Concert Hall meet the highest technical as well as musical standards.
‘Nowadays. everyone thinks of silent film as being accompanied by a honky-tonk piano. but ifyou went to a film in a major city in the silent era. you would have heard it accompanied by an orchestra. The other thing people associate with silent film is jerky movement, but that was because of hand-cranked cameras and the fact that there was no need to run at a consistent speed. because there was no sound to be affected by changes in pitch.
‘We slow that down and establish a standard speed for the film. and I can work to that agreed projection speed in the music. It is crucial that it is then projected at that speed. because I am very much guided by what is on the screen. In composing the score for The General. I have tried to be aware of the period feel.
and have used Civil War songs. while
a folk song of the time has become the love theme.‘
Davis has worked both from scratch and with the re-creation and re-composition of existing scores for silent films. in addition to his own original scores in more modern contexts. His works for the concert stage are less well known, and he acknowledges that they require a somewhat different approach in any case.
‘I don‘t differentiate in terms of style. but in writing for concert performance the texture has to be much more complete. In writing for film. there is no point in filling up the score with fascinating counterpoint and immense orchestral detail. because then you are not doing your job. which is to support the film, not detract from it. It needs straightforward melody and
Carl Davis: eamlng his Bread harmony. without too much in between.‘
The most celebrated of his concert pieces is the Liverpool Oratorio which he co-wrote with Paul McCartney to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1991. Its genesis came out of the blue, just as he was about to conduct a work he had written for his actress wife Jean Boht (of Bread fame) with the RLPO in 1988.
‘It was an extraordinary circumstance. I scored a large work for my wife, with a text by Carla Lane, and literally 30 seconds before going on stage, the manager of the RLPO said we are celebrating the 150th Anniversary, could you think ofsomething to do as a finale? Without thinking, I said what about something with McCartney, and he said you’ve got it!
‘I then had to ﬁgure out a way to make that happen, and Carla came to my rescue, because she is a good friend of Linda, and we made the approach through her. The actual work was a collaboration between Paul and myself. I wanted to see ifwe could recapture those marvellous, lyric tunes he wrote for The Beatles, which had some relationship with classical music anyway.
‘We simply did it together, but I wanted it to be as McCartney-ish as
possible. The real compliment is that ‘
he wants to go on with it. The record has sold over 500,000 copies, and that is without very many performances so far. From June, though, it will be played in many countries, and I expect it will take off even more.’
Carl Davis and The Royal Scottish Orchestra accompany a screening of The General at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Sat 13.
am:- They fought the law
You might iind it amusing to hear parts ! at ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ inserted into a Chumbawumba song about the Dutch Resistance movement. But it’s less likely it you happen to be the song's publisher. With a horde oi lawyers ready to take them to the cleaner's over their ‘Jesus H Christ' LP, Chumbawumba backed down, removing the ‘subverted’ riiis oi Kylie, Pet Shop Boys, Stones and Beatles. ‘They iound them oiiensive -which basically meant that we‘d done it right,’ explains Alice oi the ‘Northern anarcho-cabaret band' which gave the world the albums ‘Pictures 0i Starving Children Sell Records’ (a poisoned punchbowl at the Live Aid party) and ‘Never Mind The Ballots’ (ditto Election ’87). The tapes have finally seen the light of day as ‘Shhh', and the band were glad oi the chance to go back and tinker with it, coming up with what they ieei is a much stronger album in the process.
“‘Shhh” became a statement not just
' save the world. We’re doing it basically
on censorship but on rock’n’roll
a ' «g\\\\\\ A
hypocrisy as well. All music is a collection oi stolen riiis - look at Elvis Presley. it he hadn’t ripped oii black music, rock’n'roll would never have existed. All these pop stars pretend they’ve produced some pure strain that nobody else can touch.‘
Chumbawumba, however beloved oi Crasstaiarians and crusties, are beyond thrashy, earnest harangues, prelerring to let their own brand oi quirky DIY indie-pop prevail.
‘it's weird,’ says Alice, considering her place in the entertainments industry, ‘because we actively set out to give people a good time and have a good time ourselves. It there’s no joy in your politics, don’t bother. We're not martyrs, we don't belong to any political party, we’re not doing it to
because our hearts are in the right place.’ (Alastair Mabbott) Chumbawumba play The Cathouse, Glasgow on Sat 13 and The Venue, Edinburgh on Sun 14.
Guitarist John Williams’s musical interests have always been wide-ranging, and it is typical that his recent Sony discs have included Vivaldi Concertos adapted ior guitar, a compilation oi classic Spanish guitar music and music by the contemporary Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, including the Iatter’s arrangements oi Lennon and McCartney’s ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ and Gershwin’s ’Summertime’.
His latest visit to Scotland, however, will ieature a new project, in the shape oi his eight-piece band Attacca. The successorto his Jill. and Friends outiit, its repertoire is laughingiy described by the guitarist as ‘contemporary classical music, but of the non-squeaking gate variety’, which
suggests a degree oi approachability in ; matters of melody and tonality.
be part oi his crossover activities. A brilliantly gilied classical player, he has also appeared in popular television variety programmes, and has shared a stage with non-classical musicians like i the ilamenco guitarist Paco Pena, ‘ iazzman Barney Kessel, and singer
separate poles oi classical and From his description, Attacca will not 3
that way. The guitar repertoire ls always widening - it is such a popular
Cleo Laine. The pop-into-classical supergroup Sky seemed a natural extension of that, but he is a little deiensive about the association now, possibly because critical acclaim never matched the group’s popularity.
‘Sky is one of those things which gets blown out of proportion and distorted, mainly by the media. i did more classical periormances during the years i played with Sky than at any othertlme in my career, but i don't believe that you ought to go looking ior
non-classical divisions in my music in
instrument in all iields now, and
' people are writing new music ior it all i
the time.’ (Kenny Mathieson) ' John Williams’s Attacca play The Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Fri 5.
The List 5— 181m; 1992 27