Een docent in Afrika, maar vooral een vriend

Eerder vroeg ik mij af of het verblijf en werk van Harry Gregson-Williams in Egypte en Kenia hem had geholpen bij het scoren van verscheidene films die zich in die regionen afspelen. Ik ben niet de enige, want in een interview over zijn werk voor Spy Game wordt de vraag ook gesteld. Het antwoord is verrassend:

You mentioned that you taught in Alexandria, and Africa – did your experience there help on Spy Game, with the Middle Eastern flavor?

It would be neat and romantic of me to say “yes”.  I did learn Arabic, because the children I was teaching didn’t speak English, and I became very accustomed to the calls to prayer and the sound of the streets of a place like Alexandria.  The thing that made a huge difference to the music that I composed for the Beirut sequences was finding, quite by chance, a vocalist who has become a good friend, and had a complete abandon about the way he sang. He had never done films or studio recordings, and because of that he had no fright or fear of being completely on the wrong planet.  I gave him some guidelines, and I had some recordings which were made on location when the film was being shot of some phrases and sounds that I was interested in recreating.  I had written a very straightforward and classical western strings accompaniment, and it was absolutely amazing when he came in and sang.

De vriend in kwestie is Khosro Ansari, die onder andere ook mee werkte aan Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.



Het was heel verrassend om te lezen hoe Harry Gregson-Williams tegen zijn score voor Spy Game aankijkt. In dit interview spreekt hij open en vrij over zijn twijfels bij het resultaat.

I feel very fortunate to have done the film, but I still worry a lot about it.  Tony is certainly one of a kind.  I didn’t really feel the force of it on Enemy of the State, since there were two of us composing, and we came in pretty late.  I think I was a pretty poor substitute for “the Z“, and I think Tony felt a bit let down.  And since that time, Hans has been with Tony’s brother, Ridley.  So I was fortunate on Spy Game – I don’t think the producers were that keen on me at first, but Tony went out on a limb for me – I didn’t do a demo or anything.

Zo erg zelfs dat hij zich bij de premiere van de film ongemakkelijk voelde.

Sitting at the premiere the other night I found it almost unbearable because there’s so much music, and in your face.  I knew it was going to be that way – I was at the dub so none of it surprised me. […] I have to shoulder some of that blame myself, I did spot the movie with Tony – but he’s so very clear about the amount of music.  To be honest, his visuals do lend themselves to a lot of underscore.  Frequently the old equation that “if a movie needs a lot of music, it’s probably lacking somewhere” is a truism – but I didn’t feel that on Spy Game.  It’s just that there were few places where music wouldn’t have helped.  I think I’ve learned a lot from that.  If we did it all again, I would probably try to be more assertive – and take a “less is more” approach.

Ik heb het wel een beetje met hem te doen.

Een docent in Afrika

In verscheidene interviews heb ik al gelezen dat Harry Gregson-Williams de passie heeft om kinderen les te geven in sport en muziek. Uit dit interview blijkt dat hij daarmee is begonnen in Egypte en Kenia nadat hij zijn scholing had afgerond.

After music school in London I turned to teaching the two things I enjoyed – Music & Sports. I lived and taught in Alexandria, Egypt for a couple of years where I learned to speak Arabic. After that I travelled through Africa to Kenya where I settled in the Rift Valley for a while – again teaching children music and games. If I have a vocation it is teaching.

Dit is interessant om verscheidene redenen. In de eerste plaats vanwege zijn werk aan films die zich afspelen in Afrika. Hierbij denk ik aan Kingdom of Heaven, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time en Spy Game. Daarnaast kwam ik er gisteren achter dat Harry ook de muziek heeft verzorgd bij de film Mr Pip met Hugh Laurie (die wel een beetje op Harry lijkt met z’n baard); deze film gaat over een docent in Afrika. Dat zal geen toeval zijn…