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Author Topic: A Closer Look at the Watership Down TV Soundtrack (2000)  (Read 2249 times)

Offline Hawkbit

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A Closer Look at the Watership Down TV Soundtrack (2000)
« on: August 20, 2011, 01:32:12 PM »


Watership Down TV Series Soundtrack (2000, Polydor Ltd.)
Performers: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Art Garfunkel, Stephen Gately, Cerys Matthews, Mike Batt
Composer: Mike Batt

Watership Down CD Review, (c) 2008, Adam R.

The music used for the Watership Down television series was composed by Mike Batt, the one who wrote the famous Bright Eyes song.  The vocal tracks were performed by artists of the time including Stephen Gately, Cerys Matthews, Paul Carrack, and Art Garfunkel.  Of the vocal cues on the CD, two of them are actually used during the series, while the others’ themes are present in the series, but the actual vocal performance is absent.

 
Now let’s look at the individual tracks.


1 – Watership Down - The Beginning (Overture) : Pieces of this score are used throughout all three seasons of the series.  There are heavy influences of brass in this piece, and there are subtle hints of the Bright Eyes song embedded near the middle and end of the track.  It’s a very loud and powerful piece.


2 – Bright Eyes (Vocal - Stephen Gately) : Gately’s version of Bright Eyes is refreshing when you consider it’s a pop version of the song in line with Garfunkel’s earlier take on the same song.  This version uses a more upbeat tempo and it lacks the sadness of the version found on the original soundtrack CD.  An edited version of this song played over the credits of season one episodes.


3 – Thank You, Stars (Vocal - Cerys Matthews) : While Bright Eyes was the song and theme of the original film, Thank You, Stars is the theme of the television series, and its melody can be heard throughout the first and second seasons.  Matthews version of the song is somewhat raspy, especially when you compare it to the version performed by Katie Melua on her own albums.  The lyrics though are nice and romantic, reminiscent of a peaceful starry night when you tell someone how much they mean to you.


4 – On Watership Down (Folk Theme) : I’ve seen all of the seasons of the show, and yet have heard this amazing piece only once—in the last episode of season three when all the rabbits decide to stay and save Watership Down from the advancing Woundwort.  Granted there are snippets of the opening part with the oboe placed throughout the series, but the meat of this piece is the huge symphonic crescendo in the middle which gives the impression of accomplishing something great.  What a shame to use that powerful music only once.


5 – (When You’re) Losing Your Way in the Rain (Vocal - Art Garfunkel) : This was one of the three songs originally written by Mike Batt for the original film.  It was never used in the film or the television series.  There is a scene in the film before the rabbits see Cowslip’s warren where this song would fit nicely.


6 – Military Theme and Development : As you can expect, this piece was often used during times in the series when the rabbits had to catch or run from Woundwort and the Efrafan patrols.  The instrumentation is similar to the Chase Adventure track, full of horns and strings, and is quite loud.

 
7 – The View From a Hill (Vocal - Mike Batt) : This song is not used in the series.  Batt sings of looking out over the horizon and looking at what they have.  The blend of piano and strings works well.

8 – Fantasia on a Flying Theme : This is a soft piece played by flutes, clarinets, and strings, and is used many times over in the entire series.  Thank You, Stars as an instrumental reprise makes up a bulk of this song’s playtime.  A short rendition of this piece was used over the third season’s credits.


9 – Chase Adventure from Watership Down : There is much chasing on the downs as this piece is used the most often in the series when compared to the others.  A fast tempo, layers of horns and brass instruments and percussion make this a very energetic piece.  The downside is that it repeats itself twice during the playtime so you actually hear the exact same thing for upwards of six minutes.


10 – Baroque Tune : This short thirty-seconds of string instruments is very catchy.  It’s one of my favorite cues on the entire CD.  The only time this is heard is during the Winter on Watership Down episodes in the middle of season two.


11 – Frith’s Blessing (Narrator - Gary Martin) : I’ll come out and say I’m not fond of this version of the Elahrairah tale.  The tale itself has been shortened and streamlined, though visually on screen, it’s pretty decent and in the style of the original film.  What makes this version less appealing is the background music.  Gone is the atmosphere of danger and spontaneity, and without it, the tale is nothing more than a bedtime story.


12 – Winter on Watership Down : As evidenced by the title, this piece was meant for one part of the series only, and that is the winter episodes in season two.  Sleigh bells in the early portion of the track along with strings and trumpet give the feel of a snowy environment.  The piece slows down into another theme played by brass instruments.  It’s an instrumental take of Winter Song which was not used vocally in the series.


13 – Winter Song (Vocal - Paul Carrack) : This is another of the highlights of the album, despite the song not being utilized in the series.  The lyrics are soothing and speak of sticking together through storms and snow and how spring always comes again after winter.  Carrack plays it conservatively and keeps the song at a nice, even pace and pitch.  I’ve found this to be a nice, warming song during cooler months where I live.

