Welcome to the music room.
At this time in the music room.
fortunate enough to teach down myself,
you know, I do some lecturing and I say
the same thing to my students, it's
not really so much about the music.
I mean, you're expected to
be able to write great music.
But, um, the thing that they don't teach
you is that you need to be able to get
along with people and, work with people,
work with different people, you know,
and kind of read the room those soft
skills are ones that you really need.
Hello and welcome to The Music Room,
the show where I chat with composers,
songwriters and musicians about what
they're up to before going back in time
to find out how it all began for them.
How are you at the moment?
Autumn can be a good time
creatively to knuckle down after
the summer, get some stuff done.
I've actually recently been doing a bit of
an audit of my social media use and I've
found I've just had too many accounts.
Too much time spent preparing
posts for too many accounts.
So, I had a long hard look at what
I should be posting and where.
And this is what I came up with.
You can do this too, but this is just what
I decided is going to work best for me.
So, uh, let's go through them.
LinkedIn, great for networking
with potential hirers and fellow
podcast industry people in my case.
So that's all I use it for now.
The other networks are great
for keeping up with peers.
You know, composers, friends, musicians.
Now I like Instagram, but there's a Music
Room account that doesn't really do much.
And I always feel guilty for
not spending more time on it.
So from now on, all the Music Room
content, in fact all of the content
that I produce, will go via, uh, my
personal account, atGarethSounds.
So come and follow me there.
Generally, if you're a similar
composer, musician, songwriter,
Whatever, I will follow back.
I have an artist page and, of course,
the lovely Music Room community group.
So, I'll be on Facebook
as long as the group is.
Um, I think Facebook has its
drawbacks on the community side, but
it's where a lot of my peers are.
Uh, there's peers again.
And, uh, so there we go.
That remains home for that.
And then, here's the clever bit.
I cross post, or I've set it up, from my
Instagram account to my Facebook page.
I still keep an eye on the
comments and messages, of course.
But there's about a
minute saved right there.
They all add up, don't they?
Ex formerly Twitter.
Um, I don't know about
you, but I think I'm done.
I'm plucking up the courage to
pull the plug on the account.
But I don't like what it's become, really.
And, in fact, you could argue it's
not the same platform anymore.
Crucially though, if I'm spending
time preparing stuff, it would be
nice to know that the platform will
still be there this time next year.
So, thanks for the tweets,
but I'll be seeing you.
Which brings me to Threads, which
had a rocky start, but I can say with
confidence, that so far it's a nicer
experience than X and recently there's
been a, one of those deer algorithm
post things that seems to have sorted
the feed into who I want to see.
So now my feed is full of musos, perfect.
Hello threaders if you're listening
and welcome to the music room podcast.
Anyway, that's enough of that.
How do you use the social media?
Do you limit yourself, or
do you try to be everywhere?
Get in touch via, well, wherever
you use social media, I suppose.
My links are in the show notes.
In this episode, you're going to hear
from composer Christopher Barnett,
who's had an extraordinary journey
from hearing Ravel's Bolero in
primary school, to scoring countless
feature films, documentaries and more.
And if you stick around, Chris will
also be leaving an amazing item, gave
me goosebumps actually, and a solid
piece of advice for anyone trying to
navigate becoming and being a composer.
But first, music stories.
session cellist and sample library
developer Matt Constantine has a
brand new and very interesting library
out via his company It's All Noise.
The release reads, We're proud to
announce our first contact player product,
Ultimate Cello Textures Harmonics Pad.
This is a prequel and sister library
to the larger Ultimate Cello Volume
1, Harmonics, which will be out soon.
This textures series of libraries...
Focuses more on sound design, with this
specific library being a pad designer,
using samples of cello harmonics.
And here's the good bit, if you're
a member of the Music Room group on
Facebook, you get an extra 10 percent off.
Link is in the show notes.
That's like free money right there.
Next, just for fun, I asked the Facebook
group their top three movies about music.
Pete said tar is my favorite.
Oh, I've not seen that soul
rocket man bohemian rhapsody.
That's for I know the one I
hate most is whiplash Jonathan
says this is spinal tap classic.
