Network: My Technology - Anne Dudley - Hi-tech in harmony
Oscar-winning musician Anne Dudley explains how she composes film soundtracks
Monday 21 June 1999
I think it is better to describe our work as being open to any sound. We make art from all noise; from industrial sounds, people shouting, doors slamming. I've always thought that this attitude made our name - Art of Noise - perfectly sensible.
Nevertheless, it was a piece of technology that gave us the impetus to start the band. This was the Farelight, in effect, the first piece of sampling technology, which arrived in the early Eighties. It was monstrously expensive, but Trevor Horn had a few hit records and had some money knocking about, so invested in one. In short, it made what was once really hard very easy
Of course, people had experimented with sampling before the technology arrived. It was a rather long-winded process involving cutting up tape and sticking the pieces into a different order. It was very laborious, and you would never have instant results. And you couldn't be wildly musical with a sample done this way.
Even now the technology we use remains something of a mystery to me. My strengths, I think, are elsewhere, probably because I am a trained classical musician. But there is one piece of technology that is absolutely essential to us - the Streamline Scoring System, which was invented by two American music editors in the late Eighties. This computer system reads the time code from a video, and you enter where you want the music to start and end. Each bar of music can be matched up, so the score is absolutely in time with the action of the film.
There is a nice anecdote about the making of the film score to Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon which illustrates how difficult it was before this system was invented. Kubrick was such a stickler for detail that the composer could never get the length of the music exactly right according to his wishes - and it wasn't easy when he was relying on sight alone. It was either too short, too long or about a second and a half out of synchronisation. They got it right eventually, but only after 119 takes.
The only drawback is, this system isfairly expensive. Yet, in my case, I score a lot of comedy, and I always think that with comedy music, the timing is especially important. If it's out by a couple of seconds, you can miss the joke. On the other hand, it can really add to the slickness and pace of the comedy if the music is timed right.
I use a combination of technology and traditional tools in my work. For instance, while we are in the studio there is no hard and fast rule either way - if I was doing a soundtrack with any kind of programmed rhythm I would go through that, and then put the real musicians to the rhythm. The gear I use is always according to the type of score.
As far as composing is concerned, however, it's always done while I am sitting at a piano. Perhaps it's the atmosphere, or because your imagination is not limited to sounds available in the sampler machine. Yet it's more difficult. It's quite easy to get a happening rhythm track, but quite difficult to make it into an interesting piece of music. I hear a lot of music these days, and while some is obviously based on a good idea, I don't think one idea is enough. Music needs at least one idea every 10 seconds.
The Art of Noise's `The Seduction of Claude Debussy' is out on ZTT
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
The magicians using online collaboration to push boundaries
lifeIt takes year-long dedication to get Selfridges ready for 25 December. And they're already working on plans for 2015...
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Arts & Ents blogs
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
Coriolanus, theatre review: 'Tom Hiddleston has blazing stellar power'
Nymphomaniac, film review: 'Despite the surreal sex scenes this is a serious drama'
A special delivery: Behind the scenes on the set of 'Call the Midwife'
Justin Bieber's mishaps and controversies
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Ethan Couch: Texas quadruple murderer – or a victim of ‘affluenza’?
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Ian Watkins: Paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences, as judge labels him a 'dangerous sexual predator'
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >