Monday, October 27, 2008

Music to paint by

I am totally unable to paint without music and usually, when painting Sudan British happily listen to the Complete Marches of Kenneth Alford (alright Alford, real name Fredrick Joseph Ricketts, wasn't born until 1882 but it sounds right) on my computer. Whilst painting Highlanders I also have some Scottish military music but, honestly, there is only so much bagpipe music I can bear. I was very pleased, therefore, to acquire this weekend a cd of the soundtrack for the film Khartoum (1966) with music by Frank Cordell (1918-1980). The score is a mix of cod Walton and Elgar and Islamic (well, "Egyptian") sounding music. John Williams, when writing about the music for the throne room scene of Star Wars (1977) said that he wanted an English feel like Elgar. Frankly, he must have been thinking of Cordell's overture to Khartoum; the similarities are, er, remarkable. As to the "Egyptian" sound, the whole exotic "Egyptian" scale, with its flattened supertonic was invented by Verdi for Aida (it's about as authentic as Sir Walter Scott's version of Scotland) but everyone since has used it from Maurice Jarre in Lawrence of Arabia to Jerry Goldsmith in The Mummy.

Anyway it makes a change from all those wailing bagpipes (it does quote Highland Laddie)!


Giles said...

Excellent news! This score was ripe for release. Incidentally, Robert Farnon's music for "Captain Horatio Hornblower RN" was released on Dutton a while ago - more good painting music. Talking of which, I noticed the other week that some enterprising label has released a recreation of the music used at Nelson's funeral; I must track that down...

But you can't beat a bit of Walton. I listened to "Troilus and Cressida" the other day and realised I'd forgotten what an underrated piece it is. And everytime I listen to "Henry V" I want to go and buy the Perries' Agincourt figures!

Anonymous said...

Dear Hedlius,

Great site!

Do you know if the Perry figures are suitable for the Tel-el-Kebir campaign in Egypt? I just love the red coats still being worn.

Do you know if the British carried colours into action then?

Thanks in anticipation.


Anonymous said...

And try painting Romans to the music of Spartacus!


legatus hedlius said...

The Highlanders and Naval Brigade are fine for Tel el Kebir but the infantry aren't quite right. The earlier infantry for the Egyptian War of 1882 wore ankle gaiters rather than the loose trousers over boots for the Perry figures. The Empress miniatures figures for the Zulu war are much closer (and compatible with the Perry figures) although technically the helmets from the Perry figures would be right because of the pugarees (which the Zulu war perios figures didn't have).

Anonymous said...

Dear Hedlius,

Thanks. That is helpful to know.


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Great music