23rd November 2018
Edith is a short film written by Ray Robinson (Electricity) and directed by Christian Cooke (The Art of More, Ordeal by Innocence) about the loneliness of an elderly man, played by Peter Mullan (Tyrannosaur, Westworld).
I wrote the soundtrack for it, way back in 2016. Since then it's been doing an impressive run on the festival circuit, and made the BAFTA long-list. It is now available to view online for free via Vimeo.
30th October 2018
Richard and Creative Technologist Tom Armitage created an innovative way for Jon to take the music on tour without a live band or any audio equipment.
At the start of each performance, Jon would tell his audience to keep their phones on, turn the volume up, and visit his tour webpage. On this webpage, audio would automatically download to audience's phones, and play when triggered by Jon's remote on his own phone. Each of the audience's devices would play a separate instrument from each piece, constructing a moving, communal surround-sound experience.
Reservoir 13 (Music for the Novel by Jon McGregor) is released on Ltd. CD and digitally by Time Travel Opps on November 30th 2018 on all streaming/download platforms.Pre-order on Bandcamp Pre-order on iTunes Listen on Spotify
24th October 2018
Today Richard announces the release of his Official Soundtrack to Jon McGregor's novel Reservoir 13, the Costa Novel of the Year 2017 (and Booker long-listed, an FT and Observer book of the year).
The EP's six tracks were commissioned by the author to take on his book tour, to soundtrack his live readings, and were recorded in Derbyshire with his string trio as well as Amber Valley neighbours Haiku Salut.
Listen to the first track, At Midnight below!
22nd October 2018
Abbey Road Masters is a new label based at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, releasing production music albums recorded live with the best musicians and engineers, with the best gear, in the best sounding rooms in the world.
I've been honoured to write and produce music for this label, and have contributed to three albums now available at Universal Production Music.
Over the course of five days recording there, I've heard some of the most beautiful sounds ever. Highlights for me include Emilie's pin-drop quiet piano piece Yesterday Again, Michael Price's overlapping felt pianos on Timeless Figures, and Samuel Sim's achingly beautiful string arrangement on Arctic One.
Without a doubt, the most beautiful sound I have ever heard was in Studio One during Rob Lane and Christian Henson's session. Ross Selwood and I sat on the balcony in the live room to listen to the choir. We couldn't hear the track, just the voices, and that natural reverb. Total and utter heaven.
You can hear my compositions on the following albums:
Recorded in Studio 2 with the London Contemporary Orchestra. Featuring Michael Price, Samuel Sim and more.
Three treated pianos, recorded in Studio 2. Featuring Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch and Dominic Storrs-Fox.
Drums, guitars, bass and brass, live in Studio 2.Visit Abbey Road Masters
23rd August 2018
This weekend Haiku Salut and Richard will join Jon McGregor at Greenbelt Festival for the final show of the Reservoir 13 book tour.
The band will perform Richard's soundtrack to the novel, backing Jon's reading, in the Little Big Top stage on Monday 27th August.
The setlist will also feature segments from Reservoir 13 prequel The Reservoir Tapes.
Richard has also been readying the soundtrack for release (with added string section) before the end of 2018. More on that very soon.
Photo credit: Philip Formby, taken at Reservoir 13 launch performance @ Nottingham Contemporary
5th August 2018
I was back in Abbey Road Studio 2 last week to record a number of pieces for a piano-centric album, on a soon-to-be-announced brand new production music library.
We worked with pianist Nathan Williamson and London Contemporary Orchestra arranger Hugh Brunt, and had the choice of three pianos:
Mrs. Mills (Steinway Upright) - with optional cotton treatment
Challen upright - with optional felt treatment
So with those treatment options we could layer up five different piano sounds. The mics on each piano were piped into the Studio 2 echo chamber, and also back into a vintage EMI TG12345 for a saturated signal. Oh, and then back into the isolation booths for re-amping in vintage VOX amps.
We were pretty spoiled for choice, and Nathan was a fantastic performer for all composers involved.
23rd June 2018
This week sees the release of a new podcast called A Lonely Isle.
A Lonely Isle is a collection of anecdotes about Rockall, a remote island in the Atlantic ocean. Each chapter is based on accounts written by visitors over the last two hundred years.
Each episode features an original score for piano and strings by Richard J. Birkin.
The music will be collected on a Soundtrack Mini-Album to be released on 27th July 2018. Listen to the Podcast
8th June 2018
The soundtrack to Paulo Sorrentino's new film LORO is out now via Indigo Film. It's a double album featuring the soundtrack by Lele Marchitelli as well as other music used in the film, including Richard's piano piece Vigil V, from Vigils.Listen on Spotify Buy on Amazon
26th April 2018
Richard's track 'Vigil VI' is the soundtrack to the BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime version of Jon McGregor's novel Reservoir 13 (Costa Novel of the Year 2018).
This follows Richard writing an original soundtrack for the novel, commissioned by the author to take on tour. Richard's track Vigil I soundtracking The Reservoir Tapes, also for BBC Radio 4.
