MAKING THE MUSIC FOR "CHIMPWEEK" - Piers Partridge
      
        all the music samples on this page are Broadband Windows Media Player files

 

When BBC Producer, Phil Chapman, asked me in March of last year if I would be interested in writing the music for Chimp Week, I said "not if I have to write music to fit the picture. I'd like to get together with a bunch of other musicians and just mess around for a while, and see what comes up". Swallowing hard Phil said, OK.

So - I got in the car, (I live in Bristol) and drove down to see my friend Chartwell Dutiro, an Mbira player from Zimbabwe, who lives in Devon.

      
    Chartwell                Mbira  

I took with me my home made tin guitar and my tin ukulele - I call it my tinklele.

    
    tin guitar             tinklele  

We sat in Chartwell's kitchen, drank tea and enjoyed ourselves. The music was fresh, spontaneous and vital - just as I had hoped. This would set the tone for the whole series.

Chartwell is one of my favourite singers - although he is better known for his Mbira playing. In the old days you'd never hear vocals on Wildlife Films but things have changed and if you watched Chimps I think you'll agree that every time Chartwell sings it gives a huge lift to the Film.

 

 

 

 


   
         
Piers,
married, 56 years old, 3 kids, a Collie-cross dog, a 3 wheel car, building a Straw bale Studio (the "Strawdio"), guitarist, songwriter, fanatic Table Tennis player, Volunteer Woodland Warden.

These days most of us TV Composers rely on using computerized samples of instruments in our compositions. Although they sound very grand they all sound the same "grand". Particularly for the dramatic hunting scenes I wanted the sound of real drums. So my next step was to book Henleaze Hall and a wonderful bunch of Bristol drummers called "Hum Drum".

       
              Hum Drum Session  

This was very successful, and when we added the raw, vibrant sound of the recordings to the film, you really got a sense of the drama when Frodo hunted the small monkeys.

The way I work is to bring recordings I've made "on location" back to my studio where I edit them and add bits and pieces. These days I'm more interesting in making an instrument than spending money on Sample disks. A parent from my son's school gave me a broken guitar recently and I made it into a kind of weird finger piano. I sawed the neck off and attached plastic rulers to the "bridge" of the guitar body. I used it a lot on Chimpweek - sounds really earthy and woody.

           
               ruler guitar  
The neck then got used on a tin guitar.
           

 

 

In the sequences where the male Chimps went out on Patrol I wanted to make an instrument which would sound like a primitive jungle instrument. Tried various things that didn't work but eventually got the sound I was looking for out of an Asda plastic bottle with rubber bands strung around it.

              
                  the "Asdal" 

The BBC loved the sound and I didn't reveal the instrument until many weeks later (simply saying it was an Asdal). You should have seen their faces when I finally showed them the conditioner bottle !

I was asked where I got the Choir from for the Chimp Week Title music (). There actually is no choir in that sequence. Its me, Chartwell, and a wonderful singer called (no relation) Phoebe Partridge (). With Computer recording you can record the same singer over and over until you get a choir sound. I had to teach her to sing in a more nasal way to sound African. Different from the way she usually sings. Phoebe has her own CD, "Talk about the Weather" - click here to learn more.

For more on the music for Chimp Week and other CD's by Piers Partridge email:  here or visit the Pindrop Music Website  here

For The Pindrop Band which Piers and Phoebe play in, based in Bristol, click  here


For Hum Drum www.humdrumstrum.co.uk