There is a congregation singing a hymn in chapel at one point in the play, there is a burst of ‘In An English Country Garden’ at another, and ‘I do like to be beside the sea’ when the conscientious objectors are surprised, once they’ve been shipped to France, by being given 24 hours liberty in Boulogne (to ‘think things over’ – whether they really want to carry their protest all the way to the threat of being court-martialled).
It occurred to me that it would be so much better to get my musical mates to record these songs and music rather than get impersonal archive recordings. So we gathered round my house one evening with Mark Noble, the sound designer, and Sally Davies played a lovely violin rendition of ‘Country Garden’, Martina Schwarz played a joyful burst of French accordion to signify the journey to the other side of the channel, and the singers gave a beautiful rendition of a hymn in four part harmony.
The singers then sang ‘Seaside’ with great gusto, when Martina piped up, ‘I can play that on the accordion as well, if you want.’
‘But you’ve packed it away now, haven’t you?’ I said. Not a problem. She took it out, we settled on the right key, and ‘Seaside’ sounded even better with six singers and its accordion backing.
As a bonus, the gang were also happy to record a few non-musical moments – gasps of
astonishment when Bertrand Russell is sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, and cries of ‘Case dismissed!’ when numerous C.O.s are given short shrift at their tribunal hearings.
Along with the skylarks I recorded in Norfolk the other week, this means we have barely given the sound recording libraries a second thought.
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