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21st November, 2014

New BBC series filmed at City’s Department of Music

Historic performances recreated on camera for Sound of Song

City University London’s Department of Music has been used as the filming location for a brand new BBC documentary series. Sound of Song will explore the history and development of popular music recording. The three-part series will be broadcast on BBC 4 in January 2015.

Musicians were filmed recreating historical recording practices and demonstrations of contemporary digital processes in the Performing Space and Recording Studio in the basement of College Building.

Sequences from the works of Irving Berlin, Phil Spector, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and Lieber & Stoller were performed on the Department’s Steinway piano.

“We have always had strong external links with the music industries,” said Dr Miguel Mera, Deputy Head of Music, “but it is especially pleasing to be working on this project with the BBC, not least because the writer and presenter, Neil Brand, has performed in our concert series and has given guest lectures to our students. Also, this documentary focuses on the close interaction between music and technology, which has been a core concern of the Department of Music at City since its inception 40 years ago.”

Neil Brand commented on the collaboration: “We’ve had a great time filming here in these wonderful facilities. We have had access to everything we needed in one very convenient space and the result is better than I could have hoped.”

Series producer Alastair Williams commented: “The City Performance Space was ideal for our needs. It gave us an opportunity to re-enact and produce our own musical moments from the history of recorded music. So we recreated the Edison Tone Test and gathered a band together to record acoustically as they did in 1906 on wax cylinders. In the recording studio we made our own version of the song ‘Believe’ by Cher to illustrate how Pro-Tools and Auto-Tune can change the Sound of Song. These were fascinating and productive days exploring a century of recorded sound.”

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