Tag Archives: BBC


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.  


After learning the piano and drums from a very young age, composer Segun Akinola later turned his attention to composition, graduating from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with first-class honours and the National Film and Television School with an MA in Composing for Film and Television. He was a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit in 2017, with the composers other works including the scoring of BBC Two’s landmark four-part series Black and British: A Forgotten History, written and presented by Historian David Olusoga OBE. Regularly collaborating on BBC projects, he completed the scores for the major three-part series The Human Body: Secrets of Your Life Revealed and two-part series Expedition Volcano, both for BBC Two and PBS. He is better known for his music in the latest series of Doctor Who, series 11 and 12, which feature the first female Doctor, portrayed by Jodie Whittaker. 

Can I start with series 11 of DR.WHO which is when you began to score the show, How did you become involved on the show and did you like so many of us watch the series when you were younger, and were you given any specific instructions as to what style of music you should compose for it?

Chris Chibnall was looking for a new composer for the show and had come across my work, so we started to talk from there. I had not watched the series, but I’d always been very aware of its musical history, particularly the ground-breaking work of Delia Derbyshire and the Radiophonic Workshop. My remit was to start from a clean slate musically, bring my personality to it and to take it in a new direction.

 Are any of your family musical in any way, and can you remember the first piece of music that you took notice of?

My sisters both learned instruments during their teenage years and my mum always sings around the house but that’s it really! What I can say is that my family love music and it’s always been a big part of everyday life. Sadly, I have no idea what the first piece of music I took notice of was, but I do know that I always enjoyed it.

When you began to work on DR. WHO were you aware of the style of the previous scores and was it a little unnerving creating a new arrangement for that familiar theme?

I was very aware of all the music that had come beforehand. For the main score, I had so much creative freedom to come up with a new sound world, which was a lot of fun. The main theme was of course daunting to tackle but, once I’d figured out the overall sound world for the series, it made the main theme much easier to approach.

Do producers use temp tracks at all on TV shows to let the composer know what kind of music they want if so, do you find this practise helpful or distracting?

Yes, they definitely use temp music which can be incredibly helpful and can also be a little limiting but it depends on the particular situation and I’ve certainly experienced both. Fortunately, I’ve found that a lot of the people I work with really do see it as a guide and they’re very happy going in a different direction that works for the storytelling or, are happy to do something that fits better with their overall desire for the score, or, are happy to take general ideas from the temp music without becoming too attached to it.

The scores for the series 11 and 12 I think have been amazing, so atmospheric and they really do give the series storylines a great lift and create an even higher level of intensity and atmospherics, what size orchestra do you tend to utilise for the series and what percentage of the instrumentation is made up of electronic or synthetic elements?

With the change of sound world that arrived with series 11, there was also a change in approach. As the stories each week took place in different locations and time periods, the intention was also for the music to change with the story whilst maintaining a core, recognisable series sound. As such, the instrumentation changes almost every episode! There’s usually at least one live instrument in the score unless the specific musical approach for an episode really doesn’t call for it and an orchestra is only used on select episodes too. I’ve created a number of bespoke sounds, synths and atmos that are used throughout the series so there’s a healthy blend of acoustic instruments, synths (both created from synthetic and acoustic sound sources) and electro-acoustic experimental elements too.

I noticed that even when there is an action cue on the soundtrack, it still maintains a level of thematic content, do you think it is important for films and TV shows to have a theme or themes that the audience can identify with and do you think that the main title as we knew it is now a thing of the past in movies?

Thematic material is (generally) very useful in the storytelling but that doesn’t mean that a theme has to be melodic. It could be a sound, a motif, a harmonic progression, a texture – anything goes! The most important question is: how can the music best serve the storytelling? A lot of the time, themes will be part of the answer but that’s not always the case.

What in your opinion is the purpose of music in film and TV?

At its core, it’s quite simple: the purpose is to help tell the storytelling being depicted on screen in the best way possible in conjunction with any other sound e.g. sound design.

When you are asked to work on a project do you like to see the film or show a number of times to allow you to become familiar with it and then start to figure out what style of music is required and also where it should be placed?

