Last Sunday I travelled down to the rural setting of Englishcombe (near Bath) to participate in the ‘ Winter Wonder’. This is the Florin Street Band’s follow up video to ‘My Favourite Time of Year’ and has been eagerly anticipated by many fans of the original Christmas song. The composer behind the project is Leigh Haggerwood who is also a talented multi instrumentalist and producer. Leigh wrote the music and lyrics for both songs, as well as undertaking all of the scoring and production. We first met him when he contracted some of us to record the strings for ‘My Favourite Time of Year’ at Sarm West Studios and since then, we have been delighted to have contributed to other songs by Leigh, including ‘Winter Wonder’ where real strings were required throughout the track.
Leigh adopts a highly visual approach to his music and often has a specific storyline in mind. This can be very detailed and as such, he had a very specific idea of the look of the video, as well as the choreography of individual sequences. My role in all this was to follow up my appearance as the Victorian busker in ‘My Favourite Time of Year’ by appearing as a performing member of the Florin Street Band on stage in ‘Winter Wonder’. The live band provide a backdrop to festivities which include dancing, drinking ale, general festive merriment and partying.
Interestingly, the video was filmed at a speed 11% quicker than the music was recorded. This is a technique frequently employed by cinamatographers to create a particular look to the film. However, miming is never straightforward and in order to achieve an accurate result, the bow I used during the filming was especially unrosined, so as not to make any sound whilst miming – and importantly not to annoy all the other members of the cast /crew during several hours of filming. The same technique with an unrosined bow was used when four of us were called in to be filmed (as a string quartet) for a television drama a couple of months ago. The problem with unrosined bows is they have no traction, tend to skate around on the strings, and are therefore quite difficult to control, particularly during intricate violin solos. When making the Winter Wonder, I realised it had been easier to record the solo for real in the studio than to mime it later on, which may seem odd!
The whole shoot seemed to go well and the musicians were required for around 7 hours overall. It has to be said that it was a fairly cold 7 hours, as a proposed heater (fed into the barn via a pipe) was deemed to block a fire exit and had been disallowed, so no heating was available in a chilly barn in December. Nevertheless, it was all worthwhile and we hope that the Florin Street project goes from strength to strength!