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Tony Banks reading music?
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Author:  babylon5 [ Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:24 am ]
Post subject:  Tony Banks reading music?

During my many years of Genesis fandom, I have seen some very contradictory statements about whether Tony Banks reads music, how well he reads music, whether he ever writes out his compositions in musical notation, and so on.

Does anyone have any definite knowledge on this? Or even better, a specific citation in one of the many books or interviews with Tony?

Author:  moderoy [ Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tony Banks reading music?

I know Phil stated in one interview that nobody in Genesis reads music except for Tony. So I don't think Tony would write out his compositions in musical notation (at least with Genesis) because it wouldn't help anyone. I seem to remember Tony saying in another interview from long ago that he does read/write music but is not a particularly strong note reader, in the sense that classical musicians must be. However, working with professional orchestras on classical pieces, I think he absolutely must write everything down in musical notation. I don't thinking he's humming this stuff to the conductor, telling him how it goes (like Lennon and McCartney with George Martin!)

Author:  Tulyar [ Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tony Banks reading music?

Did Tony do the Orchestral arrangements on Seven? I don't have the album, but maybe someone who has can look at the sleeve notes.
It's one thing to be able to read and play (and even write) the dots and squiggles, but to be able to write a full orchestral score is quite something else. I would be surprised to hear that Tony could to that... but then again, Tony often surprises me! :)

Author:  babylon5 [ Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tony Banks reading music?

No, he had Simon Hale orchestrate it. But he was involved in the process.

In the Seven liner notes he explains that when he wrote The Wicked Lady soundtrack, he composed on piano and then had an orchestrator translate the music to orchestra. This time, he wanted to have significant control over the actual orchestration:

Tony Banks wrote:
This time I wanted to make sure that the pieces ended up being a true representation of what I had originally written, even though I knew I was going to need the help of an orchestrator. I therefore recorded fairly detailed demos of the pieces, which I then gave to Simon Hale, the orchestrator of this suite, with the brief to make the music intelligible to orchestral players. The idea was to keep faithfully to the structure, and not to change any melodies, chords or other elements, but to have some freedom with instrumentation, and the use of additional arrangement ideas, to make the result convincing. There were obviously some ideas that worked better than others and it was not until we were actually recording with the orchestra that this became apparent.

:offtopic: Is the word "brief" in this sense common in Britain? Or is it quaint or upper-class there? To my American ears it sounds like something from the 19th century, like "gaol", which can get you a goal....

Anyway, the full liner notes are reproduced here. I just noticed an interesting phrase:

Tony Banks wrote:
Simon added the semi-quaver violas accompanying the middle part [of "Earthlight"], which looked very doubtful on paper, but which in the end sound very effective and natural.

If Tony found the viola parts "doubtful on paper" but then good when he heard them, that does seem to prove he can read music!

Author:  Tulyar [ Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tony Banks reading music?

Thanks for that b5 - it clarifies the situation. Tony can read and write music - he was able to read the viola parts, but would have struggled to write on paper all the different orchestral parts for all the different instruments, so Simon Hale did that part. I think that's a fair summary! :D

As for "brief" - yes I would say it is reasonably common to use it in that way in Britain. Although, having said that, I'm struggling to find the specific definition either online or in a proper dictionary (a book :o :wink: )!
In the context used by Tony here it means a simple instruction, I suppose. But (looking at a dictionary) I don't know whether that comes from the definition in law, about 'a barrister having a summary of the facts'... or the definition about 'a letter of instruction from the Pope'!

...or maybe even the 'underwear' definition :lol:

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