Carl Davis: Cranford Theme

Context

Carl Davis CBE (1936-) is an American-born conductor and composer. He has lived in the UK since the early 1960s. Perhaps best-known for his silent movie music, Davis is also celebrated for his television and film music. Notable television series that Davis worked on include The Kiss of Death (1977), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1982) and Pride and Prejudice (1995). He composed the music for Cranford in 2007.

Cranford is a popular British television series that is based on three novellas by Elizabeth Gaskell which were published between 1849-1858. The series was split into five one hour episodes between November-December 2007. The show is set in the early 1840s in the fictional village of Cranford in the county of Cheshire. Described as “focusing on the town’s single and widowed middle class female inhabitants” Cranford explores themes of traditional female roles and how they are perceived by others.

 

The Music

The theme music to Cranford was composed by Davis between 2006-07 to accompany the series. He also composed the music for each episode. The theme music starts with a lilting quaver motif from the lower strings to pave the way for the light melodic sequence to sing out on top. Davis uses a chamber orchestra for the theme with the strings taking the lead. 

The simplicity of the music resonates with the ideals of the programme making it a traditional and classic opening for a period drama. The constantly flowing melody is passed around the ensemble and emphasised and developed by small changes seen in harmonic movement and rhythmic changes. 

The music is somewhat nostalgic which gives it that timeless atmosphere. Davis’ keen eye for orchestration shines out in this theme as the melody flies around different instruments creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere before the start of the programme. 

 

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