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Cribs: Patrick Doyle

Having worked with Patrick on the first Bridget Jones’ Diary back in 2001 it’s a real honour to have sat down with him to see how his workflow has evolved since then.

Patrick has been commissioned to score over 50 international feature films, including Cinderella, Brave, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Gosford Park, Sense and Sensibility, Indochine, Carlito’s Way and A Little Princess. His work has led to collaborations with some of the most acclaimed directors in the world, such as Regis Wargnier, Brian De Palma, Alfonso Cuaròn, Ang Lee, Chen Kaige, Mike Newell and Robert Altman.

Having been one of the last composers of the pencil and paper hegemony, Patrick has developed a new system with his team that embraces his fluid musicality and creative verve alongside the use of sample libraries. He is testament to composers not needing acres of outboard and ‘toys’, with a simple set up that starts with an upright piano and two linked workstations, some ten feet apart, where he and his assistant work live in real time via a pair of AKG 414 microphones. Patrick sculpts each line of music himself with his assistant managing the programming tasks, pulling up instruments and then getting the cue in order in preparation for live sessions. His studio, a ‘glorified garage’ on the Shepperton Studios lot just west of London has played host to Patrick’s work since 1989 with a strict 8.30 – 7.00 working day (including a few micro naps).

It was fascinating to hear how Patrick dealt with the pressures of working on huge blockbuster films. How that in his lengthy career, working with some of the true greats, he has learned not to be sucked into the pathology of the less experienced and less well behaved directors we sometimes face. How that keeping in a reality that is real is the best way to remain sane and well. As one of 13 children growing up in Uddingston Lanarkshire is a proud Scottish patriot who believes his role in life is part of the continuum from a rich ancestral heritage and musical DNA that has survived centuries of famine and pestilence. It was great to get his angle on channeling this heritage into his work and using his experience and pride, to get the best out of contributors to his scores; namely ‘traditional’ or ‘specialist’ musicians.

We thank Patrick and his team for giving us so much of their valuable time, and sharing his thoughts for the benefit of future generations of music makers.

– Christian Henson