About this Recording
8.557466 - BANKS: Seven

Tony Banks (b

Tony Banks (b. 1950)

Seven: A Suite for Orchestra


The idea of writing for an orchestra had been in my mind since the recording of the music soundtrack for the film The Wicked Lady‚ back in the early eighties. At that time I had an existing piano piece which became the main theme, that took on a whole new character when it was orchestrated. This inspired me to want to create more music this way using only an orchestra, with the only addition being possibly a piano. With the film score, I had written the music on the piano, which was then orchestrated, and although most of the pieces worked well, some sections ended up further from the original concept than I would have liked. This time I wanted to make sure that the pieces ended up being a true representation of what I had originally written, even though I knew I was going to need the help of an orchestrator. I therefore recorded fairly detailed demos of the pieces, which I then gave to Simon Hale, the orchestrator of this suite, with the brief to make the music intelligible to orchestral players. The idea was to keep faithfully to the structure, and not to change any melodies, chords or other elements, but to have some freedom with instrumentation, and the use of additional arrangement ideas, to make the result convincing. There were obviously some ideas that worked better than others and it was not until we were actually recording with the orchestra that this became apparent. Having worked for over thirty years in the studio recording with Genesis and others, I was unprepared for the method of working in this situation. In the time the group would take to have perhaps got their instruments working, the orchestra is expected to have done a finished recording of maybe twenty minutes of music of which they previously had no knowledge. At the same time we were making frantic changes to the score, both to correct typographical errors and more importantly to improve parts. Then there were also decisions to be made in terms of tempo and expression, which had to be communicated to the conductor and then to the players. This proved too much to do in the time available, so after recording four pieces and listening to them many times afterwards I realised I would have to start again. I went in much better prepared the next time, enlisting the help of Nick Davis, who has been involved in my last few studio projects, as co-producer. I tried to make sure that everything from our end was as finished as possible, and that the conductor had a clear idea what was intended, and although it was still very intense work, everything seemed to come together more easily. Also, having been through the process once, I knew more what to expect and was therefore able to enjoy the recording and be much happier with the result.


Of the seven pieces in this suite, five were written specifically for this project, the other two being ideas from the past that I had always thought would work well with an orchestra. The Gateway was in fact written some twenty years ago as a possible idea for a film theme that was never used. The other older piece, Neap Tide, I originally recorded a version of at the time of the album Strictly Inc. The suite opens with Spring Tide, one of three pieces to feature the piano, and the one in which it is most prominent, although even here it is still very much part of the orchestra. The second piece here, Black Down‚ the name of a local hill, is the one that really started this project; I just wanted to hear how it would sound using real strings as opposed to a synthesizer. After that the rest came fairly quickly, and the final piece to be written was The Ram. I wanted something more rhythmic and up-tempo, with a more optimistic conclusion. Earthlight is really a theme with simple variations. The original theme written actually appears here as the first variation, the major key version although coming later, seemed the better one to start and end with. Simon added the semi-quaver violas accompanying the middle part, which looked very doubtful on paper, but which in the end sound very effective and natural. The suite closes with The Spirit of Gravity, which travels through a number of different musical ideas only to end up finally just where it began.


Tony Banks


Tony Banks


Tony Banks is a founder member of the rock group Genesis, having been keyboard player and composer through all of its various incarnations. The group was originally a five-piece, (including Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford) which was formed at Charterhouse School in Surrey. Later, after one or two comings and goings, they were joined by drummer Phil Collins and guitarist Steve Hackett, and became one of the major exponents of progressive rock music in the early 1970s with such albums as Selling England by the Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. With Phil Collins taking over as lead singer after the departure of Peter Gabriel in 1975, and the later departure of Steve Hackett in 1977, the band, as a three-piece, became one of the most commercially successful bands in the world with a string of number one albums including Invisible Touch and We Can’t Dance. The final incarnation came after Phil Collins left in the mid-1990s and resulted in the release of Calling All Stations in 1997. Throughout its existence Genesis has been just as well known for its live shows that have combined the music with elaborate visuals, first playing small clubs and theatres in the 1970s, and then arenas and stadiums in the 1980s and 1990s. During this time Tony Banks has also recorded five solo albums, A Curious Feeling (1979), The Fugitive (1983), Bankstatement (1989), Still (1991) and Strictly Inc (1995). In addition he has also composed the soundtracks for the films The Shout (with Mike Rutherford), The Wicked Lady, Lorca and the Outlaws, and Quicksilver. An album combining the music from these last two films called Soundtracks was released in 1986, and the music from The Wicked Lady was issued as a record in 1983.



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