Bristol Old Vic: The House Is Open

Bristol Old Vic: The House Is Open

Short / Live

RTS Bristol Best Composer Nominee 2019

Created for the reopening of Bristol Old Vic's front of house after the 2018 redevelopment, The House Is Open is an Aardman short in collaboration with Limbic Cinema, celebrating the history of the theatre. It is projection-mapped onto the original 1766 wall, playing before the start of every evening show.

My music for this film was nominated under the Best Composer category at RTS Bristol

There are 3 main elements to the music - 'Diegetic Sound' from the on-screen action which forms rhythmic loops and accents, a piano and cello ostinato/riff which holds the whole thing together, and additional ensemble instruments which tell us which era we are in of the 250+ year story.

The diegetic sound opens with architecture stationery as the plans for the theatre are drawn up, moving into construction noises as the building takes shape, and various theatrical noises (floorboard creaks, actor vocal warmups and the curtains opening) as the film continues. The on-stage vocals become part of the musical ensemble later on. The music is written to sync as well as possible with the on-screen action, landing certain visual hits in time with the beat.

Since the film covers so much of the history, and chops through it at breakneck speed, I decided we needed a grounding central ostinato which would strike up as the curtains opened and continue underneath while the musical genres changed around it. We recorded live cello and piano in a pattern that generates the forward momentum of the music. Its almost architectural nature meant it was easy to drop or add additional rhythmic measures here and there in order to land tighter to important moments musically.

Finally, the changing ensemble around this ostinato takes us everywhere from early classical era chamber music, through swing and funk, as we hurtle forward in time to 2018 and the uplifting finale.