Holland's opus bohemian rhapsody That's
a couple for bohemian rhapsody, isn't it?
David says, Barbarian sound
studio, if sound design counts.
The soloist, the piano teacher,
all had quite an effect on me.
Robin, almost famous.
Amadeus, oh great old classic that is.
Uh, the piano.
Uh, Rod says, Singstreet, Featuring
music from Music Room guest Gary Clark.
Uh, Spinal Tap and Dig.
Uh, Matt says, The only one which
really strikes me that hasn't been
mentioned yet is The Red Violin.
Oh, that's a great film.
Daisy says, Brassed off.
Tara says, Lots of those mentioned,
but also the beat my heart skipped.
I've not heard of that one.
I might have to look that up.
Alexandra says, Want to
add tick, tick, boom.
Started sobbing at the truth of the
throwing a ball against the wall line.
Again, not, not seen that one.
Uh, Claire says, it's very silly
but still crazy is a classic.
Quite right too, it is a classic.
Herman says Amadeus and would be
hard pressed to think of two more.
Come on Herman, you can think of two more.
Uh, Broly, close encounters.
Hmm, is that because of the spaceship?
Shine is brilliant, isn't it?
Yeah, Blues Brothers.
Tom says Brasdorf 8 Mile.
8 Mile's a good one, yeah.
The Man Who Knew Too Much.
It's not about music, it has Bernard
Herrmann as the on screen conductor.
I'm not sure that qualifies, Tom.
But yeah, so many great movies there.
What are your favorites?
You can get in touch in
all the usual places.
Christopher Bara is a versatile
and dynamic composer known for
his work in cinema and television.
His extensive list of credits include
feature films A Dose of Happiness
and Borrowed Time and documentaries
Breaking Boundaries and Joy Womack
the White Swan, which charts the
story of the first American to train
a dance with the Bolshoi Ballet.
Airedale Records will be releasing an
EP of Chris's score for the Joy Womack
documentary on Friday the 8th of December
this year and will be available on.
All streaming platforms, his personal
EP, which, uh, you'll hear more about
shortly featuring Andy G Jones, Ashok
Clowder, Daisy Cool, and Joni A.
Fuller will be released early 2024.
Let's get into that there music
room and catch up with Chris.
Here we go.
Gareth: Christopher Barnett, composer.
Welcome to the music room.
Thank you, Gareth.
Wonderful to be here.
Track 1: You're very, very
Uh, how are you today?
as you say, it's been a bit rainy,
bit of flooding here in North London.
Um, and I'm just kind of, uh, trying
to keep a bit of a sore throat away,
but, um, otherwise I'm, I'm good.
Track 1: Yeah, we were having a quick
chat about the colds before hitting
record and it's, uh, yeah, we're so
used to, COVID and testing and, uh,
it's quite a surprise to have a cold.
chris-barnett_2_10-30-2023_133434: I know.
Track 1: uh,
I feel, I feel like Barry White
with a, you know, low husky voice.
Track 1: So in planning for this chat,
Chris, I had a listen to your stuff,
of course, and I've, seen your progress
on, uh, social media over the years.
I find it a bit difficult to categorize
you or pigeonhole you as a soundtrack
composer, which personally, I think that's
a big compliment because, I can't find...
Who you sound like to in order to do that.
What's your approach when you're
first attached to a project?
How do you decide sonically?
What's right for the production?
That is a compliment because,
um, I am a bit averse to, to, you
know, quote unquote, film music.
so to answer your question, I try to
find a way into the, um, the story.
you know, try, try to, to compose from the
inside out, you know, really get to the
heart of the characters and, and who they
are and the story and the environment.
And it, it, you know, sometimes when
I, when I ask directors questions that,
you know, they, they wonder why I go.
I tried to go quite deep, so I might
be asking questions about, you know,
how did this character grow up?
You know, what trauma did they experience?
And really try to build a picture so
that I can draw on that to, to kind
of speak about them in musical terms.
So maybe that's why music
sounds very non soundtrack like.
Track 1: Yeah, yeah.