 
14 – A Kind of Dream (Choral Fantasy) : Another song not used in the series, this is a choral rendition of Bright Eyes.  Despite impressive vocal ability and range by all the men and women of the choir, this is not one of my favorite tracks.  If this is supposed to represent a heavenly choir, then the impression is good since Bright Eyes is a song of death.  However, I do not find myself listening to this performance of the song for some reason.  The original soundtrack CD rendition by Garfunkel is the best rendition of sadness and lost hope, in my opinion.

 
15 – Bright Eyes (Steve Mac version) : This version of Bright Eyes was not used in the series.  Similar to Gately’s version, its upbeat and pop in nature, lacking the qualities of the original film.  I usually pass over this version as well.

 
This television series soundtrack would be better if more of it was actually used in the series.  Most of the vocal performances are not used, and much of the score is underrepresented while certain pieces get played over and over again.  The CD is exceedingly rare and hard to find.  I had to get my copy from Germany.  Realistically, it’s hit or miss whether it is worth the trouble of seeking out.  Try and watch some of the series episodes first (as of this writing, they’re all on youtube) and hear some of the background music before going on a quest to track down the CD.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2011, 04:47:03 PM by Hawkbit »

Offline Speedwell

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A Closer Look at the Watership Down TV Soundtrack (2000)
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2011, 05:50:26 PM »
Quote from: Hawkbit on Aug 20 2011, 09:32:12 AM
Most of the vocal performances are not used, and much of the score is underrepresented while certain pieces get played over and over again.  
Like the first instrumental few lines to "Thank You Stars" that we hear endlessly?  :frustrated  Yeah, I noticed that. It's probably one of the most annoying things about the series: taking a song that has nothing to do with the story, shaping it around a romance that is referenced maybe twice, directly after which, the two characters almost never speak with each other again. :/ However, I've heard alot of the soundtrack, and it seems to embody the spirit of Watership Down more than the actual series does.
(Not hating, of course. Still love the series to bits.)

Offline Owsla-rah

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A Closer Look at the Watership Down TV Soundtrack (2000)
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2011, 12:05:22 AM »
I personaly like 1, 4, 6 and 9. By the way, have anyone here ever found the music that was generally used for for Efrafa. I been tying to find it all over the internet, but i haven't found any thing about it. Heres a link to one of the episode:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKWnUTYEOUw&feature=channel_video_title  The music is used though most of the episoade. Their is also few other ones that is used the series that was not on the soundtrack that I could not find.
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Offline Hawkbit

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A Closer Look at the Watership Down TV Soundtrack (2000)
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2011, 01:21:20 PM »
^ I took a listen to the episode, and I think you're referring to the brass "dum dum dum" that repeats quite a few times to kind of the get the feel of danger.  My suspicion is that it would make for a clumsy track of music because the "Efrafa music" as you put it, lacks a consistent flow and is reused time and time again.  You probably couldn't make a very coherent track out of only that type of music, hence it wasn't included.

That would be my guess just listening to a lot of soundtrack music.

Offline Darkling Nocturnal

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A Closer Look at the Watership Down TV Soundtrack (2000)
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2013, 05:52:19 AM »
I like the soundtrack very much (except for Frith' Blessing).

What I want to observe:

The melody of Winter Song could be heard serveral times in the series.

A Kind of Dream (Choral Fantasy) can be heard in the finale (during the appearance of the Black Rabbit of Inlé)


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Offline Hawkbit

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A Closer Look at the Watership Down TV Soundtrack (2000)
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2013, 10:49:12 AM »
Quote from: Quote:on 
The melody of Winter Song could be heard serveral times in the series.

Indeed, however "Winter on Watership Down" references the song too, and that's what you ultimately hear, not the song.

Quote from: Quote:on 
A Kind of Dream (Choral Fantasy) can be heard in the finale (during the appearance of the Black Rabbit of Inlé)

Didn't notice that....going to have to relisten and amend that if its true.  If its only used during that scene, that's what three minutes out of three seasons?  Still not referenced much, and should have been used more.

Offline Keeralie Starflight

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A Closer Look at the Watership Down TV Soundtrack (2000)
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2013, 03:06:16 PM »
My favorite...hmm... I really like "Winter Song", and I like both versions of "Bright Eyes".

I just wanted to say one thing, they did actually use "The View From a Hill" at the beginning of the episode Tale of a Mouse.
"What would you give to save your friends? To save Watership Down?"

Offline Hawkbit

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A Closer Look at the Watership Down TV Soundtrack (2000)
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2013, 06:18:12 PM »
I'll look into that one too.

Offline Darkling Nocturnal

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A Closer Look at the Watership Down TV Soundtrack (2000)
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2013, 10:29:14 AM »
Quote from: Keeralie Starflight on Aug 22 2013, 11:06:16 AM
I just wanted to say one thing, they did actually use "The View From a Hill" at the beginning of the episode Tale of a Mouse.
Really  :blink

I thought, this song was written for the movie but never used and then was firstly released on the tv series soundtrack. Or maybe I'm mistaken it with "(When You're) Losing Your Way In The Rain"  :unsure


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Offline Hawkbit

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A Closer Look at the Watership Down TV Soundtrack (2000)
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2013, 08:54:49 PM »
"When You're Losing Your Way in the Rain" was supposed to be in the movie, right before they find Cowslip's warren.  Why it was released on the tv series soundtrack is beyond me.