As promised in yesterday’s post, today was an absolute marathon. I thought it would be an idea to look at how the day unfolded through the eyes of the Engineers today. (There will be some student posts about the day coming very soon!)

For the three of us (Matti, Ieva and I) it kicked off early. We began by starting the set up for the film music and jazz concerts at 7:30 this morning. Clearing the Concert hall and putting in some of the equipment required. We only had short bursts of time as the hall was in use most of the day for the Advanced Composition recordings. This meant using it as and when we could get into it and working quickly as well as preparing everything outside the hall to maximise the time we had. At the same time the Cross Cultural Composition started recording and the Vocal Composition group got their recordings under way too (although thankfully they start the day with a warm up so there was a little time!)

Once these had started there were moments where we could get into the main concert hall and continue, Matti and Ieva kept working with the film music group and I worked my way around all of the other groups and continued to do the little bits and bobs that needed doing as part of the everyday tasks. One of these odds and ends involved helping with a cross cultural recording as one piece used two different loop pedals to create a continuous drone sound on a bass clarinet. An idea which seems to have produced a really interesting piece.

The film course is the most music tech heavy part of the Summer School by a long way. The two recording studios are in constant use for most of the week, musicians recording samples and short tunes for the students to use in their projects. Students add recorded parts and MIDI (electronic) parts to their score to build a sound world and the film music to go with it. Mr G, Tom, the musicians, Matti and Ieva are almost always either recording or helping out with the software.

This evening, the films were performed with the musicians adding parts in live on top of the recordings. This adds a technical challenge as they need to hear a click track as well as individual mixes (this is “foldback”) whilst the music plays out the front. The audience must never hear the click track!

The rehearsal was slightly delayed as other groups recordings ran over very slightly, this made our time just that little tighter than ideal. The film concert is always a real technical workout. It involves a large number of mics, different instruments, a wide selection of percussion and a different mix of each piece of music for each musician playing. On top of which there has to be a mix that the audience hears. We spent quite a bit of time sorting the click tracks as they all had different volumes either inaudible or deafening. But we managed a complete run and a few films had a second chance to be rehearsed too.

The concert was a great success, this course seems to go from strength to strength and this year has produced some incredible pieces. From beautiful romantic comedy tunes to dark depths of despair. The music produced really told a story for every film and emphasised the directors intentions very successfully. It’s amazing how the music can affect the feel of  film so much, we’ve seen some films tackling the darkest or most blood thirsty topics made comical simply by the music used.

After the film concert there was a very short break during which the Film Musicians clear their equipment and instruments and the jazz musicians set up. (just to demonstrate what a large task this is, Rosie the percussionist had a vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, tam tam, bass drum, snare drum, cymbals and a metal dustbin – I think that was all!) This was completed in under 15 minutes this year, a bit of a record.

The jazz concert is always a feel good gig, with a lovely atmosphere created by tea lights and everyone sat at tables. Students gave a short introduction to their pieces and explained their influences as well as what their aims were for their composition. The 6 piece band give a great performance every year and this was no exception. The pieces were well programmed and led into each other very nicely adding to the chilled out vibe of the concert.

Following the jazz concert there was another quick clear-out before a fun disco (I’m really not a DJ, so I hope it was fun for all!) Key tutor Kerry and Alison (vocal composition and cross cultural composition respectively) certainly had a good boogie on the dance floor and Beth (head chaperone) was tearing up the dance floor before shepherding everyone off to bed just after 11. Finishing just past 11 Matti and I then started some of the set up for tomorrows concerts finishing around midnight.

Tomorrow is thankfully slightly less intense for us engineers. I’m really looking forward to engineering the vocal composition. I’ve only caught tiny snippets of their work all week and it has been catching my attention each time I hear it. The cross cultural composition start the day with their concert – which will include the bass clarinet, loop pedal drone from earlier. And to finish, the advanced composition group will perform their works.