When I was very young, my parents had an old record player. For me, this was a magical machine – a gateway to another world and a device which ignited a lifelong love of recorded music. We probably had a few LPs but I only remember four of them. Each has had a lasting impact on me and my music.
The Sound of Music:
Yes, I’m afraid I have to admit I’m a fan. I think I’ve been in love with Julie Andrews since about the age of two! My parents’ copy of the soundtrack included a story booklet illustrated with photographs of stills from the film. I would sit and listen to the music whilst reading the narrative. Consequently, I think I knew the plot back to front long before I even saw the film. I can understand those who find it all just a bit too saccharine but, for me, the music remains a masterclass in melody. As a boy, my favourite song was “Sixteen, Going On Seventeen” (so grown up!) but these days I’m drawn to the oft-overlooked, “Something Good.” I still think the film has one of the best opening sequences in cinematic history.
The Old Fashioned Revival Hour:
The LP cover had an illustration depicting a family riding to church in a horse and cart so this wasn’t exactly cutting edge, contemporary hymnology! Even so, I loved the catchy tunes, sung with such genuine conviction and gusto by a large choir accompanied by fistfuls of octaves on piano and Hammond organ.
“Diddly dum dum da-da dum, diddly dum dum da-da dum…” I used to listen to “Mars The Bringer of War” over and over again. What a piece of music! Even at a very early age I remember working out that there was something disturbingly asymmetrical about the rhythms – it’s in 5, so you can’t march, waltz or dance to it. I heard again on Classic FM in the car today and the insistent, driving rhythms, epic brass section and compelling dissonances still make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. As a media composer and film music fan, it all starts with Holst. What a debt is owed to that orchestral masterpiece by almost every epic/action/sci-fi film.
Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto:
As a very young child, I suffered from quite severe asthma. My mother would put this LP on the turntable as a way of calming and soothing me when an attack made breathing a panic-stricken struggle. Such an exquisite piece.
However, the association became too much and, to this day, I associate any solo violin with a shortness of breath!