Zomerhitte (Summer Heat) - Christian Henson

Christian Henson is a talented British composer, best known for his scores such as Severance, Les Fils du Vent, Chasing Liberty and Scorpion. In the past he did ocasionnally some drum- and music programming for several scores, working with composers like Anne Dudley, Rupert Gregson-Williams and his brother, Harry Gregson-Williams. Recently he wrote music for a Dutch film called Zomerhitte (Summer Heat), directed by the Dutch cineast Monique van der Ven.

Before Henson was brought aboard, the filmmakers were already playing around with music. In may 2007, film editor Job ter Burg was doing some musical orientation in the area of sexual thriller scores, on which I also suggested several titles. After several months, they still hadn’t found the right tone for what they wanted the music to be, but they had made a lot of progress. A temp score was made in the process, which included a variety of different scores (Spy Game, Les Fils du Vent, Speed, Basic Instinct, Das Leben der Anderen, Crash, Bounce, ...). Henson did a terrific job at avoiding the kind of obvious temp track copying. They contracted the composer around halfway through September and he delivered the finished score at the end of November.

Zomerhitte (Summer Heat)
Christian Henson

The reason for hiring him, according the editor was as follows: "Even though they had thought of many composers, they wanted to look beyond the Netherlands. Producer Ate de Jong, who lived and works in London for years, searched for interesting upcoming talents, both in the UK as well as US. Great European composers are hard to get for such a relatively small Dutch film. Amongst the upcoming English composers, we found Christian Henson, from whom we heard great work."

MainTitles had the opportunity to ask Christian Henson several questions about Zomerhitte.

MT: We would like to congralate you with your fine music for Zomerhitte. Very well done!
Could you tell us something about the process in general?

CH: Thanks for your kind compliments. Your first question requires a very long answer, I'll try to be brief. Initially I watched some key sequences from the film, these were sent to me with view to me being engaged on the project. I then met the production team and director in Amsterdam where we watched more of the film. I took them a "mood cd", a compilation of tracks of music from other films that I thought summed up the spirit of their movie. I then worked on the key themes of the piece and decided upon line up, this was based on budget and discussions that I'd had with Monique. I presented these ideas to the team again in amsterdam at which point we "spotted" the movie. This is where one decides where the music goes and what it's going to do. I then set about scoring to picture and through a series of screenings here at my studio in London revised the score so it was ready to be orchestrated.

We recorded at Air Studios (George Martin's brilliant facility in North London), and mixed there also. We recorded a session of strings, a medium sized band of 30 players, then a violins only session, then a string quartet. We also had three featured musicians on the score being Philip Sheppard on Cello, Anna Phoebe on violin (they both did a lot of the middle eastern textures) and finally we recorded a Kora player, this is an African harp which uses fishing line as strings. This is the instrument most people perceive as the guitar instrument in the score, it's not it's a harp!

MT: Was there anything different about scoring a Dutch film as opposed to English titles?

CH: Differences? Only the language difficulties, which were over come by the director and producers recording an english translation for me.... very funny! Oh and of-course Dutch film makers seem to be a lot more laid back than English ones so the experience was stress free.... a first for me.

MT:Your Brother Joe is credited for additional music on the film. I know you two have being involved in the same projects a lot. What was his part on Zomerhitte?

CH: Joe did all the "trendy music" or rather "source music" all the club, disco and party tracks, radio tracks and any TV source.

MT: What do you think of the result?

CH: I am very happy with the result, this was an experimental effort for me in the sense I restricted the track count. This reduction of resources made me more resourceful which is what I had hoped. Of-course we would all like more time and there's always bits I am sensitive about but in general I am happy with the results.

A question for orchestrator Ben Foskett

MT: I was wondering if you could tell me something about your work as an orchestrator on this specific score? 

My work on this score involves realising the live sounds and adhering to Christian's intentions as best as possible. He will give me a computer demo of the score and I will orchestrate trying to create the best sound for what he has written. In this case we were working with a string orchestra so I would take his demo and score the strings in such a way as to give the write colour and depth to the sound. In this particular film we were going for a very calm clean sound so a lot of the strings were played with very little vibrato and quite sul tasto (over the finger board), and muted quite often. This gave a strong colour to the playing. Then I would decide how to space the chords with the instruments available and colour the melodic lines by dividing up the orchestra in to multiple parts. I would also add textural devises such as bow and finger tremolos to add a shimmer to the sound.

Score credits

Christian Henson - composer
Nicholas Cervano – scoring engineer
Paul Englishby – conductor
Joe Henson – composer additional music
Robert Houston – assistant scoring engineer
Alison Wright – music supervisor

Recorded and mixed at Air Studios


Joep de Bruijn - 18/05/2008