Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Namos Chronicles - Pt 2

Angela Reith who created the music for The Namos Chronicles has very kindly sent me a few words about her involvement in the production.

As part of my work as a AV and Video Producer at Scripture Union’s Sound and Vision Unit (SVU) from 1977-1983, I composed the music for a number of soundtracks, including The Namos Chronicles. Allan Lee was also a staff producer there and we had a lot of fun creating musical jingles together in the 8-track sound studio, and working together on AV productions which were intended as discussion-starters on life and faith issues for children and teenagers.

Allan was very interested in SF and so he commissioned Nigel Forde (actor, novelist, scriptwriter and Radio 4 poet) to write some updated versions of the parables of Jesus, in the SF genre. Nigel was part of York-based Riding Lights Theatre Company who I had worked with as a musician while I was still at Birmingham University studying English & Music. This was in the early 1970s, when the theatre company was amateur, calling itself Breadrock Street Theatre Company, and performing on Welsh beaches, in pub car parks and in the Royal Albert Hall.

So The Namos Chronicles were born, and as resident producer and musician, I was commissioned to compose the music. I am ashamed to say that I cannot remember a single musical theme that I composed for the series, as, since then, much music has flowed onto manuscript paper and Sibelius software, and I don’t have a copy of the soundtrack or the music MS anywhere in my files. But I do remember that we were very new to multi-track recording in 1980/1981, having recorded previous music cues ‘as live’ and in stereo, with musicians crammed into our small SVU studio. We didn’t know about ‘click tracks’ at that stage and so I laid down a piano guide track on our new MCI 8-track recorder and synched all the other tracks to this, using a synthesiser for brass and other orchestral instruments. We soon learnt more about multi-track recording techniques, but I imagine the production aspect of the Namos music would sound very creaky by today’s standards. I’m not sure I want to hear it again for that reason!

Allan Lee will have lots of stories about the production process (which took many weeks longer than planned) but one I particularly remember is the day when he and photographer Gordon Gray were creating and filming a small explosion in the basement photographic studio (which doubled as the sound-proofed recording studio). Unknown to them, the smoke from the explosion drifted into the air-conditioning system and circulated throughout the building. The Scripture Union Board was meeting on the top floor and the Board members were extremely alarmed when smoke emerged into the room. They set off the fire alarm and evacuated immediately. The first Allan and Gordon knew of it was when they saw the red light flashing in the studio indicating a fire.

Those were the days...

Angela Reith

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