On 8 April, Perseverance Records will release a limited edition 2-disc set of Nick Glennie-Smith's music from the 2000 steampunk television show The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne. www.hans-zimmer.com is proud to present a first listen feature of the set by showing extended examples of the score's highlights in addition to an interview with Gergely Hubai, who edited the album and wrote the liner notes for it.
I teach film music history and theory in Budapest, Hungary, but I've always wanted to do more than just to wait around and see CDs released. My big dream was to write liner notes for CDs and I've been lucky enough to get this chance last year. Since then, I worked on a couple of CDs for Perseverance Records, doing liner notes for titles such as Red Sonja, Jason and the Argonauts or Death Warrant, but I've also worked with other labels, such as Kritzerland's release of Casino Royale.
So how did you get involved in the project?
I first got to hear about The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne in early January when another project came to a temporary dead end. This score was actually developed concurrently with the recent release of Gary Chang's Death Warrant that came out at the beginning of March. It's interesting to note how that CD came out about a month earlier then this - but of course we had a lot more work to bring Secret Adventures into releasable form.
What kind of work do you mean?
The CD is based on Nick Glennie-Smith's own tapes and after these were digitalized, Robin went through the entire collection to find and select the best cues for inclusion. Thankfully we could afford two CDs, because it would have been really hard to edit down all this great music into 70-80 minutes in length.
For those who don't know about the show, what is The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne about?
Secret Adventures was a steampunk show created by Gavin Scott, who wrote episodes of The Young Indiana Jones plus movies like The Borrowers and Small Soldiers. It centers on the adventures of a young Jules Verne, whose vivid imagination grabs the attention of a mysterious organization named the League of Darkness. Verne teams up with British agents Phileas and Rebecca Fogg to stop the League's machinations, but they also have some other interesting adventures.
What is the music like?
The music is pretty big for a decade-old television show and has that old school Media Ventures sound that you really don't hear anymore today. The first three episodes were recorded at the RCA studios in Montréal and feature a larger orchestra. The remaining episodes have a more modest ensemble, usually seven strings and a couple of solo instruments, different ones for different episodes. That's the closest I can come to describing the music with words.
How were the cues selected?
I didn't participate in the selection of the cues that was all done by Robin. However, based on the notes I got, it seemed that he was looking for the most musically interesting cues and also made sure to include cues that contained recurring thematic elements. This way there's more cohesion to the album and overall it becomes a better listening experience.
How many cues are on the album?
By my count, the two CDs offer about a hundred cues altogether. Basically I took all of Robin's selections and edited them into suites in order to make it a better album. The only cue I omitted was a short, 20 second cue that was selected from the pilot. It was a very low-key electronic piece that amounted to nothing and put the album in a standing halt too early - plus it was barely audible. Apart from this, everything that was originally selected became integrated into the album program.
Was Nick Glennie-Smith involved in the release?
Of course, as I mentioned we used his tapes for the CD. Since Nick is still a very active composer and conductor, we had to work a lot on our own, but we checked every detail with him when he had the time. I must also mention the help of Gavin Scott, who was the creator of the show and encouraged this release from the get-go. He thought the music was a very important part of the show and was very happy to see it released.
Why did you decide by the suite format?
Television scores usually feature very short cues and when I first got to listen to the music, it was okay, but nothing spectacular. Robin was about to get started on naming the cues when I suggested to put the episodes into suites. The first one I did was "The Ballad of Steely Joe" and even I was surprised how much I liked the music in this format as opposed to the individual cues. I sent this example to Robin and Nick who gave me the green light to edit together the other episodes as well - unfortunately they were not always as easy as "Steely Joe", which took me about half an hour to do...
So do you believe this new format improves the music?
Oh, absolutely. I know this is a touchy subject for collectors and I usually prefer to avoid editing together cues unless really necessary, but this album fell into the 10% where I think this works to the score's advantage. Each suite becomes a representation of the episodes' strengths, emphasizing their strong points. But hey, if you don't like it, you can blame me!
Do the suites contain the cues in chronological order?
Most of the suites ARE presented in chronological order as I wanted to retain the narrative structure of each episode's score. Of course I was ready to switch around a couple of cues when I though it would make for a more fluid listening experience - after all, this is why we decided by the suite format to begin with. One example where I think this works quite well is "The Cardinal's Design". Although there are only two cues in this track, I wanted to begin with the second cue since it was a more characteristic piece with a slight Baroque flavor.
Which is your favorite episode score?