This depends on when I’ve been brought onto a project, but I don’t tend to watch it a great deal of times before I start writing. At the moment, I generally get brought on early enough to write some sketches based on the script or on conversations with the director and then when there’s a rough cut ready, I can watch that through and have a spotting session with the director and possibly the editor and/or producer too, to figure out where music is needed and what it should be doing.

There is a cue entitled MI6 in series 12, which sounds a little 007, was this something that you did consciously, or did it just develop as the scoring process progressed?

It was very intentional! That particular piece is from the first episode of series 12 which was titled ‘Spyfall’ so it of course required an equally Bond-influenced score throughout which was enormous fun!

Do you score the episodes for DR WHO in sequence, and how long approx: does it take to score an episode?

This depends on the production order and when the edits get completed. Sometimes I follow the order they are aired in and other times I’m jumping around the series. As for how much time it takes, this can vary quite a lot and it’s very much a question of how much time I’ve been given! For series 12, I was usually working on different stages of two or three episodes across a two-week period on average, but usually that time shrinks a bit the further into the series we get.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 15/12/2019 – Programme Name: Doctor Who Series 12 – TX: n/a – Episode: Launch (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: TARDIS INTERIOR **STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 15/12/2019 00:00:01** Tardis Interior – (C) BBC – Photographer: James Pardon

How do you work out your musical ideas, maybe straight to manuscript or via PC or keyboard, and is there a particular routine that you have when scoring something, ie; main title to end title, central theme first and build the remainder of score around this etc?

Because of time limitations, I generally work straight into my computer. If I have time and I’m working on quite a traditional or classical-based score or theme, then I’ll sketch it out first and that may be on manuscript paper but that’s quite rare at the moment. The approach I take depends on what I’m working on so I don’t have a routine as such but I do like to figure out the central theme, idea or whatever the heart of the score will be, before I get into the rest of the score.

Do you work on the orchestrations yourself or is this sometimes not possible due to schedules, also do you conduct at all or do you prefer to have a conductor so you can monitor the scoring process from the booth?

With the time constraints and everything else to keep on top of in this line of work, an orchestrator is very handy! Orchestration is incredibly important to me and I write into my computer exactly as I’d write on manuscript paper, so all the same detail is there. I work with a great orchestrator who also conducts my scores, this way he already knows the music and my intentions and I get to sit in the booth very much with a composer-producer hat on rather than a composer-conductor hat on. I really enjoy conducting and take every opportunity to do it but when I’m recording, I prefer to be in the booth.

What artists or composers would you say have influenced you or inspired you and was writing music for film and TV something that you always looked at as a career?

I’m very influenced by a wide range of artists, composers and producers so there’s a very, very long list. I think some of my key influences are Earth, Wind and Fire, Quincy Jones, Hans Zimmer, Brian Tyler, John Williams, John Powell, Xenakis, Walter Afanasieff, Leonard Bernstein, Holst, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Foo Fighters, Snarky Puppy and many, many others. I was particularly influenced by arranger-producers so from a young age I wanted to be a record producer but, as I watched more films and read more and more books, that slowly morphed into film/TV composition, at which point it definitely became my focus.

You have been presenting a show on Sundays for Scala radio which is called TV ON THE RADIO it’s been brilliant to listen to, do you compile these shows and when will you be returning as I think it’s now finished?

It’s so good to be able to celebrate the brilliant work of many composers, it’s a real joy. I do compile the music along with the producer and we work really hard to put together a list of some of the best music around from many different TV shows and composers in different stages of their career. For now, I’m just grateful I was asked to come back for a second series!

What are you working on at the moment, and has the pandemic affected your work schedule a great deal?

Yes, the pandemic definitely affected my work schedule as projects were temporarily put on hold but thankfully things have picked up again and I’m currently working on the Doctor Who festive special and a feature-length documentary.

COUNT DRACULA-2020. part two.

 Again I stress that reviews are one persons view a personal opinion, and are in no way correct all of the time, so here is my own personal opinion of the BBC 2020 production of DRACULA, part two  which aired on Thursday January 2nd 2020.  


