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April 9, 2007

Filed under: music»recording»production

We Have a Theme Song

I love theme songs. If the Bank promised me I could write one a week, I'd never leave. I'd also never have time to write here, as you can tell.

Gender Statistics Theme

I like this one. It's for a narrated slideshow on gender statistics, aimed at policymakers. I spent an hour or two writing it, and although I really wanted formless female vocals to fill it out, there aren't a lot of singers in my department, and I think the Cello in Sampletank is lovely.

So I call the task manager in to listen, being very proud of myself. He gets through ten seconds, and then says: "No, no, no. This sounds like a theme for gender statistics. I don't want that."

You didn't?

"No. Gender statistics is exciting! I wanted something with a beat!" You didn't say that. I can only write for what I'm told. "What did we use for those instructional videos?" So I play him the crappy stock music, and "Perfect. That's what we'll use."

Anyone want a cello theme? Slightly used? But seriously, I'm thinking about fleshing it out a bit this weekend, and it could be a great backing track. Not a total loss.

Slum Upgrading Theme

This snippet is for a self-running slideshow on urban slum upgrading. In the next thirty years, urban areas will grow tremendously in the developing world, and most of them will be slums unless we do something about it. The slideshow is meant to give people a few options, and keep them from losing the political will to take action, because the solutions aren't honestly that difficult.

It's also being presented in Nairobi in a week or two, and the task manager wanted drums. I hate drums as a shorthand for Africa, and I always feel hypocritical doing it. So I worked with one of the team leaders from the project, and proposed doing something more like this instead. It uses a rhythmic synth drone to give the piece movement and an urban feel, a little West African-wannabe guitar, and kalimba to provide the "tick-tock" sounds. There's African instrumentation, in other words, but it doesn't scream "Tarzan." It also doesn't sound too depressed, too excited, or too martial, all of which would be inappropriate for slums.

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