Lindsey Stirling…

Lindsey Stirling is one of the musicians I regularly listen to – she has been briefly featured on Cantabits before. Like The Piano Guys, she makes entertaining YouTube videos of herself performing – indeed, she recently did a video with them. While she is good with a violin and the arrangements she plays are nice, one of her more unusual talents seems to be combining violin playing with substantial dancing and movement – something that requires good balance. Below are two videos featuring her, starting with the one with herself and The Piano Guys. Go to YouTube to see, hear and download more.

Mission Impossible (Piano/Cello/Violin) ft. Lindsey Stirling – ThePianoGuys

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Matilda the Musical…

Recently, I was fortunate enough to see Matilda the Musical, a recently launched West End musical which has received glowing reviews and broken records while winning awards. Tim Minchin, credited with the music and lyrics, has been both featured and mentioned on this blog before and only performed in Cambridge back in November 2010. Naturally, I was expecting Matilda the Musical to be good, but I was still surprised and impressed by it, and think it has the potential to become a long-running classic.

Below, I leave you with a single but representative example. I strongly recommend that you go and see the real thing if you have a chance! Naturally, the soundtrack is available for purchase if you enjoy the songs.

When I Grow Up (Reprise) – Tim Minchin – Matilda the Musical

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey…

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is currently showing at cinemas, and I would recommend it – even if only to see what HFR is like. Personally, I think it’s a significant improvement in the viewing experience – perhaps even more so than 3D. In HFR, the Hobbit looks more like it is really happening in front of you, with people and objects looking more like they do in real life. The downside of this is that, if you’re looking for it, you can see the artificialness of the sets and props much more easily – I didn’t find this a distraction, however, as I spent the majority of the film just watching and enjoying it rather than in a critic’s frame of mind. Overall, the film obviously has significant similarities with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, though sufficient differences to perhaps make it more interesting to those who are reluctant to watch it. For example, as the main characters in the film generally stay together, more can actually happen in the film as many different groups don’t have to be followed at once. Also, being one book spread out over three films, there’s more time for comedy. Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage both handle their leading roles in the film well – the latter previously starred in things such as the BBC’s recent Robin Hood TV series, some of the soundtrack of which was previously featured on this blog. Predictably, the soundtrack of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is good too. It was written, like the soundtrack for The Lord of the Rings, by Howard Shore. Below I leave you with some of my favourite parts.

The Adventure Begins – Howard Shore – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Scooby Doo and The Ninth Gate…

Continuing my highlighting of interesting music that you may not have heard of, there are a couple of individual pieces of music that I felt like highlighting (rather than an entire composer, performer or soundtrack). The first is a nice arrangement of the Scooby Doo theme by MxPx, and the second is the almost inappropriately amusing theme for the character Dean Corso from The Ninth Gate (which itself is a strange but captivating film).

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? – Composers: David Mook and Ben Raleigh, Arranged and performed by MxPx

Corso – The Ninth Gate – Wojciech Kilar

Website of the month, January 2013…

The website of the month for January 2013 is Emigration Isle, a website that documents and illustrates periods of Irish emigration over the past two centuries. As well as being a well-put-together website, there is much enlightening information such breakdowns of numbers of emigrants per province for different waves of emigration. The website also places a heavy emphasis on case studies, allowing visitors to get a better understanding of the reasons behind the emigration.

I leave you with a related song, written from the perspective of someone who now resides in California but is thinking about their home in Spancil Hill, Co. Clare.

Spancil Hill – Composer: Michael Considine, Arranged and performed by The Dubliners

Christmas is coming…

And so is the Doctor Who Christmas Special and the second half of the current series of Doctor Who. Walt Ribeiro has produced interesting arrangements of a diverse range of popular music, including some from Doctor Who, for orchestras. You can listen to it via website and YouTube user For Orchestra. It sounds like he could use some of Blake Robinson’s sample libraries, so why not buy a few and put them on over Christmas to break up or even complement the carols a bit? Below you’ll find Walt’s arrangements of I Am The Doctor and a few other pieces of music.

I Am The Doctor – Composer: Murray Gold, Arrangement: Walt Ribeiro

We Wish You A Merry Christmas – Traditional, Arrangement: Walt Ribeiro

Party Rock AnthemLMFAO, Arrangement: Walt Ribeiro1

  1. There’s another good arrangement of this for marching band here. []

The Infinite Jukebox…

Know the music you like too well? Able to anticipate its every twist and turn? The Infinite Jukebox can help you – it lets you upload your own music before analysing it, looking for similar points in the music. When you get it to play, your music will seamlessly switch between those points, extending the music you uploaded into a fresh and infinitely long piece of music. Also provided by the clever and free service is a handy visualisation of the music and points between which The Infinite Jukebox thinks it can switch. I’ve found that while the switches are not completely seamless with some types of music, it works quite well – check it out1!

  1. The links are to Infinite Jukebox versions of The Final Countdown, Moonlight Sonata and Palm Tree Escape – I don’t know how long they’ll stay available for. The twists it does on the themes in Palm Tree Escape are particularly cool! []

Geoff Zanelli…

A few months ago I came across the website of Geoff Zanelli. Those familiar with Hans Zimmer might recognise him as a frequent collaborator, often only credited under the heading “Additional Music”. However, the brief descriptions of the nature of his work on various projects on his website and the example music provided has highlighted the fact that my favourite music from Pirates of the Caribbean (probably my favourite soundtracks) includes a significant number of Geoff’s arrangements of themes by Hans1.

The best example is perhaps He’s A Pirate from The Curse of the Black Pearl (reused in every subsequent Pirates film), a collaboration between Hans and Geoff. Broadside, from the same film, is a piece for which Geoff is also particularly well known. Bone Cages from Dead Man’s Chest is fun action music featuring Jack’s Theme while Lift Off and Shipwreck Cove are particularly nice arrangements of the the themes introduced in At World’s End. Palm Tree Escape and Jack’s Escape from On Stranger Tides are among my favourite pieces of music to be written for Pirates yet – the former a great blend of orchestral action with Rodrigo y Gabriela and the latter beginning with a brilliant arrangement of Jack’s Theme leading into the “Pirates” chords/harmonic progression, also featured prominently in pieces such as He’s A Pirate.

It is with the final two pieces of music mentioned above that I leave you (for as long as they remain on YouTube – Geoff’s website should have them for much longer) and the advice to check out for more examples of his work (including, in some cases, alternative recordings of music you might already know) both in collaboration with Hans and, increasingly, on his own. What do you think of it?

Palm Tree Escape – Geoff Zanelli/Hans Zimmer – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Jack’s Escape – Geoff Zanelli/Hans Zimmer – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

  1. There is some other music I like from Pirates of the Caribbean for which Geoff does not claim responsibility – Up Is Down, Drink Up Me Hearties and Hoist the Colours Suite from At World’s End and Jack Sparrow from Dead Man’s Chest, for example. []

The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra…

Another recent musical discovery of mine is Blake Robinson and his Synthetic Orchestra. While doing a magnificent job of demonstrating what can be achieved without the cost and hassle of recording an orchestral performance, the arrangements, orchestrations and compositions Blake produces are enjoyable. His speed is particularly impressive, with a considerable discography dating back only to 2010. The best part though, is that Blake gives a lot of details about the sample libraries he uses and how he achieves particular sounds, allowing us all to benefit from his knowledge (while likely benefiting him, considering the fact that he’s a sample library developer by day). Below, you can find a variety of his work, including both original items and items based on and/or inspired by existing music. You’ll notice that he has a bias towards music from games.

Adventures in your sleep

Portal – Still Alive at the Orchestra

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