Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hinnigan's Magic

Tony Hinnigan (standing) in the studio with James Horner working on the score for Cristiada. Pic Sylvia Wells
Definitely one man who can do no wrong in my eyes when it comes to music is the multi-talented Tony Hinnigan. If you've heard, and loved, the music soundtracks from such films as Titanic, Avatar, The Mission, Braveheart, Troy and many more besides, then you've already encountered the talents of Tony Hinnigan. He's had prominent roles in the music for scores of Hollywood films from a host of heavyweight film composers such as James Horner, Michael Nyman, John Williams and Ennio Morricone, who value his versatility in style and expertise. It was his penny whistle that accompanied Celine Dion on her massive hit single, My Heart Will Go On, from the blockbuster film, Titanic. His panpipes were the backbone of the haunting and evocative sound from The Mission and his soulful flute and whistle melodies stirred the senses in the action-packed Braveheart. In recent times he's added Apocalypto and Cristiada (aka For Greater Glory) to his cv.

Hinnigan and James Horner teamed up again a couple of days ago at the Royal Albert Hall where Horner delivered a 20-minute overview of the film's score with Hinnigan and the London Symphony Orchestra before the world premiere showing of the newly-released Titanic in 3D, the film originally being released in 1997. Hinnigan has a great sense of humour that shines through when he discusses some of the music soundtracks that he's worked on. Take his involvement with Horner for the Titanic score. "Sometimes I have a "gimmick" to see me through a project (not shaving on "Braveheart", wearing shades 24/7 on "Troy" etc.) - it's stupid superstition. Anyway, for the Titanic I decided I was going to dress smartly and so duly turned up on the first morning in a jacket and tie, much to the amusement of my colleagues. "What, exactly, have you come as?" was James Horner's greeting. After much head-scratching about what key it was going to be in, the first piece of business turned out to be the ubiquitous "My heart will go on." I didn't know it was a song or who would be singing it or anything, save that I had to play it on a B whistle which (thanks to the expertise of Phil Hardy at I had! More about whistles later. I must just name-check Sissel who is one of the most gifted singers I have ever met and an absolute joy to work with, and Eric Rigler, who has taken the playing of bagpipes into a whole new dimension."

This is what he had to say about his work with Ennio Morricone for The Mission in 1985. "The whole thing started with a phone call "out of the blue" followed by our "audition". We were summoned to the headquarters of Goldcrest Films in London and shown to an upstairs office where Sr. Morricone pounded a ricketty, out-of-tune, upright piano and sang tune after tune at the top of his voice. "Can you play this?" enquired his son. few days later we were sitting in CTS studios recording the opening sequence of the film, where Sr. Morricone, seated on a high stool, produced a small plastic recorder from his top pocket and alternately improvised musical phrases on it and pointed it at each of us to do the same on a variety of drums, panpipes, etc. It went down in one take. After three days of somewhat intense recording there was blood on the studio floor - hands from drum walloping and lips from panpipe riffing. Ah, the things we do for art."

And for Mel Gibson's 1995 epic Braveheart. "This was done in Abbey Road, London with the LSO and is the first time I used throat vibrato on a film score. Up till then I'd always played straight but before we started I was practising on my own in the studio when James Horner came rushing in. The conversation went something like this:- JH "What's that?" Me "Erm, it's a quena James." JH "Yes but that sound. How do you get that sound?" Me "Erm, throat vibrato. It's how you're supposed to play 'em." JH "I've been looking for that sound for years and didn't know what it was. I thought it was a different instrument. Keep it in!" Being afflicted with terminal Scottishness, I came over all misty-eyed at the Battle of Bannockburn."

Teaming up with James Horner again for Troy in 2004. "Eric Rigler and I were asked by James Horner to play on "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius" - a nice movie about legendary golfer Bobby Jones. Two days before I was due to leave for LA, I got a call from music editor Jim Henrikson asking if I could stay on to do another gig. Gabriel Yared's score had been binned (these things happen) and James had 5 minutes to write a new one. Once the golf movie was in the can Eric and I went up to San Francisco to get "anything that sounds weird". This turned out to be Rag Dungs, Shofars, Sipsis, Conch Shells, Fish Trumpets (!) etc, etc. Nothing like a good old film company panic to broaden ones musical horizons." Find out more about the man himself here.
Tony Hinnigan working in his own studio - a vastly talented multi-instrumentalist

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older