Friday, 11 November 2011

Confessions of an Über Nerd -- by Lori-Ann (Alto Saxophone)

I live in a place where the men are manly and so are the women.  I jest of course, but it is a place where logging trucks are more numerous than regular cars, people still hunt for their winter’s meat, and hockey is a religion and way of life.  In fact if you are not a hockey fan it is widely speculated that you must have been dropped on your head as a child.  Confession number one: I am not a hockey fan; oh, I do play, but more out of a need for exercise than any great passion.  In fact, I play so poorly that the five year old Timbits hockey players can out-skate me. You will certainly never catch me watching a game for the sheer pleasure of it.  I prefer to spend my time on other endeavours.  Confession number two: I am a card-carrying, fully paid-up, lifelong band geek.  I’ll play in any sort of group, community or otherwise, that will have me, but I have a particular affinity for concert bands and orchestras. There is nothing quite like the wonder of getting dozens of people together to produce one cohesive sound.  It may be tantamount to herding cats at times, but by golly, when it works, it’s magic.  My passion for music is perhaps rivalled by only one thing.  Confession number three: I am a certified Sci Fi nerd.  If it involves spaceships, extra-terrestrials, government conspiracies, mutants, robots, monsters, or awkward maladroits with poor social skills I’m probably a fan of it. 

And so here enters stage left, the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra, the perfect collision of my geek and nerd universes.  Once I was through kicking myself for having missed out on the first performance of “I Am The Doctor,” it was with great anticipation and excitement that I submitted my application for “This Is Gallifrey/Vale Decem.”  The subsequent wait to receive sheet music was agonizing.  I have never checked my e-mail more frequently or at more inappropriate moments.  In fact, at the very second that I received the e-mail notification that the sheet music and midi files were available, I was knee deep in a fetid swamp being eaten alive by ravenous mosquitos and horse flies (I may be of the wild and feral variety but I still carry a smartphone and you’d be surprised where you get service).  It was with great giddiness that I sloshed back to town that day.  My impatience got the better of me, though, and I was unable to wait to get home to look up the sheet music.  With a few furtive glances over my shoulder to where the entrance to the men’s washroom loomed (my desk is located in prime real estate next to the loos) I brought up the music on my work computer.  Needless to say I was so engrossed that I was eventually caught by a colleague who had indulged in too much coffee.  Lucky for me, my nerdy confession won the day and produced bellows of laughter instead of a stern rebuke.  When the laughter ebbed away, it was replaced with a sincere curiosity.  It seems even the most hardened of bush men can be swayed by the charm of Murray Gold’s music.

Which leads me to my final confession: when it comes to film and television I notice the music before the plot and I am fascinated by Murray Gold’s compositions.  I have spent many hours enraptured by the themes, motifs, and anthems he incorporates into his music.  It is clear that I am not alone in this regard if DWFO participation numbers are anything to go by.  So to all my fellow musicians I say greetings and salutations; keep the creative channels open.  And to Stephen Willis and Robin LaPasha I say thank you for the wonderful job you’ve done in putting this whole project together.  May the blue box one day alight on your doorstep.

Alto Saxophone


Saturday, 5 November 2011

What’s this? An online Fan Orchestra? For Doctor Who music? That’ll never work...

Hello. Maybe you’re here because you’re a member of the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra, or maybe because you’ve heard and appreciated our work. Or maybe you’re here by accident!

Now that you are here though – welcome. Someone suggested that the project should have a blog, so I decided to give it a try. In the future, you may see posts from me, Stephen Willis (founder and co-ordinator of the DWFO), or from Robin LaPasha (assistant co-ordinator and general friendly face), or even from members of the Orchestra. Incidentally, to keep updated with this blog, you can subscribe by email on the right-hand side – yep, just there... no, no, there... yeah.

So what is the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra? Well, for one thing, it’s exactly what it says on the tin – we are all Doctor Who fans, and we have formed an orchestra. But more than that – we are all passionate about Murray Gold’s music and its role in the revived series. One gloomy evening in early 2011, in Surrey, England, I was tinkering away in Sibelius on an arrangement of “I Am The Doctor”, the Eleventh Doctor’s theme, when a particularly crazy idea struck me. I knew that Murray’s music meant an awful lot to an awful lot of people, and I reasoned that, probably, among those fans, a lot would be musicians themselves. And that they’d give anything to be able to play music from Doctor Who. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if we could somehow play the music all together?

I’d heard vaguely of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. I remember hearing the phrase, and being very excited at the idea of an online orchestra, where people from all over the world could play together through the power of the internet. And then being very disappointed when I found out that the only involvement YouTube and the internet had in the project was for would-be participants to send in audition tapes of themselves playing solo, for selection to then travel to a venue on a specific date and give a concert together.

But the seed of that idea had obviously stayed in the back of my mind, because, when I started pondering the sheer number of dedicated fans Murray Gold has, it didn’t seem that far-fetched that we could somehow band together and express our love of his music through online “performance”. After all, multi-track recording is commonplace, and has been for a good few decades now. Was it really that outlandish to suggest that amateur musicians from different countries could home-record their individual parts, and send them in by email to be mixed?

I made a tentative post on the Gallifrey Base forum, to test the waters... offering the caveat that I was well aware that this was highly ambitious, and was likely to fall flat on its face! Very quickly, though, people started to express their interest. A common theme was, “Awesome! I’ve wanted to do something like this for SO LONG!!! :D”

Eight months later, here we are. The Doctor Who Fan Orchestra has now produced two performances, having grown from 36 performers in “I Am The Doctor” to 78 in “This Is Gallifrey / Vale Decem”. I cannot say how pleased I am with how well this project has turned out, and continues to be turning out. Thanks to all participants for being interested, for recording your parts and having fun while doing it (and persevering on those tricky few bars...!). Thanks to Robin for keeping me sane throughout the whole thing, for being ever-helpful in the Facebook group and for generally banging the drum (and cymbals!) for the project. And thanks so, so much to Mr. Murray Gold, for writing this wonderful, gorgeous music in the first place, and for helping to get us “out there” on Twitter etc. 

So in answer to the question – this is who we are. As The Daily What put it, we are “a collection of musicians who collaborate across time and space”. And it just goes to show that, no matter how ridiculous an idea may seem, nothing is impossible. And yes – we all have a lot of fun recording our parts and meeting the other members... but the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra is almost a metaphor. A metaphor for how grateful we all are for this music, and how far we are willing to go, against the odds, to stand together and show our appreciation. Here's to the next piece - the beautiful "Rose's Theme" and "Doomsday"!