Well after episode one of DRACULA on the BBC new year’s day night if you know what I mean, I kind of vowed not to return to it, well I lied as I had recorded the series, so as I was up late and had nothing to do the next day and really could not sit through MRS BROWNS BOYS or THE SHOPPING SHOW on the other side. I thought ummmm what shall I do? Play monopoly, no it is no fun when you play yourself, Ah,I know, chess, Yes! Umm no actually can’t do that as I remembered I had lost the black Queen about a year ago… Ummm, I know let’s look for the black Queen,,,, no…Lets watch the Grinch, wait stop what am I saying? I give in, Ok, roll DRACULA part two. Now as much as I was unsure and shall I say a tad negative about episode one I still entered into the viewing of part two with a fully open mind and also with some hope that maybe episode two would outshine episode one, let’s face it, It would not have to be that good to even do that would it? (sorry be positive, be positive). Ok lets see whats going on, right Sister Agnes is with Dracula in a walled room looks like a room or even a cell of sorts in castle Dracula, so hang on how did she get there a why is she still alive? The vampire lord surely has not been merciful, No, of course not he is using her in the same way as he used Johnathan, oops sorry Johnny Harker, living off of her blood, feeding on her and all the time he grows stronger and more Bond like in appearance, so Agnes becomes weaker and gaunt in appearance. Is this right?



I think it is, this I think is a good side to the story line or the adaptation, we see the Count becoming healthier and more agile as he drains a victim of the life force blood, and by the same token the victim, becomes more fragile and less able to do things or even think straight, Agnes even loses a chess game because of his hypnotic charms, (hang on chess game, get the black Queen for me and then I can turn this off). However, Sister Agnes is one mean nun and has an iron like resistance against the vampire’s ways. The Count and the Nun sit and face each other across the chess board, at one time one thinks they are actually friends as things are so civilised. The vampire kind of flirting with his female company relating to the Nun what is or what has happened on the voyage, The second episode of the Gatiss and Moffat penned DRACULA is set onboard a ship, and yes we know in Stokers book there was a ship and a voyage from Transylvania to England, in fact to Whitby, where the Count has purchased a residence in the form of Carfax Abbey.


In the book the Count methodically and totally wipes out the crew, in this second episode, it is a little different, and why not its an adaptation after all, the clue being in BASED upon Stokers novel, so that’s how they do it they take a classic horror story and then look at it, take bits out add bits to it and even totally change it, if you had come in mid-way through this episode you would have been forgiven for thinking it was a TV series or show based upon CLUEDO or something that Agatha Christie had cooked up, it was basically a Who Dunnit, but a mystery that was not really a mystery, as we as a viewer have the upper hand as we know who the murderer is.( get the attention of the cast)…..psst….

“It’s the tall dark debonair nobleman in the black cloak, who sits in the dinning room but never eats or drinks, obviously he got a package deal and not fully inclusive”.

But seriously, the second episode turned into this farcical mystery, filled with people from all walks of life that eventually discover that it is actually Dracula that has gathered them there, and is disposing of them one by one as a kind of dry (forgive the pun) run for when he arrives in England. But things don’t go all the Count’s way, and he eventually is dispatched by burning at the hands of a Van Helsing, (bond theme riff please). Agatha Van Helsing. So, Dracula is set on fire and he dives over the side of the ship into a fog shrouded sea. So double wammy then vampires don’t like water or running water I am told, or is that something from Hammer rather than Stoker, great that’s it then, all done vampire dispatched let’s go! Umm, No hang on a stake wielding minute. That should be it, that should be the end, but we all know its not, because there is still 30 mins to go.

Again seriously, I mean come on guys really. Anyway its ends up with Dracula returning to the ship, in fact he had never left, he dispatches the Captain, the remainder of the crew have escaped in a lifeboat, and then sets about Van Helsing, but unbeknown to the vampire the Captain lives and both him and Agnes have prepared a surprise for the Count in the form of an explosion that will send the ship to the bottom of the sea. Van Helsing and the Captain are dying anyway, so what have they to lose, too late the count realises that Agnes is attempting to distract him, and the ship explodes and sinks, watched by the remaining crew members in the lifeboat. We see Agnes sinking into the depths and also the coffin of Dracula too heading to the seabed. Then the Count emerges from his coffin and walks on the seabed and eventually makes shore, as he looks around he sees the outline of Carfax Abbey, but it is in ruins, then in a surprise move a spotlight is placed upon the Count as cars screech along the beach and stop in front of him lights flashing and helicopters above him, a female walks towards the Count, “Welcome to England Count Dracula, What took you so long”?




