When the Birds Sang: Scoring the Story

26 May ’23

(Main image photo credit: Mark Savage)
Discover how composer Patrick Dineen wrote the fantastic score for When the Birds Sang.

When writing the music for When the Birds Sang, I began by watching the way birds (specifically corvids) move, not just in the air but also on the ground. When they fly, they swoop and soar, glide, hover and dive, it is wonderful to observe – they are supremely elegant and also unpredictable.   However, when on the ground they hop and jump and twitch and have a quirky sometimes eccentric feel to their movement.  Finally, when alone high up on a tree they can be perfectly still and watchful. I decided to use their movement as part of the musical score with melodies and motifs gliding in and out and rising up and falling down and then hopping along.

But of course, all this had to be seen through the eyes of Jay, and her imagination. So, this is where all the emotion comes into the music as we follow Jay and her feelings with her bird friend, from sadness to joy and laughter. I was aiming for the music to convey her imagination and her inner world and once there, the music can become an integral part of the storytelling, supporting both the choreographed movement and the dialogue and helping to tell us where we are.

So, some of the things you will hear are: – big orchestral string passages that represent wind and air and flying, a clarinet that represents ‘Bird’, xylophone that represents ‘Bird’ on the ground, a viola and piano that represent Jay’s inner feelings and long ambient chords for moments in the air and on a hilltop. Lastly you will hear and see how the music and the choreography work together in the dance sections and how the music is supporting the dialogue and actions of Bird and Jay at all times. So, a colourful and atmospheric and at times emotional musical score that always supports the story.

Patrick Dineen 

When the Birds Sang has been co-produced by leading children’s theatre companies Theatre Hullabaloo and Travelling Light Theatre Company. This breath-taking dance theatre show combines beautiful dance, epic music and captivating storytelling to celebrate the power of imagination. Find out more here.