Both Vigil I and Vigil VI are available on the album Vigils (Reveal Records, 2016)
6th April 2018
The really quite wonderful new album from dream-pop songwriter Grawl!x hits the shelves today on vinyl, via Reckless Yes Records.
Most of the tracks on this one feature string arrangements by Richard. The pianos were also recorded at Richard's Derbyshire studio.
1st February 2018
Congratulations to Jon McGregor on winning the Costa Novel of the Year 2017! Totally deserved.
“Hypnotic, compelling and original – this stunning novel simply blew us away.”
At some point this year I will release the soundtrack to the novel. You can still hear that music as Jon continues his book reading tour, and there will hopefully be another full band live show before Jon finishes promoting the novel.
24th January 2018
I spent the first week of 2018 in London recording at the mighty Abbey Road Studio 2 with the London Contemporary Orchestra players (string quartet + piano).
Man, what a place. What a reverb! What a microphone collection!
I'll be heading back here every couple of months to complete new recordings for different albums of production music for a brand new library.
3rd October 2017
Earlier this year I wrote a soundtrack for Jon McGregor's new (and Booker-longlisted) novel Reservoir 13, published by 4th Estate. Shortly after the release of the novel, BBC Radio 4 commissioned Jon to create 15 prequel stories for radio.
The episodes air at 19:45 every Sunday (starting the Sunday just gone) and feature music taken from my album Vigils.
"A series of specially-commissioned stories on BBC Radio 4, The Reservoir Tapes returns to the territory of the Booker-longlisted Reservoir 13, revealing the web of connections that bind us, and the many layers on which we all build our truths."
A book containing versions of the 15 stories will be released in December this year.
21st September 2017
It's about a couple on holiday in Japan who have a bit of a marital crisis. Their marriage is saved, and their world view changed forever by a simple act of kindness by a total stranger.
15th September 2017
Over the summer I've been writing the strings for Grawlix's dreamy third album 'Appendix', due out next year on Reckless Yes.
A couple of weeks ago we recorded the arrangements with a quartet of players from Derby's Sinfonia Viva. Here's some shots of the session taken by Russell Deirdre:
2nd December 2016
This Autumn I put together a trio to see how we could perform songs from Vigils without a string quartet. We emptied out my studio and worked on the lighting too. It's really nice to play these pieces with other people too, since they were all written in isolation.
16th November 2016
This month I wrote a new piece for a special short documentary for CNN's Great Big Story. It's a piece for piano, string trio, acoustic guitar and synth.
The film follows a food blogger taking a "spirited journey to Kyoto's most isolated restaurant" and features some wonderful traditional style Japanese animation by Studio 4°C.
Read more here.
7th November 2016
On Friday I was down in London at St. John at Hackney, performing live at BBC Radio 3's Open Ear Concert. The show was live on air, and you can listen back here. I was performing using my new Modern Music Box, Twinklr. You can read more about that here. I played two tracks: 1. A live solo reworking of one of my string quartet pieces, Night Sun, from Vigils. 2. An improvisation, starting with a blank screen on Twinklr, adding notes as I went along. That was a nice feeling - creating a sparse and innocent tune on the spot in a darkened church full of people.
2nd November 2016
Paolo Sorrentino’s new HBO series The Young Pope began last week. I watched it and was blown away. Not just by Jude Law’s performance, but the beauty of the production is unparalleled. Episodes 3 & 4 (due to air back to back in the UK this week) features my track Night Sun as part of the soundtrack. Really proud to be involved in this series. Night Sun is taken from my album Vigils.
6th October 2016
Edith, the short film I recently wrote the soundtrack for, has been selected for this year’s prestigious and BAFTA recognised film festival Aesthetica.
If you’re going, the film will be on at these places on these days at these times:
City Screen (Screen 1) – Friday – 10:30 – 12:00
York Theatre Royal (Studio) – Saturday – 13:15 – 14:45
Yorkshire Museum – Sunday – 11:30 – 13:00
Watch the trailer for Edith:
30th July 2016
Earlier this year I composed the score to a beautiful short film called ‘Edith’. The trailer above features ‘Vigil I’ from my album Vigils.
Edith explores the heartbreaking inevitability that is old age. Written by novelist Ray Robinson, whose work has been shortlisted for both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Authors’ Club First Novel Award. His novel Electricity has also recently been adapted for screen and premiered at the BFI Film Festival. This is Ray’s debut screenplay. This is the directorial debut for actor Christian Cooke who continues to emerge as one of Hollywood’s most engaging and sought after talents with showcasing roles in Cemetery Junction, Hello Carter and Romeo & Juliet.
Peter Mullan (Trainspotting, War Horse, Tyrannosaur) takes the starring role of haunted Jake with Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Suits) as his Sheila. Supporting cast includes Elliott Tittensor (Shameless) and Sia Bennett (Mr Selfridge).
Executively produced by Mat Whitecross and Fiona Neilson, whose credits boast the fantastic 24 Hour Party People and Spike Island, this high concept, endearing short film was shot early 2016.
It’s doing the rounds of film festivals and special screenings this year. Once it’s online I’ll post about it.