Composer – Phil Mountford
About The Composer
Phil Mountford is a film and classical composer. Most notably he has scored the soundtracks to films such as Vendetta (Danny Dyer) and Breakdown (Craig Fairbrass) as well as drama documentaries for film and TV such as Journey To Le Mans (Partick Stewart) and Battle Lines.
From a young age he studied the electronic organ alongside his interest in using computers to assist in music development in the 1980’s. After graduating with a degree in Software Engineering he initially pursued a career as a computer programmer but later started composing for film and then developing his classical style studying composition privately with Lee Differ. He has had several film soundtrack albums released as well as writing for children’s theatre and advertising.
He is also recognised for his work as Musical Director, composer and arranger for his critically acclaimed ensemble Fordante. His ensemble have received several awards from Arts Council England to assist the group in the promotion of light classical music to new and existing audiences throughout the UK.
His full website can be found at philmountford.com.
Composing The Suite For The Fallen Soldier
“I was approached in the spring of 2014 to compose a piece of music to help commemorate 1914-1918 war and its impact on the village and community of Feckenham. Although more familiar with writing music for film and theatre I jumped at the opportunity of writing for full SATB choir particularly on such an emotive subject. Initially the concept was to score one piece of around ten minutes, however, after discussion with the community, we decided on a suite of music following the fictional story of a soldier from enlistment to his first experience of the battlefield, from the horrors of the war to his death and then the thoughts of the modern community 100 years later.
I have been immensely moved by my reading round this project and the occasional tear was shed. I have tried to capture some of this sentiment in my lyrics and music and through Kathy’s most eloquent prose. Although I do not pretend to be lyricist, I hope my lyrics are spiritual, evocative and accessible so that every listener can involve themselves in the music.
One of the objectives of the project was to write at an appropriate level of challenge for community choirs. Another was to create sections that could be reused individually. The pieces are relatively short and, with the inclusion of Kathy’s letters, create a new format which we have called a ‘narrative suite’.
Working with the communities I’ve often been asked how I wrote the music for The Fallen Soldier. There’s no single answer but, whatever the piece, I would ask the same questions. What do I want this piece to ‘say’? How long is the piece going to be? What is the story arc?
Some of the pieces were written as though I was composing a war film in my head. Other melodies followed the creation of a single phrase. Where a text already existed, I created a melody to work with the text. Often musical ideas developed while walking through the Shropshire countryside. On my return to the studio I would then play on the computer and start developing and manipulating these motifs and ideas, structuring them into larger forms. When composing music, one of the most important considerations is balance. Are the melodies easy enough for a first listening? Is there sufficient interest for repeated hearings? Is the music too challenging for the listener or choir? Does the music develop with good structure? But most importantly am I being honest and honoring the subject matter?
There was a danger in making this suite overly melancholy. Including the soldier’s happier times gave an opportunity to express the more joyful part of his, albeit too short, life. However, when researching, reading and later composing, I could not fail to be moved by the tragedy of this soldier’s situation so sentiment and emotion are central to this suite.
I have tried to put myself in the position of the soldier and, although he was merely a character in my imagination at the start of the process, by the end of the suite he was a very definite presence and was responsible for shaping the text and music. I therefore feel bound to dedicate this suite to The Fallen Soldier and the regrettable, unfortunate many who traveled a similar path.”
Phil Mountford, Oct 2016