And it I guess that time spent
at the start, if you're putting
in the time, you're more likely
to be on the same page on you.
It's the producers and the director.
Track 1: Saving time later on.
Yeah, you know, and, and, you know,
the time directors are hearing things
that they never would have expected,
Track 1: Yeah.
from, from the, the, the temp track,
you know, the dreaded temp track.
Um, but you know, I, I, I do try to be,
um, as original as, as I can, you know,
Track 1: Yeah, so it's having
a brave o meter, isn't it?
How brave are you going to be?
there are you going to be?
do you think they're
prepared to listen to?
so very grateful for the trust that
my director's placing me, you know,
cause it is a huge amount of trust.
Track 1: that's when you know when
you're working with people who
really care about what they're doing.
Track 1: Yeah, and you
have a forthcoming EP,
Track 1: found out.
What prompted that and when
can we expect to hear it?
um, I'm kind of at the moment awaiting,
a couple of projects to start that
they're in post production and filming.
Uh, last year, um, I lost
three people very close to me.
My father was one of them.
And, um, at the time I was scoring.
two pictures at the same time and
didn't really have a chance to
really grieve, if you like, you know.
But still, while I was busy going
about my day, doing my job, I noticed
certain feelings would come up and
all out of the sudden and couldn't
really understand them, you know.
So I thought, you know, I really want to
document these feelings, these emotions.
Um, I wouldn't say they were
even negative emotions, just,
just weird, just weird emotions.
Um, so I thought, you know,
I'll, I'll write this EP.
so having the thought and then actually
getting started are two different things.
But, uh, I think we got to,
um, August and I thought, you
know, I just got to get started.
Um, went on holiday with my family
and had a good think about it.
Came back and then just dived in.
So it's been a wonderful experience.
I've really, really enjoyed it, actually.
Scoring to picture is such a
different way of working, you know.
You have visual in front of you, and
you have the characters, and this is a
bit more introspective, really having
to kind of work out what I want to say
and how I'm going to say, you know.
But it's been, it's been great.
Track 1: yeah, so instrumentally,
style wise, we expecting to hear?
Um, I, very, very difficult to,
Track 1: let me put it another
way, is like a leap away from
what you, your usual approach?
Or is it, You know, have you
leaned into the things that
you're most comfortable with?
How have you approached that?
it's been a mixture of things.
You know, my, my musical background has
been so eclectic, but there's, I would say
there's some, there's some jazz in there.
Um, there is some orchestral,
delvings in there.
There's some almost like 20th century
musical ideas in there, you know, it's,
it's all done with a sense of,
dare I say, melancholy, you
know, and, um, heartfelt writing.
So, you know, I'm working, I've, I've
invited four wonderful instrumentalists
that To um, be featured on each
track and um, they're bringing
their own gifts and you know, to it.
So yes, it's wonderful.
you'll have to just wait
till I share it with you all.
Ha ha ha
Track 1: It's fantastic.
And I'm so to hear about your dad.
and hopefully there was some
catharsis in writing an EP
absolutely yeah, yeah.
Track 1: and putting it out there.
Are we ready to go back in time?
Let's find out how it all began
Well, well, yes, um, I don't come
from a musical family, first off.
So, for me, it, you know,
it's been a bit of a journey.
I've always had a love for music, though.
You know, my family, my earliest
memories are going to parties with
my family, listening to reggae
music and that kind of stuff.
I played the drums for about a year.
When I was at school, I was at 11.
Absolutely loved that.
Track 1: Oh wow, was intro to
yeah, first foray.
But before that, around this, yeah,
probably about a couple, maybe a
year or two before that, I have a
very strong memory of sitting in
school assembly and hearing um,
Ravel's Bolero for the first time.
And, It just knocked me for six,
you know, it's like, what is this?
Because up to that time it was all reggae,
you know, and so maybe that has something
to do with the drums, I don't know.
But, um, I absolutely loved the
drums, but sadly couldn't, wasn't
able to keep it, keep it up because
I couldn't afford a drum kit.
I come from a very, very poor background.
And, um, yeah, so I had to give that up.
