Tag Archives: Desert Island Discs

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

Last session I included a short Desert Island Discs session in an In Service as a prelude to offering a session on Audacity. The item I chose to represent my love of the craft of musical arranging was I’ve Got You Under My Skin (Cole Porter arr. Nelson Riddle) from the album Songs For Swinging Lovers:

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At that time, this was the only arrangement of the song I really knew and, as so often happens, it seemed like the best and only expression of the song. However, on Monday of this week, following another In Service, I heard a contrasting arrangement on the Radio 3’s In Tune – one of those moments when you end up sitting in the car, at the journey’s end, until the song was over. The singer is a sprightly 82-year old Barbara Cook with Michael Kosarin on piano and Peter Donovan on bass. I’m presuming the arrangement to be the work of Kosarin – a celebrated Broadway musical director. You can hear the song here at 27:35 (until it’s over-written by the edition on Monday 2 Nov). What impressed me particularly was the harmony from 28:27 – the arpeggios seeming to capture the giddy relentlessness of romantic obsession.

I’ve always felt the art of arranging to be taken for granted. Perhaps that’s a compliment to many arrangers – that their work makes songs sound so natural that it seems like no big deal. However, the result is that, compare to performing & composing there is little discussion of the topic. That’s why I consider this six-part interview of Nelson Riddle to be something of a treasure:

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Desert Island Mashup

I’m in the process or preparing a short CPD session for colleagues on the free, open-source sound- recording and editing program, Audacity. When pitching the idea, I suggested that we could each prepare a Desert Island Discs CD, featuring 1 minute each of eight tracks. In addition to learning such aspects of the program as fade-ins and fade-outs, it would encourage us to discuss music with one another – a thing which, somewhat ironically, rarely happens. The other irony is that, in seeking accommodation, I discovered that the room containing the most computers, loaded with Audacity is not in a Music department, but CDT.

To experiment with cross-fading, I’ve cut down my original Desert Island Disc extracts to a few seconds. This is the sort of mashup one could use to give an overall flavour of, say, a school concert. While I think you’ll agree that this selection desert-island-discs-mashup doesn’t represent the ideal dinner party mix, it probably doesn’t matter as, on a desert island, one tends to dine alone. “Just as well,” some of you may say upon hearing these extracts.


Music, memory & emotion

The second half of yesterday’s Material World came from The Cavern, where the BA Festival of Science – Brains, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll was considering the fields of music, memory and emotion.

One thing to emerge was that important memories, associated with specific pieces of music, tend to be formed between the ages of 15 & 25. I’d come across this notion a few times and, for some reason, was reluctant to believe it – almost as though it belittled musical content of the remaining 23 years. However, when considering tracks for a Desert Island Discs project I recently proposed for an In Service* many were works I’d come across in that very period. Why not consider your own choices and see whether this is true of you?

The programme mentioned the The Magical Memory Tour which invites people to contribute a memory associated with the Beatles.

You can listen again or download a podcast from the Material World site – until Thursday 18th.

* the idea here, rather than simply listening to music at tax payers expense is to encourage colleagues to experiment with sound editing software (such as Source Forges excellent and free program, Audacity) to produce 8 x 1 minute extracts, each intended to convey specific expressive ideas. I think it would be interesting to see one another discuss expressive content, emotion, composition, technique, cultural and personal context etc.