea did most of the work for Bleeding Fingers Music.
I have to say that this is a particularly well written score, it is highly melodious and purveys so much emotion. I suppose the key to writing music for films such as this is to underline not only the action on screen or the actions, but also to try and infuse some degree of the animals characters into the work, after all there is no dialogue from the central players, but only narration, music in film is supposed to support and elevate without being heard, but in a wildlife show does it still have to do this, I know it has to support and colour scenes and also give depth and add emotion, but should it be heard. Well I think so.
Remember WILD AFRICA it had a great score by Chris Gunning but the composer was criticised for writing too much music by some, but I did not have a problem with that at all, as the composers music was not only enhancing the images on screen but was also becoming the voice of the animals and the sounds of the desert, prairie etc. I have to admit to not being a fan of these shows, I find it hard to sit through them and yes I know its nature and is in the words of the Lion King song it is The Circle of Life, but if I were there and saw an animal in trouble I would help, wouldn’t you?
WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 22/10/2019 – Programme Name: Seven Worlds, One Planet – TX: n/a – Episode: n/a (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: *General Release – Embargoed until 00.01hrs Tue 22nd October 2019* Sir David Attenborough filming at Stokksnes beach in Iceland for Seven Worlds, One Planet. Social Media Use Unless specified to the contrary below, it is permitted to post the image on social network sites such as Facebook provided they are reduced to 72dpi and no more than 720 x 491 pixels in size and the programme title and full copyright credit. Sir David Attenborough – (C) BBC NHU – Photographer: Alex Board
But this series is not just about survival of the animals its also about the changing environment of our planet and I think asks the question will humans adapt to these changes and survive or simply turn a blind eye and ignore them and ultimately perish. Tens of millions of years ago the earth went through many changes, these changes that basically tore the crust of planet apart shaped the seven continents, each area and landscape or seascape have its own individual climate and its own unique form of wildlife. The programme looks at each continent and the life that established itself on each. It will I think hopefully make us realise just how fragile this earth is and give us a better understanding of it. It could be part of the wake-up call we as humans need, that will poke us in the ribs and say DO SOMETHING. Or maybe we will ignore all the evidence and when it is too late Humans will be heard saying, WHY DID YOU NOT TELL US? As we all disappear into oblivion. The music for this series is wonderfully affecting, as I say it credits Hans Zimmer and Jacob Shea, but for me I think it is probably Shea who contributes the majority of the compositions, probably supervised by Zimmer as there are definite little trademarks and musical nuances present within it that are Zimmer influenced. It is a score that is overflowing with real melody and some beautifully constructed rich and wonderous sounding material.
WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 19/10/2019 – Programme Name: Seven Worlds, One Planet – TX: n/a – Episode: Antartica (No. 1) – Picture Shows: **Embargoed until 0001hrs 19th October 2019** Ep1 Antartica. A young gentoo penguin sporting some of its remaining down feathers in the mohawk style. – (C) BBC NHU – Photographer: Screen grab
Listening to the opening cue on the recording, SEVEN WORLDS ONE PLANET SUITE one cannot fail to be moved. This is a near eight-minute track which is a tantalising and sublime listening experience, plus it is just so emotive and entertaining it can send shivers up one’s spine and bring out those Goosebumps. The theme begins slowly and in a subtle way, it is almost predictable as it gains momentum, but is affecting, the simple but imposing piece grows and develops with the composers adding choir and percussive elements as the strings supported by the woodwind sections carve out the haunting and gloriously majestic four note motif that is the foundation for the central theme. This foundation is built upon and although it is basically a repeated motif is still lavishly enticing and wonderfully hypnotic. Brass is added and makes the piece even more grandiose and appealing, solo voice is also brought into the equation which is literally the icing on the cake making this one of the most impressive pieces of TV music that I have heard in a long while. The score for this series is I think its beating heart and its bared soul, it purveys so much emotion and creates numerous atmospheres and moods.
What we have here is a work that encompasses many styles and sounds, a vibrant plethora of magical, mystical and wonderous sounding compositions that accompany dancing fireflies, warring Musk Ox, Tamarins, Cheetahs, Brown Hyena’s, Puma’s and an array of wonderous sights from all continents. But there is a darker side to the score as in every work for film, it cannot be all sweetness and light after all, that is not the way of the world. The final cue on the recording CONSERVATION is an impressive one, it is mildly apprehensive, even slightly sinister, with the music being performed by both symphonic and synthetic elements, the use of solo cello is beautifully alluring and contains within it a sense of melancholy, as if the earth is asking us for help. This too like the opening track is over seven minutes in duration and although not as thematic initially alters direction and we hear the central four note motif being introduced, this builds and again the percussion booms and the strings soar but briefly bring the recording to its conclusion. The composers have fashioned a score that is hauntingly beautiful and one that collectors I know will adore.
Available on digital platforms, CD available soon from Silva Screen records.