It is the familiar figure of Agnes Van Helsing we see, in this twist in the story’s tale. So Gatiss and Moffat have transported Dracula into the present, or at least into a modern-day Whitby. Did you see that coming, no, nor did I. And shades of the end of the Tim Burton version of PLANET OF THE APES. So, Dracula walks among us again, but a word of caution, remember what happened when someone else tried to put the dark lord into a contemporary setting, yes, his reign was short lived.
We will see the outcome tonight my children.

I will mention that the music by David Arnold and Michael Price became more apparent in episode two, and I picked out a few well written and well placed themes. I am looking forward to the release of the score, and also a quick note, the BBC are not the only ones to blame here Netflix too had a hand in it.

Maurizio Malagnini.

Maurizio Malagnini, is one of the most talented composers working in TV and feature film music at this time. He was recognized as Breakthrough composer by MMI earlier this month and he has just been named as Breakthrough composer of the year by THE INTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS ASSOCIATION. CONGRATULATIONS MAESTRO.


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What would you say is the purpose of music in film ?

I think that music in film is a component of the narrative and it has the purpose to tell the story. I think that music can go beyond what we see in the visuals and beyond what the characters can say with words bringing human warmth and depth to the characters on the screen. I believe that music can help the audience to connect immediately with a story and make a story close to the heart of the audience. I support the idea that a great score can transport the audience effortlessly back in time or in the most remote place of the universe and that music can bridge the gap between the pictures on the screen and the audience.

Are you from a family background that was musical in any way ?

Yes, my father was a professor of Italian and Latin literature and my mother was teaching English. My father had a collection of vinyl’s of recordings conducted by Toscanini and that was my first door to classical music when I was a kid.
Somehow I do think that my father’s passion for literature has translated in my passion for music: I don’t think of film scoring as a form of entertainment but I do think that it is possible to tell a story with music in a subtle way, with delicacy and elegance like you would do in poetry.

Do you have a set way of working or a routine when scoring a motion picture, do you like to begin with the core theme and maybe build the remainder of the score around this, or do you maybe tackle the larger cues first if the movie calls for them ?

I do think it is important to go straight to the “heart of the movie” and understand which is the scene that will define the entire score. I feel that when a composer captures the soul of the movie, and the themes are there than the entire score becomes more consistent because every idea is part of a bigger plan. So I do start from one of the main sequences that often are at the end of the film, and then I write all the longer cues without dialogue and I usually end with the less exposed and shorter cues. If there is a title sequence, like for example in Peter and Wendy I tend to compose this at the end, exactly how Rossini and most Opera composers would do with an Overture.

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What musical education did you receive and did you focus upon one particular instrument whilst studying or a specific area of music?

I studied for 12 years in music Conservatoire in Italy, focusing on Symphonic Composition with 9 years of Piano as a secondary subject. One of the elements that has really shaped my technique has been studying Counterpoint and Fugue for 3 years. I find it quite amusing to tell the story of my final composition exam: as was tradition I was locked by the professors in a room for 36 hours and asked to compose 3 variations for orchestra on a theme that the professors gave me there on the spot. I remember the room was empty, all I had was just the piano, music paper, a pencil, a rubber and a bed. That was the same exam that composers used to do since the beginning of the 19th century in Italian Conservatoires. I know they have stopped doing that exam just a few years after I graduated. I then moved to London to study a Master at the Royal College of Music. That was an important moment of my life because I focused on film music and from that moment I started to work on my style and on my personal sound.


One of your recent projects was the wonderful score for PETER AND WENDY which was screened on ITV on Boxing day last year, how did you become involved with the project and did the director or producers have any set ideas about what style of music should be utilised?

I had already worked with the director Diarmuid Lawrence a few years ago, on my first British drama, The Body Farm.
When execs heard my music for “Muddle Earth” and for my Symphonic Suite “Running In The Clouds” they decided I was the right composer to help realise their vision. Diarmuid is a fantastic director to work with, he had the idea to have an orchestral score for the film and he created the temp track in collaboration with the super talented editor David Head. I knew David very well because he was on both The Body Farm and The Paradise. The producers Christian Baute and Stewart Mackinnon have also been fantastic creative collaborators.

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How many times do you like to see a movie before you begin to get any firm ideas about what music it requires and where it should be placed to best serve the production ?

