Video Game Heroes – Day 2 of recording plus behind-the-scenes video

Day two of recording for conductor Andrew Skeet and Southbank Centre Resident Orchestra, the LPO, with their upcoming album Video Game Heroes. Here’s the latest from the studio and check out the video below for some background to this exciting new project!

Great day in Angel studios  – day two of the recording.  What a mixture – a morning of brass & woodwind, an afternoon of percussion and then drums and bass in the evening.  This was a tricky day for everyone logistically and I suspect I was not all that popular for a number of reasons!  First Angel is a slightly tricky studio to get large instruments into because of the stairs and not very big doors and then the percussion list for this was pretty epic as you’d expect I hope.  We had pretty much everything you could hit or scrape and we did hit AND scrape most of it.  This was such a fun session and the guys couldn’t have been more helpful.   There was very little setup time between sessions and one minute the room at Angel was full of percussion and the next it had all gone and we had a drum kit on a riser at the far end.

The morning was equally spectacular with mighty brass fanfares, woodwind flourishes and generally epic behaviour.  Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune made us all feel like heading off for the New World there and then, Fallout Theme just got even more grimy and wonderful and both tracks from Call of Duty were wonderfully heroic.

Putting the drums and bass on in the evening was brilliant because it started to pull things in a less conventional direction for certain tracks and I started to realise how wonderfully diverse this album is going to be.  A lot of video games involve some of adventure or exploration and I started to feel that we were, ourselves, right in the middle of an epic journey and I hope we can take that into the gig itself.  It should be interesting but we’ll only get one life so if we fall off in the middle it’s all over!

Andrew Skeet, Conductor

You can hear these new arrangements live in concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on 2 September 2011 at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Get tickets here.

The Greatest Video Games Music performed by the LPO – Conductor Andrew Skeet’s recording diary

The LPO’s 2011/12 classical season at Southbank Centre kicks off in style with something a little bit different. We’ve had music from films and TV, but now the LPO are bringing the Greatest Video Games Music to the Royal Festival Hall.

Experience total orchestral immersion in the worlds of Angry Birds, Elder Scrolls, Zelda, Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog, Little Big Planet and more.

An album of the music will be released in the autumn and conductor Andrew Skeet has given us a run-down of the first day’s recording.

Andrew Skeet and the LPO

Andrew Skeet and the LPO

Just finished day one of recording with the LPO.  Phew!  Bit of a marathon but it was very cool.  I guess none of the players knew what to expect really and at this stage they are only hearing part of the story because we have yet to add in brass and woodwind and of course the percussionists (without whom no games music would be complete!)  They were brilliant and enthusiastic and even helpful after pretty much 11 hours of recording.

So, we were in Angel Studios on Upper Street in Islington, which is like a little brother to Abbey Road and Air Lyndhurst I suppose in that it is a little more compact and bijou but none the worse for that.  Excellent studio and very friendly and at least there is somewhere decent to eat and drink after a session which is very important …. But it was a really full room with about 48 string players plus some brass and woodwind in the evening.  Luckily the air-con was working.  Oh and piano and harp of course – and me conducting.

It was incredible to hear all the music coming to life; Metal Gear Solid starting its epic journey, Fallout surprisingly exciting (in a filthy, sleezy sort of way) given that it was not my favourite going into the sessions.  What else was good?  My new arrangements of Angry Birds and Tetris certainly amused me and there was some absolutely glorious string playing from the guys and girls in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Uncharted.  It’s going to big and beautiful when it’s all done.

Now I have to force myself to get back in front of the computer and start sorting out the stuff for the big sessions on the 22nd August where we have the whole damn lot of them together in one room making some fine noises.  This is when it all gets very epic with some Final Fantasy favourites, some Warcraft.   Also I met the American composer Jason Graves last week and very excitingly he has agreed to send me over a suite from his score for Dead Space which is weird and wonderful.  I haven’t played this game but apparently it is super scary and even the usually phlegmatic 20 year old Joss, who is a sort of consultant for me on this, says he never plays it at night time.  Just too scary – and Jason’s score is a lovely mixture of wild and dark string effects but also some beautifully lyrical writing.  Can’t wait!

Right, back to doing battle with Legend of Zelda Theme before heading off to hear some Ravel at the Proms after which as usual I shall have to do some “not worthy” soul-searching about my orchestration because as everyone knows it doesn’t get any better than Monsieur R. (…. well it depends on my Super Mario Bros orchestration turns out – maybe I’ll give the old boy a run for his money yet!).

Andrew Skeet

The LPO

You can hear these new arrangements live in concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on 2 September 2011 at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Get tickets here.

Progress update on the Royal Festival Hall Organ – July 2011

The organ builders at Harrison & Harrison are currently working on constructing the framework of the central section of the organ. At the lowest level of the framework, the wind reservoirs are already in place and a handful of soundboards for the pipework are also in position.

               

The new spotted metal 16ft Pedal Principal is currently being constructed in heavy gauge metal. In order to prevent the pipes from sagging under their own weight in years to come (a fault with some of the largest pipes, as designed in 1954), zinc sleeves have been made to reinforce the pipe feet. The metal has been cast for these pipes and the photos show the first stages of them being soldered and put together on the benches.

     
The central display of tin and copper pipes, known as the monogram, has been found to be coated in a lacquer which is not from the original design and, in addition, yellow nicotine traces can be seen on the tin pipes because smoking was permitted in the hall during the 1950s.

One important question has been to understand how the pipes looked in 1954. As there are no surviving colour photos of the pipes as first installed, it has only been possible to understand how the pipes looked in 1954 by studying footage of a BBC film of Gillian Weir playing the organ in the mid 1960s. Although the colours in the film are rather faded, they allow us to see that that these pipes were probably originally intended as vibrant and contrasting design elements and, after discussion with the organ builders, it has been decided that the pipes will be cleaned and restored to allow this effect to re-emerge.