Without realizing it you may have experienced the music of composer Tom Howe, if you have caught just one episode of The Great British Bake Off on UK television then its safe to say that you have encountered this talented and versatile composers work, his scores for the series being quirky and entertaining. You may have also been watching the latest series from David Attenborough on the BBC entitled The Mating Game, which is also scored by Tom Howe, the series which is broadcast on Thursday evenings in the UK on BBC 2, is a look into the intimate and sometimes extraordinary habits of Fish, Amphibians, Insects and Mammals in the animal Kingdom when it comes to reproduction of their respective species. The music is at times mischievous and cheeky, emotive, and poignant as well as being wonderfully thematic. The musical scores add much to the series and when watching it is sometimes not possible to view the antics on screen without noticing the gorgeous music which punctuates and gives greater depth and atmospherics to the series, but maybe that is just me or other film and TV music fans, because we inherently listen out for the score and how it sounds plus how it works. Recently Silva Screen records sent out a sampler of the music to reviewers, this sampler contains just the tip of the iceberg musically of what will follow in the next week or so, the label in association with the BBC will release five compact discs, each disc containing music from individual episodes in the The Mating Game series.
I have been watching this fascinating series and as well as being enlightened on the mating habits and rituals of various forms of wildlife have also been enchanted by the music from the series, so my review of Tom Howe’s sores is based not just upon the audio as in the sampler thus far but also upon the way in which the music compliments and enhances the images on screen. Music for wildlife documentaries or series has in the last three decades become more high profile, George Fenton composed some great epic sounding scores for series such as The Blue Planet, and Hans Zimmer worked on episodes of Seven Worlds One Planet and let’s not forget Sara Class and her beautiful scores for the series Africa.
Tom Howe’s scores for The Mating Game are superb with the composer providing this series with music that encompasses every emotion imaginable, his scores at times being filled with drama, oozing emotion and always supportive and entertaining. It’s a fine line that the composer treads on series such as this, because they could very easily just unbalance things by being to heavy handed or maybe the music being scored to loudly.
I think the composer in this case has achieved the perfect balance, because at times when need the music is forefront but in most scenarios is a background to the proceedings on screen, as well as providing support for the images the composer also has to be conscious of the narration that will be on the film, so invariably will underscore this also, so scoring a documentary type film is possibly more difficult and more involved than writing for a feature film. Howe has done this on The Mating Game adding musical colours and textures to it, fashioning delicate interludes and sections and nuances that posses a fragile yet vibrant persona, and even if at times one is aware of the music it never overwhelms or distracts the viewers attention from the subject matter being displayed always supporting and allowing the narration to flow without drowning it out. The series has been marvelous and one of the key factors in its appeal and its success is the music.
It’s an usual step for a recording label to issue compact discs nowadays of a wildlife series, and for Silva Screen to issue five from the same series speaks volumes about the scores and must tell you just how extraordinary and attractive this music is. Watch out for the releases they should be released very soon, and I think that they will also be available on digital platforms, in the meantime try and experience the series, its on Thursday nights on BBC 2 and repeated on Sunday afternoons on BBC 1, plus is available on catch up TV and BBC I player. Both the series and the music are highly recommended.