And then, um, for several years
I, Began DJing through my teens,
so I would organize, parties.
you know, sell tickets, sort
of did boat trips, you know,
you know, that kind of thing.
And I would say through DJing, I kind
of found a way to understand what music
works and what music doesn't work with,
with an audience, if you like, dancers.
and then, uh, when I left
school, I had to get a job.
So I became, uh, an engineer.
Working on power stations and doing
drawings and that kind of thing.
Track 1: actual engineer, not a, not a
sound, I'm not saying sound engineers
aren't engineers, of course they are, but,
you actually getting your hands dirty.
So I would do you know drawings on for
power stations and stuff like that But
in the evenings I began I met met a
chap called Michael Riley who was former
lead singer of, the band Still Pulse,
which is a Birmingham reggae band.
And he was producing chart
music, top 40 chart music.
Um, he ran a, uh, an outfit called
the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra.
And they would provide strings for
artists, soul to soul and these people.
So I, I spent a year shadowing
him and, and tape, learning
how to tape op in the studio.
Track 1: Hang on, hang
on, back How did happen?
you're working as an engineer and
meet this guy, was it in a pub or was
no, it was through a family friend,
um, who was a fashion designer
and she, she knew everybody.
So she knew him and said, Chris has
this burning desire to do music.
Can you, you know, take
him under your wing?
And he very kindly said, yeah,
just come, keep your mouth
shut and, you know, tag along.
So I would, I would go
to work during the day.
Do my, my, my engineering during the day.
In the evenings, I would be out with
him till two, three in the morning.
Um, letting how to let in the
studio, you know, had the desk.
And, uh, it was real tore
tapes in those, in those days.
But, um, I very, I had a very, a very,
very good understanding of, of the
studio layout and how to, you know,
how to record and produce just by
watching what he was doing, you know?
Track 1: So, I spoke about
the engineering thing earlier.
that actually help you being
an engineer and then being
put in a studio environment?
Did that engineering brain of yours
kind of make those kind of sonic
connections, those audio connections,
signals, and you know, this goes
there, that connects to that?
I mean, it's, it's hard to really.
Pin down, you know, how the brain was
working at that time, but, um, I really
wanted to be a record producer at that
time, you know, I was inspired by Quincy
Jones and, uh, you know, listening to
albums of Michael Jackson and, George
Benson, you know, and how Bruce Sweden.
mixed and mastered those tracks,
it's just, just so, so great, you
know, it's such a great sound, like
galaxy chocolate type sound, you know.
So that, that was really my kind of
thinking and way in, you know, um.
Then the engineering world, that kind of
stopped, dried up, and I thought, well,
okay, I'm going to be a poor anything.
I'm going to be a poor musician.
So I, um, I dived into the world of music,
learned how to play the piano, practicing,
you know, seven to ten hours a day.
Track 1: old would you have been
when you started learning the
by this time I was early twenties.
Track 1: Wow.
chris-barnett_2_10-30-2023_133434: I was
early, I was really very late starter,
Track 1: I think there's a little pause
button to be hit there because, you
know, for people who think, oh, no,
it's too late to to learn something new.
I mean, that's quite something to go.
Just take yourself from that point
in time to where you are now.
And I had a young family as well.
So, know, yeah, it was a,
it was a, it was a task.
It was a daunting task, but it
was purely the love of music.
You know, I'd, I'd no, no real
ambitions to, to, to be anything
and be this film composer or didn't
even enter my mind at that time.
I just wanted to, to learn music.
So I enrolled at Morley college,
which is an adult education.
College in Waterloo.
I mean, Gustav Holst used to
teach there in the 40s and 50s.
And, um, I just did literally
every course in that place.
You know, there was sight singing,
there was jazz piano, jazz composition,
um, harmony and counterpoint.
I did a bit of acting, you know,
just, just all these different,
different courses, uh, jazz theory.
And then when I came out, I felt I had
a really quite strong grounding in,
being able to notate and write music.
And I did a degree, three year degree
at Roehampton Institute in, um.
Just basic music, but we did a
lot of, the classical music,
but we also did, world music.
