The Good Book

Client: Slung Low/Leed’s People’s Theatre

Directed by Brett Chapman

Written by James Phillips

from Slung Low‘s site:

In a future Leeds, society is divided between loyalists of the powerful Queen Bear and radical followers of Galahad. Avalon is a young woman desperate not to take sides, but as civil war begins she must undertake a dangerous mission to rescue a precious relic from destruction.

SOUNDTRACK ALBUM now on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, etc

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Guardian

Beneath it all, Heather Fenoughty’s score and Matt Angove’s sound design generate a constant rumble of unease.

Catherine Love – 30 Apr, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Younger Theatre

Heather Fenoughty’s score is a wonderfully stylish feature of this film adding a theatrical but also other-worldly element of tension.

Mirren Wilson – 30 Apr, 2020

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Stage

Brett Chapman’s direction and Heather Fenoughty’s music combine to evoke an oppressive and intimate atmosphere…

Fergus Morgan – 30 Apr, 2020

The first time I read the script, I knew the final scene would need something special. As is always the case with James’ work, he left a lovely, decent chunk of glorious dialogue-free high drama in the final moments of this story.

The final scene needed music with an ancient resonance, something familiar but not cliche. Also, the decision was essential for the themes of the rest of the film: getting this final piece right meant I could retrofit the score leading up to those final scenes with both a theme and a motif that would coalesce into that final moment. The entire score would continuously, subtly, encourage the character to her final truth and action.

After some digging, I settled on adapting Hildegard von Bingen’s ’Spiritus Sanctus Vivificans’. In english, the title translates as ‘Holy Spirit gives life’ – it has obvious religious overtones (Hildegard was a nun), which felt right for the film’s themes around fundamentalism. However, the lyrics themselves have a really personal, almost mystical, sense of spirituality.

Psalm antiphon for the Holy Spirit (D 157r, R 466va) by Hildegard of Bingen

Spiritus sanctus vivificans
vita movens omnia,
et radix est in omni creatura
ac omnia de inmunditia abluit,
tergens crimina ac ungit vulnera,
et sic est fulgens ac laudabilis vita,
suscitans et resuscitans
omnia.

The Holy Spirit: living and life-giving,
the life that’s all things moving,
the root in all created being:
of filth and muck it washes all things clean—
out-scrubbing guilty staining, its balm our wounds constraining—
and so its life with praise is shining,
rousing and reviving
all.

Huge thanks to the International Society of Hildegard von Bingen for all the information about this piece and the intriguing woman herself.

The song was performed beautifully and recorded by Caroline Joy Clarke remotely, from her home studio.

I used the first few notes of Hildegard’s piece as a motif to subtly underline the significance of the mysterious book whenever mentioned, as if it was calling to her, willing her on to save it.

Eagle-eared listeners will notice a little discrepancy! In phrase 2, there’s an extra F in Caroline’s recording – this is typical of very old music in that a lot can be left to the performer’s artistic discretion in interpreting an old and ambiguous manuscript. I wrote the Love theme based on the score without the extra optional F, shown here as a grace note, prior to Caroline’s recording. I loved Caroline’s version when I first heard it, so it stayed.

In those final scenes we hear this full piece, edited and arranged to fit a more modern setting of synths, sweeping strings and solo violin.

After the film ends, and we move to the credits, I doubled, tripled and quadrupled Caroline’s vocals, transposing them so that she harmonises herself. Though it’s not in the script, I’m suggesting Avalon has shared the words of hope within the book to others, who have similarly passed it on, those extra voices now working in harmony to spread that same message.

Grab some popcorn and watch the film here