Revisiting 'the Singing Detective'

Singing Detective DVD
This week I began work on a new project: a performance of about an hour for one of my ensembles. It is based on selection of songs from the BBC miniseries "the Singing Detective", that originally aired in 1986. For those who don't know the show: it's about a writer with a nasty and painful skin disease in a hospital, working on a novel of the said 'singing detective' (although the actual story is a lot deeper and more confusing than this). If you want to know more about it, here's a link to the wikipedia page. The whole project is a lot of fun because I face a few interesting challenges:

The main restriction is that I'm writing big band style for a smaller line-up. For one thing: there are no drums in the band! This means that the other instruments should have a rhythmically more important role. It will take some creativity to find interesting solutions for this. I'm really looking forward to this, because I get to play around with a lot of different rhythmic configurations. Also, the songs are from the '20s - '30s and quite well-known, so I want to inject some fresh elements here. Not 'modern' - that wouldn't fit with the ensemble - but just something to keep the songs interesting. A bit different maybe. I might use some jazz-counterpoint for that. That should of course be fairly simple in order to fuse seamlessly with the rhythmic elements, but this is what I really like about projects like this.

So why this theme? Well, basically because the songs from the series fit well with the line-up of the band and the music they already have. They are basically (jazz) standards without any specific cohesion - apart from the series. I also picked the theme for nostalgic reasons. I really loved the moody, confusing and somewhat dark atmosphere of it. If you like moody, melancholic stuff, I can wholeheartedly recommend watching it!

So I'm off writing some arrangements (and dusting of some study material), to do some serious creativity training. And by the way: if you want some more information about my arranging, you can find that here.


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