So, I learned gamelan, uh, still pans,
um, I spent three months in America
learning Native American music and
spirituality, music of Shona, you
know, so it's a wonderful place.
Wonderful three years I had there.
I, then I came out of there and
thought, okay, what do I do now?
I love you.
Do a film masters.
So I did a, uh, yeah, a year
film masters after that.
And that helped me to consolidate
the previous six years of intense
study that I'd embarked on, you know,
Track 1: Did it kind of put it all into
context in terms of writing to picture?
And working with musicians, um,
because my, my experience of working
musicians was, was before that was
just to have like, I had, I used to
run like a quintet, a jazz quintet.
We would, you know, gig around
London while I was studying and doing
odd jobs and that kind of stuff.
Which was, which was great,
you know, really valuable.
Um, but doing the master's course helped
me to work with, um, string players and,
um, woodwinds and brass and that kind of
stuff and kind of put it all into context.
And then once I finished that,
it was, okay, what do I do now?
Okay, I better try and get some work.
Track 1: Right.
So you, you've done your film masters,
you walk through the gates to the
big wide world What are you thinking?
I mean, are you thinking at that point, I
really want to actually be a film composer
because you've put it into context?
Or are you thinking, I don't know anybody?
Or I mean, for me personally,
when I started, I have no clue.
I didn't know quite who
to contact or, or what.
Track 1: it for you?
I, you know, I think, you know,
going from engineering into
recorded engineering and then study,
you learn how to be personable.
and um, how to kind of get along
with people and embrace people
and have them embrace you.
So, I knew it was really a matter of
just, just meeting film people and
offering my, you know, my services and
luck, lucky for me, um, I managed to...
To get, I think, quite a few short
films straight off the bat, and then,
um, a feature film in my second year
out of college, you know, um, which is
an Albanian, an Albanian feature, uh,
comedy as well, so, yeah, for the first
year A few films that I scored were
comedies, um, which is, when I look
back now, is quite a challenge because
it involves different styles of music
throughout, you know, so I was kind of
bringing in all the training I'd had
up to that time in a film, you know.
Track 1: Yeah.
Yeah, did through your training
years, you had a set of contacts
that you kind of dove into or was it
largely just going out and networking?
It was just going out and networking
because I knew nobody, you know,
anybody in film, you know, um,
Track 1: peers, so other people
trying to do the same thing.
yeah, yeah, yeah.
There was a few of us on the course
and, you know, I think only, only
three of us are actually workingnow from, you know, early:
But, um, yeah, literally just, just, Get
out, you know, kiss babies, shake hands
and, and meet people, you know, and, and
Track 1: folks.
That's what you have to do.
that's what you have to do.
Track 1: Yeah.
The presidential campaign.
You know, and I'm fortunate enough
to, to teach down myself, you know,
I do some lecturing and I say the
same thing to my, my students, it's
not really so much about the music.
I mean, you're expected to
be able to write great music.
But, um, the thing that they don't teach
you is that you need to be able to, to
get along with people and, work with
people, work with different people, you
know, and kind of read the room those
soft skills are ones that you really need.
Track 1: right.
And that's led you to
collaborate with people as well.
I know you've, you've collaborated
on a number of things with, uh,
Frank Hilfman, who was a guest
Frank is, um, yeah, he's
a very close friend.
He's like, like a, like
a brother to me really.
Um, and yeah, but when, when
he, whenever he's in the studio,
I, I tend to tag along and.
You know, help with the producing
and, you know, be an extra
set of ears in the studio.
He had a documentary called Spear
Goes to Hollywood, um, which
he was scoring a few years ago.
And he brought myself and his
assistant, John Lou Pinson, on board.
And, together we, we scored that.
I think it was...
just prior to the COVID outbreak.
Um, it was quite, quite an intense
period, but, um, it was great to work
with him and, and, you know, learn how
he does things and, you know, vice versa.
So, yeah, wonderful experience.
But he's a good friend.
Track 1: It sounds like you've
been a sponge for just the any kind
of knowledge and experience just
and I'm still, and I'm still learning.