As I mentioned, the first suite I edited together was from the Western-themed episode "The Ballad of Steely Joe" and that's the one I heard the most times. I think the suite became quite brisk and is a good introduction to the entire album. It has a particularly powerful finale (a gang of robbers faces off against a robot cowboy) and all the music for this part is just glorious. In fact, the entire 4-episode arc taking place in the US has some of the best music, that's why the entire second half of Disc 1 focuses on that storyline. Some of my other favorites include the first cue from the pilot, the underground action material from the "Giant mole" episode, the romantic cues of "The Inquisitor" and... Well, it's just really hard to narrow it down.
Let's talk about the bumpers. What are these exactly?
Bumpers are short cues that are used to divide up the show when the commercials come. Nick's tapes actually contained 32(!) bumpers, but they were all essentially variations on the same 10 compositions. Each of the five main bumpers existed in two variations: a 3,5 and a 7 second long version. We feature all five bumpers on the CD in the longer takes - these are musically more interesting and help to divide up the album programs as well.
Why did you spread them out on the two discs?
Yeah, this was my idea as well, so send me the hate mail. Actually I really dislike when a television score has a bonus section of bumpers because who will wait until the end to listen to 10 or 12 5-second long pieces? Since the show had different story arcs, I thought it would be best to combine these two features and place the bumpers between the various story arcs. It was also a great way to open and close the two discs.
What about the main and end title?
There was only one recording of the "Main Titles" and we naturally went with that. However, there were three different takes of the "Closing Titles" - these were 40, 45 and 50 seconds long. We decided to use the shortest of these because the other two were very similar to "Main Titles". The shortest one was a bit more concise (it leaves out a bridge), so this one was selected to close the entire program.
Why is the last episode not featured on the collection?
We utilized Nick's tapes for the CD and he didn't have a surviving copy of the last episode either. We even tried to contact the Canadian studio where the scores were recorded, but even they couldn't locate any tapes either. I think this is a result of the way the show was produced: each week the composer sent his tapes to Canada for the recording and received back a new batch with the orchestral recordings. I guess when the show wrapped after the last episode, nobody bothered to take care of the tape and it got lost in the shuffle.
Will you release more scores from Nick or other Media Ventures composers?
Perseverance Records always has several interesting titles in the pipeline, but I can't talk about them at this stage. Extended audio examples of the score's highlights :
#103 (Underground action music for an episode involving a giant mechanic mole attacking Queen Victoria.)
#106 (A time travel adventure that takes Verne to the age of the musketeers deserves a slight Baroque flavor.)
#113 (The harmonica is a dominant instrument during the telling of Speedy Joe's legend.)
#206 (Not even this tragic music can stop the League of Darkness from summoning the deceased Professor Marechali!)
#210 (In addition to this lovely romantic cue, the suite from The Inquisitor also has gorgeous Japanese melodies.)
#211 (Where the hell is Montravia, the imaginary kingdom from Royalty? According to this cue, it's somewhere in tha Balkan...)
The secret adventures of Jules Verne - opening credits
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Actually, Guizmox, there's more than 50 min (and as far as I can remember, nothing repeated) of score in Max Q...
Max Q is one of my holy grails ;)
Just received the CD :D Dedicaced by NGS and Gavin Scott.
Just heard the first few minutes, very coherent suites and it sounds great. You'll hear the reversed "Iron Mask" theme, and a rejected and rearranged theme inspired by a demo from "The Rock". It misses some music, particulary the action theme from "Cardinal Revenge" which is very fun.
A few cues are taken from a MONO source... strange and a bit disappointing but all the others have a really good stereo.
You mean the release is missing that "Cardinal action theme" like in the first few minutes of that video:
I was looking forward for that piece of music :(
Yes, the most fun (best) track from "Cardinals Revenge" is missing...dont know why they left it out. Again a release which dissapoints at the end !
210 is a wonderful theme. Some episodes contains some nice variations (trumpets+snares instead of flute) I hope they will be in the CD :) As for Max-Q there are only few minutes of original music in the film (about 10 minutes)... So it probably won't have a release.
As a hugh and dedicated fan of the show..I wish to say Thank You for this..we have been waiting forever..I love Nick Glennie-Smiths music..and whenever I can get one of his cd's I do...and as a fan of the Secret Adventures of Jules Verne..we really would wish the company would release (Finally) the DVDS/Blue-Rays of the show..the themes, costmes , music, settings, ect..and especially the wonderful actors(that were perfect for the roles)..I have gone overseas to England many times to see Michael Praed(Phileas Fogg) perform...He is the nicest most gracious man to meet..also...But Still Thank You for this wonderful music...Cannot wait to get my CD's..I ordered tonight as soon as I saw the email sent to us fans about it...Sincerly a hugh fan of it all..Geraline K. James
"Quite a good time to be an MV/RC fan. ^_^ " : indeed! and Lalaland will release a mysterious 2 CD set title for march 15 : after Broken Arrow and Money Train , pehraps another RC surprise? As we say in France : "Jamais deux sans trois!" - Fingers crosses!