The Dracula Soundtrack
The Dracula Soundtrack came to life in February 2010 when i was approached by Carol Vincent-Smythe and asked to write music score for her forthcoming play later that year.
I agreed and began writing my first piece named ‘Lucy’s Dream’.
When i received a transcription of the script which was in a synopsis state at this time, it became very apparent that I had no clear understanding of the fact that Dracula was actually a love story. It had never occurred to me that I should have looked at it from this angle.
My approach to writing was to sit at the piano for about 5 hours while reading through the script trying to visualize the scenes in my head. So, from this 5-hour session Lucy’s dream was born, together with so many other pieces of music but at this stage it wasn’t the complete plan.
Within a period of a few weeks I had written the Lucy’s dream, had many conversations with Carol regarding the script and more issues I came across.
Carol’s original idea was to arrange for a quartet of some sort live within the auditorium for the production but knew from her vast experience that a quartet wouldn’t be able to deliver really powerful music in some areas.
This is where I came in. She dismissed the whole idea of having the quartet after me submitting the dream to her and asked me if I wanted to work on the whole score.
I gladly accepted. Obviously I began to look at the project from a new angle and I got deeply involved with the ‘Dracula the Soundtrack’. I came up with a great plan, it amazes me even now how this project evolved from a very small seed into something big I never expected in the beginning.
The next piece of music I worked on was ‘The Wolf Attack’, running alongside ‘Lucy’s Dream’. I went through the script and made highlights to the scenes that required music.
All my communication with Carol was done over the phone and through emails right up to the production. Working with Carol was absolutely wonderful; she really inspired me with her constant enthusiasm and creative input. We had many inspiring conversations.
I started with the theme, while at the same time thinking about characters, tangos and waltz, which we had discussed at great length and Romanian folk music of course.
So I decided to focus and looked at the whole project as an entity, then split it into sections.
I wanted the show to have a great beginning. Since I have the experience of being a live sound engineer I know the importance of the right mood setting prior to the show. So I came to the conclusion the show actually needed to start at the house opening.
I wrote a whole 15 min prelude, which entailed Jonathon Harkers’ journey from London to the Carpathian mountains in Romania where he stayed for the night. This is where the play starts.
Within this I wrote 3 pieces of music and a whole soundscape with steam trains, ambient areas, stations, markets, horses, carriages etc. The pieces of music where titled ‘France’, ‘Travelling Through Eastern Europe’ and ‘A Different Life’.
The ‘France’ track didn’t make it on to the album. I did use just the piano entry on the prelude and I decided to add the orchestra and some soundscape too along with the voiceover from Carol which we recorded with a view to releasing the whole play as a production for Radio or an Audio Book.
After the 3 tracks we went on the final carriage ride to the Carpathians, from this carriage ride fading out we jumped back to London with Big Ben in the background just to guide the audience as this was all audio. It’s amazing how you have to steer peoples’ imagination with just audio, it’s obviously so much easier with visuals.
V J Thompson played Renfield in the production, he was on the stage for the whole of 15 minutes while the audience were getting seated under a black blanket downstage. Nobody actually realized until the play started, it was a very nice touch.
From this scene we moved back to Romania. This is where Gypsy comes in. I researched Romanian folk music for a few weeks. The play was set in the 1930’s, so from the start I decided to go for a Symphonic approach but Gypsy however was written in the traditional Romanian style.
I contacted Julian Gregory
and talked to him about the track “gypsy”. I managed to put a structure together and emailed it to him. A week later I got an email back, with an MP3 attached. I listened to it and couldn’t believe how 1st class this player was, so I finished the arrangement and booked Julian in for a Recording session.
I needed to be clear as to what other tracks I needed Solo Violin for. At this time I had ‘Travelling Through Eastern Europe’ and previous track written except for the Gypsy Violin part.
We managed to record the Gypsy and TTEE tracks, and during our lunch I had a thought that I should get Julian to play a solo part for the death scene which I had loosely written 2 months before.
We had 15minutes after lunch to record the part 2 takes and it was done. Now, at this point I had no idea how valuable that last 15-minute session was going to be. In fact it shaped the whole Dracula and Mina Character pieces in the end, throughout the Album.
I would like to thank to Julian Gregory
and Paul Doherty
for all their support and tremendous contributions to this album.
Also special thanks go to following people:
Laurence Blackadder -
He always referred to himself as my ‘vessel’. I was quite particular about the bass parts and had written them prior to Laurence playing on the tracks. It was such a pleasure working with you, Laurence, and hope again soon.
Julie Matthews -
I’ve known Julie for 15 years now. I was her sound engineer for 8 years and have also done many studio albums with her. ‘My Secret Place’ was originally recorded on The Albion Band Album ‘Demi Paradise’ in 1995.
I suggested this track to Carol for the Lucy/Mina Scene in the play. She agreed and I contacted Julie to get her permission but at the same time I suggested she sang the lead vocal. It became one of my favourite tracks thanks to the incredible performance by Julie Matthews & Chris While.
, called “Smoz” - I talked to Smoz about my ideas for the project. I made a decision I wanted to break the play somehow. Therefore I came up with ‘The Lamb of Love’ track.
Smoz wrote the lyrics for me, he really did his research well. I love his writing, he is capable of describing so much without being too obvious. Our collaboration went so well. Thank you Smoz, it was an absolute pleasure working with you.
Last but not least, Sam Barnett
for playing electric guitars on ‘The Lamb of Love’.
This is the 3rd time I’ve worked with Sam now, every time he delivers exactly what is required. Not just the notes but his phrasing is impeccable. Thanks Sam, until next time!
A very special thank you goes to Eastwest Soundsonline
for ‘Play Symphonic Orchestra Platinum Complete Plus’ and ‘Quantum Leap Piano’.
I couldn’t have made this album without the work of Nick Pheonix, Doug Rogers
and Professor Keith o’Johnson.
Select the image below to view the Dracula music video: The Lamb of Love