I'm still learning and still, still
have been that sponge, you know.
It's, it's good to just kind of
keep your, your, your ears open.
Keep yourself open to that.
Track 1: we're veering into
bits of advice here, aren't we?
chris-barnett_2_10-30-2023_133434: Ha ha
Track 1: why don't we, uh,
why don't we get into that?
Um, I do ask all of my guests to
leave an and a piece of advice in
the music room for others to find.
I didn't even ask.
Have you prepared an item
and a piece of advice?
I have a couple of items.
This is a bit like desert
island, island ist it?
Track 1: it?
chris-barnett_2_10-30-2023_133434: Um, can
it be, um, paper with some words on it?
Or does it have to be an actual thing?
Track 1: Well, paper with words
on it is a thing, isn't it?
So when I decided to embark on
this journey, I had, I had lots of
trepidation, you know, coming from
my background where we didn't know
how to even get started in the music
business because I didn't know anybody.
I didn't even know if, if I could
or was allowed to, you know, so I
came across this quote by Goethe.
Um, let's see if I can find it.
And it, it really inspired me,
and it goes um, he says, Until one
is committed, there is hesitancy.
The chance to draw back always
in effectiveness concerning all
acts of initiative and creation.
There is one elementary truth, the
ignorance of which kills countless
ideas and splendid plans that
the moment one definitely commits
oneself, then providence moves him.
All sorts of things occur to help one
that would never otherwise have occurred.
The whole stream of events.
Issues from the decision.
Raising in one's favor all manner of
unforeseen incidents and meetings and
material assistance Which no man could
have dreamed would have come his way.
So whatever you can do or dream you
can begin it Boldness has genius,
power and magic in it, begin it now.
And I always go back to this quote,
whenever I'm, you know, trying to figure
out whether, um, I can actually do
something or maybe I'm a bit tentative or
shy or, or, or afraid, fear, it's huge.
You know, and I know there are lots of
people who, who feel that, you know,
what we do is not for them because
they don't have the years of musical...
training or these sorts of things.
So just, just find that quote and
just keep it pegged on your wall.
So what I'm handing over is a
piece of paper with this quote,
pin it to your wall and just keep
reading it over and over again.
Track 1: that's brilliant.
I had goosebumps then.
Because this is it.
And other guests have said
similar things about get started.
You know, it's all very well.
Sitting in your head, but until you
get going and get that idea out,
Track 1: know, it's easy to
hide behind as well, isn't it?
I've got this great idea.
Track 1: not, it's not a
thing until you've made it.
Getting started is tough.
Track 1: Yeah, and getting over
that fear of failure, like you say,
that, that ties in as well.
That's going in the music room then.
Does your advice tie in with
that, or do you have a piece of
separate piece of advice would be to have
a very open mind to music, to explore.
One of the challenges I had when I
started my degree was, we did like a
year of learning 20th century music.
So, you know.
Wayburn and Berg and you know,
Sean Berg and all that stuff.
And at a time I really hated it.
You know, it was, it was excruciating
hearing all these screechy and, you know,
Track 1: extremes,
You know, look, you know, one, one task,
look at the, the wall and, and score
the wallpaper, you know, it's like.
Come on, what the, you know, I
was going to swear then, but my
love at the time was, was jazz.
I was heavily into jazz, but when
I look back now, I, I'm so grateful
for that time because it's really
opened me up to, to really being able
to, to write almost anything, you
know, um, and having the, the, the
courage to explore different things.
So that, that will be my
thing, you know, just.
Try to be open, um, to
anything that comes your way.
Don't, don't block it because you
say it's not my, not my thing.
Just explore it and then see
where the road takes you.
You know, I never expected to be a film
composer and yet here I am, you know?
Track 1: Wow.
Well that, I think, is a very
good place to round things up.
Christopher Barnett, thank you so
much for joining me in the music room.
you Gareth and, what you do is wonderful.
So yeah, keep going.
Track 1: Will do.
Gareth: Thanks for listening to
the Music Room podcast today.
If you'd like to know more about the
show or the community that surrounds
it, head to music room.community.
The link is in the show notes.