This can vary from time to time and level of connection that I have with the film. In the case of The Paradise I have started to write ideas that were quite important for the score several months before I have actually seen the film. This is because in that case I have started working on the script and many of those ideas have made it in the final film. In the case of Peter and Wendy I felt really moved by the film and it was love at first sight: I composed “I Believe in fairies” while watching the film for the first time! It’s a good idea to have a grand Piano next to the television when you are watching a film for the first time!
I think that the ideas become firm only after dialogue with the director, so it is important to start from the bigger themes, like when you are building a house you start from the foundation.
One of the main challenges for the music was to be able to create the sensation of flying that is at the heart of Peter Pan’s story and so the first cue I have played to the Director and Producers was “The Flight To Neverland”. When I played it to Stewart he told me: ”If this is not like flying I don’t know what flying is!”…he loved it!

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THE PARADISE is an episodic series, when working on this and CALL THE MIDWIFE do you score the episodes in the order that they will be aired, also do you score them individually ?

Yes, I score the episodes in order and individually. I see every episode like a film and I write new themes for each episode. I have just completed the music for Call The Midwife 5 and that was a total of 9 hours and 15 minutes of film!
For these shows I have the luxury of recording each single piece of music with the orchestra and I think this is really important for developing the music together with the story and the characters.

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Do you perform on any of your scores ?

Yes, I do play the piano in all of them.

Do you or have you ever been on location for a project that you are scoring ?

I love to go on the set! It is fun and I think that it is a good idea to capture the vibe of the movie before getting a rough cut. I went on location when they were filming the first scenes of The Paradise and that helped me a lot to shape the style I wanted to give to the music. I have been on set also for Call The Midwife and most of the times I play my music to the producer Annie Tricklebank in her office at Longcross Studios where the show is shot.

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Have you any preferences between recording studios and orchestras, and what are the differences between recording here in the UK and in Europe ?

I have had a fantastic experience at Air Studios in London where I recorded The Paradise, Call The Midwife and Peter and Wendy. It is in my opinion the warmest and richest room in the world for recording an orchestra. In addition at Air Studios people is really friendly and you realise that since the first minute you enter the door. I also love a new studio in London called Masterchord Studio, where since a couple of years I am recording the piano and overdubs and doing all of my mixing.

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I have recorded my music in the UK and Los Angeles. I have had an extraordinary experience with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, who premiered my Symphonic Suite “Running In The Clouds” and performed my first BBC score, the music for the series “Muddle Earth” and a fantastic experience also with the BBC Concert Orchestra who has performed my score for “The Paradise”.

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Do you conduct at all, or do you find it is more constructive for you to supervise the scoring process from the recording booth ?

I find that it is more constructive for me to stay in the booth. I would conduct if I had more recording time, but I must be very efficient and I must get a lot done in a very short amount of time. For Peter and Wendy for example I had to record the entire score in only 11 hours and I had the complete Symphonic Orchestra for the biggest cues only for 3 hours.

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Do you orchestrate all of your music for film and TV, and do you think that orchestration is just as important as the composition of the music

My heart is the orchestra but I love experimenting with new sounds and synths! I think that the Orchestration is very important and I do most of my orchestration while composing. I feel that many composers are too concerned about how to create new sounds and they loose contact with the story telling. You don’t need to invent a language to be a poet. You just need to select the right words of an existing language and you need to make it with style, and most importantly, you must have something to say.
I have created a workflow that allows me to be a pencil and paper composer and orchestrate my music but still creating with the computer very detailed demos for producers and directors. So I do orchestrate and arrange all of my music in detail and my orchestrator Jehan Stefan helps me to prepare the final scores: he is a great musician and an incredibly hard worker and in the last 6 years he has worked on my side on over 40 hours of films that I have scored. Furthermore my conductor is Jeff Atmajian and he brings on board the incredible experience he has gained orchestrating for some of the top Hollywood Composers on more than 200 movies.

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Have you a favourite film score of TV soundtrack of your own or by another composer ?

My favourite Film Score is Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso. I remember being deeply moved while watching the last scene and that moment changed my life and made me think I wanted to be a film composer and I wanted to be able to have that same impact on an audience: I felt that last sequence of kisses in Cinema Paradiso was something magical.

