Dallas-based Stephen Arnold Music composed a wide-ranging musical theme for WETA UK, spanning classic and contemporary series while supporting the station’s theme: “British Television at its Best.”
The task WETA set before SAM was to compose a theme that “evoked the hallmarks of British television – quality, sophistication and authenticity” – while expanding viewer perceptions of the station.
“When people hear ‘British television,’ they often think of classic comedies from the 1980s,” said WETA UK Creative Director Dylan Wilbur in a statement. “What we offer is much broader. Our schedule includes modern mysteries and dramas with high production value, great writing and well-known actors. It’s a very different feel.”
To accomplish the goal, SAM had to write a theme that was wide-ranging and flexible, especially since the music will be incorporated into multiple promos highlighting different shows, themes and genres.
“The theme has a modular structure with bits of romance, mystery and drama woven through it,” said Stephen Arnold Music President Chad Cook, also in a statement. “We achieved that, not only through its dynamics and mood, its ebbs and flows, but also through distinctive instrumentation.”
The theme includes solos played on violin, saxophone, harpsicord and other instruments with the various sounds seeming to interact in conversation.
“The harpsicord has a very British sound and is a big player in the piece,” said Cook. “The string sections give it heart and passion. You also hear French horn, English horn and a piccolo trumpet. Each has its moments and, together, they give it a British-esque color.”
Many of the instruments and musicians in the piece are highlighted in the above reel and Cook adds that the full piece is designed to be editable into 60-, 30-, 15- and 10-second formats.
“One thing we had to bear in mind is that British series tend to have shorter runs than American TV series,” Wilbur said. “So, we needed a piece that would work with shows we are promoting today and with a slate of different shows a year or two from now.”
The theme music ties into sonic branding that Stephen Arnold Music produced last year for WETA, WETA UK’s parent and the flagship public broadcasting station based in Washington, DC. The sonic branding is used with each of WETA’s five sub-channels and the radio station WETA Classical.
“We’ve done several projects with Stephen Arnold Music,” said Wilbur. “Whatever creative challenge we present to them, they find the right solution.”