Stuff that occurs to me

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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 12 October 2013

I hope the BBC makes more programmes about film music and its history

The BBC has been running a fantastic meta-series of programmes under the #BBCSoundOfCinema banner. There have been several television programmes including a couple of the Proms and the BBC's new series 'The Sound of Cinema' along with radio programmes on BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, 6 Music and BBC Asian Network.

There's been so much film music stuff that I'm sure I've missed loads, but a couple of things particularly stood out for me - Neil Brand's "Sound of Cinema: The Music that made the Movies", a glorious three-part journey through film sound, and David Arnold's and Matt Berry's one hour "Sound of Cinema" programme plus their 30m appearance on Edith Bowman's show, the day before it was broadcast, to talk about it*.

*[at time of writing there are only 3 days left to download that; they talk about the thinking that went in to putting the programme together, so it's a nice bit of background info; the other hour long programme should be up available to listen for another year].

There's a nice quote from Ben Goldacre (can't find it though!) pointing out that one of the reasons BBC Radio 4 science programmes are often so good is that they usually have a high proportion of scientists on who are speaking, directly, about their work.

What was particularly good about these film music programmes was having experienced "practitioner-communicators" (suggestions for a less ridiculous phrase welcomed) putting other people's work in context and bringing their own knowledge, skill and experience.

Anyone can talk (or write) about a subject they're passionate and knowledgeable about but people who know their stuff, from experience (ie people with a sufficient level of expertise that they can not just 'do stuff' but troubleshoot if problems arise), might also spot some interesting aspects that I'd just miss, and be able to explain them.

Of course 'outsiders' often spot different things and I'm all for a mixture of voices, but in the genre of film / screen music I'm particularly interested in hearing from people who've created it themselves. This year alone I've been to hear 10 composers talk about their work, so possibly I am unusually enthusiastic!

When I went to hear Neil Brand introduce episode one of his series to a packed and enthusiastic audience at the BFI (really, more television programmes should be shown at the BFI!) one of the themes in the Q and A, and acknowledged by Neil and series producer John Das, was that the series just scratched the surface and there's a LOT more to say about film music. They gave the analogy of there being enough to say about film music that would fill three 'baths' but they were only really able to broadcast three cups' worth in the time available.
  • Please can we have some more television programmes about film music? 
  • Any chance Neil's series could be released on DVD?

    I understand that getting rights to show clips, beyond initial broadcast, can be a bit fiddly - this seems an annoyingly solvable problem, but I shall link to an interesting paper (behind a paywall unless you have an academic login, but abstract is very clear) about the practical challenges faced by academic researchers writing about film and film music, when trying to get hold of stills or clips etc.

    Annette Davison (2007) Copyright and scholars' rights Music, Sound and the Moving Image 1:1 (9-13)

Viewing figures suggest The Sound of Cinema is a popular programme
I've no idea how many times the 6 Music radio programmes with David and Matt were listened to or downloaded but according to BARB (the Broadcast Audience Research Board) figures for Neil's television programme were pretty healthy.

The page for viewing information on Top 10 programmes is here http://www.barb.co.uk/viewing/weekly-top-10 and you can select different weeks to view what was most-watched then.

For BBC Four, the third episode (broadcast on the Thursday and then repeated on the Sunday) made the top 10 twice. Not too shabby. For comparison the number one programme on BBC Four that week, with 903 thousand viewers was Lucy Worsley's 'A very British murder'.

These figures tell us nothing about the numbers of people who 'watch again' on BBC iPlayer of course.

Episode One - this had the highest viewing figures, perhaps not surprising as it was pretty well promoted and also was the first.

BBC4
w/e 15 Sep 2013
2 SOUND OF CINEMA: THE MUSIC THAT MADE THE (THU 2103) - 771 thousand

Episode Two
BBC4
w/e 22 Sep 2013
2 SOUND OF CINEMA: THE MUSIC THAT MADE THE (THU 2101) - 593 thousand

Episode Three
BBC4
w/e 29 Sep 2013
5 SOUND OF CINEMA: THE MUSIC THAT MADE THE (THU 2101) - 562 thousand
10 SOUND OF CINEMA: THE MUSIC THAT MADE THE (SUN 2235) - 383,000




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