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My favourite TV soundtrack is a score by Ennio Morricone for a Mini-Series released in 1988 called “The Secret Of The Sahara”: it is an amazing score for full orchestra and choir. I love how Ennio’s approach to writing for TV is simply to ignore the fact that he is writing for the small screen and not for the cinema. It is exactly what is happening now, almost 30 years later: TV Shows are becoming more filmic and TV scores are becoming more cinematic. These are exciting times for being a composer.



Do you involve yourself in the compiling of a soundtrack release if there is to be one ?

Yes, I love Soundtrack Albums and I produce my albums personally. What I find magical about a good soundtrack album is that listening to the music the audience can live once again all the emotions of the story in an intimate and personal way.

I would like audiences to leave the theatre with the main theme of the score in their head! For many iconic films of the past we can immediately remember the Main Theme but this is becoming less and less frequent now.

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How much time were you given to work on PETER AND WENDY and what size orchestra did you utilise for the score?

For many reasons, including my commitments with Call the Midwife and my scheduled trip to Los Angeles for the Emmys, I had only 25 days to compose the entire score. I call them “Lion Days”: when you work 20 hours per day and the adrenaline is as high as if you were actually performing live with the orchestra. Following the actual composition I had another week to improve some details of the score after approval and 2 days of recording and 3 days of mixing.
I had 3 different size of orchestras for Peter and Wendy, the largest orchestra was 60 players, the smallest 35. I think we got an amazing sound for what we actually had and the merit is also of the genius of the mix, the recording and mixing engineer Jake Jackson who has mixed the entire score and most of my projects.

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What composers or artist would you say have been influential upon you and your career?

Beethoven, Puccini, Chopin, Stravinsky, Ravel, Morricone, Horner, Williams, Newman.


You worked on a series called MUDDLE EARTH, this I think had 26 episodes, when working on so many episodes do you ever re-use cues from previous episodes as the series progresses?

I re-use cues from previous episodes on every show and I think this is an important part of writing for a TV Series. I think that the best TV scores are made of cues that can be re-used but at the same time adapted on the scene. In addition I think that it is very interesting how on long running shows some of the ideas can develop together with the characters for several hours of film. In the case of the Paradise for example some themes have gone through 16 hours of variations and it is quite a wonderful journey for a composer.
This aspect of variation and development is in my opinion more interesting in long running Episodic Tv Series than in feature films: it is more difficult in films to have such evolution in just a few hours of storytelling.

The downside of writing for TV are the very short deadlines: sometimes I had to score an entire episode in 5 days, that is 35 minutes of orchestral music. For this reason it is indispensable to be able to re-use cues with style, adapting them when needed.

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How do you like to work out your musical ideas, do you adopt a traditional approach, i.e. piano, manuscript and pencil or do you opt for the more technical methods as in computers etc ?

Most of my music is arranged directly in my computer, but what I don’t like, especially for major themes is to have the idea in front of the screen in my studio. I prefer to have the idea while I am walking, cooking, travelling in a train, relaxing, or in front of a piano. I record my ideas on my phone and then I transcribe them on the piano and arrange them on the computer.
For electronic music I spend more time on the computer but I try to have always an idea before I sit down in front of the machines. For many film scores I can hear that a lot of music is just improvised in front of a computer…and it does sound like that!

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CALL THE MIDWIFE is a popular series, when working on the score are you conscious of the source music or period music that is sometimes used on the series?

I am conscious of the source music, in every episode there are 2 or 3 songs. I don’t want my score to be too influenced by the source music because I think that what I do is strictly connected with the inner feelings of the characters and I need to have my own voice to define the tones of the story and to be part of the narrative.

Have you ever given any concerts of your music for film and TV ? If not would this be something that you might consider in the future ?

Yes I have had performances of my music and I would love to do more in the future. I am very impressed by Ennio Morricone touring at the age of 87 – his energy and passion are really majestic and inspirational.

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What is next for you ?

Producers are starting to talk about Call The Midwife 6 with some very interesting development in the story. I have declined a couple of other offers for films, my goal is to write a score for a film that allows me to go beyond what I have done previously so it has to be a very special project. Fingers Crossed!

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Many thanks to Maestro Maurizio Malagnini for this wonderful interview and for his beautiful music.