Summer Solstice (Northern SOULstice)

Hello! It’s been a very long time since I’ve written a songwriting blog, but I’ve given my website a bit of TLC and thought this would be a good time to write some more!

Since my last post about the themes and writing process for ‘Club Bazaar’, I’ve bought some new toys and I’m very happy with them. INTRODUCING *drum roll please* MY NOVATION LAUNCHPAD *the crowd goes wild!* MY NOVATION LAUNCH CONTROL XL *the crowd can’t contain themselves!!* AND MY LITTLE BROTHER’S GO PRO HE DOESN’T KNOW I STILL HAVE *the crowd erupt in rapturous applause!!!*

I made the video at the top to show you how I triggered the samples and music (that I made!) live for the show, and I also did it in one take (haha how did you guess?! Sorry mum for swearing).

‘Summer Solstice’ was written by Nadia Emam in collaboration with SPT. One of the most beautiful things about working with SPT is how the intergenerational group work together. Ages ranged from 13-83, and everyone was incredibly supportive of everyone else.

The brief for this underscore was ‘Northern Soul, where different tribes show their individuality as well as a sense of togetherness. They start the show as separate entities and end it by dancing together as one big tribe.’

So I did what anyone would do, and start at the very END. I thought about the different components that could make up a Northern Soul like song, and came up with this:

The Ancients – slow, mysterious trumpet chords, as they have been transported from another time and are magical

The Officials – a group of Sheffield City Council workers who try to stop everyone gathering in Tudor Square for the Summer Solstice. Their theme is minor and jarring to start, conflicting with the other melodies, then it magically becomes major when they reveal they are the Gods of Soul! (spoiler!!)

The Mystics – upbeat piano to show their bizarre personalities

The Northern Soul Wanderers – Northern Soul inspired rhythm section, heavy bass

So let’s get started!

The Ancients

The show starts with the Ancients’ theme, which is layers of trumpet notes creating chords recorded by moi. I then played a live trumpet part over the top to give it a bit of zing. I am the Goddess of Sun after all, and boy did I rock my yellow sun dress.

The Officials

The Officials enter and interrupt the Ancient’s sun dance to me (their holy Goddess). Their theme is jarring and minor against the Ancient’s theme, but when they reveal themselves to in fact be the Gods of Soul themselves, their baseline becomes major and the whole song comes together.

The Mystics

The Mystics wear bright clothes and fancy head dresses, and are very eccentric. Their theme is a piano riff, which plays against the Official’s theme as they enter. (The Ancient’s theme stops because they have put on their invisibility cloaks and have seemed to have disappeared!)

The Northern Stars

The Northern Stars arrive as I have accidentally summoned them to Tudor Square for the Solstice, NOT SOULstice! They connect their phone to the speakers and everything gets taken up a notch.

End dance

The Officials reveal themselves to be the Gods of Soul, and their jarring minor motif becomes major and a hot percussion section enters. All of the other themes blend together to create this final song, as all of the different groups dance together!

That’s it!! I had a great time writing the music for this show and I hope you liked reading about the little themes I wrote for each group that came together to make the final Northern Soul inspired dance number.

I’d love to know your thoughts and feelings, so please get in touch!

“Emily is a brilliant collaborator and composer, instinctive and responsive to the making process. Great to have in a tight corner, Emily worked quickly and fulfilled a very specific brief with humour, imagination and no small degree of skill” -Anthony Lau, Director

SUMMER SOLSTICE (NORTHERN SOULSTICE) was a Sheffield People’s Theatre Production

Writer – Nadia Emam in collaboration with SPT

Composer/Sound Designer – Emily Compton (me, obviously!)

Director – Anthony Lau

Movement Director – Lucy Haighton

Assistant Director – Olivia Rembges

Set Designer/Costume – Sarah Lewis-Cole 

Learning Projects Producer – Pippa Atkinson

Learning & Participation Manager – Emily Hutchinson

Published by emilycomptonmusic

Emily is a freelance composer and trumpeter currently based in London. If you'd like to collaborate, please get in touch!

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