The principle music for Tune for the Blood is composed and performed by acclaimed bassist Danny Thompson and West End veteran Neil McArthur.
In his 40-plus years as a professional musician, acoustic bass player
Danny Thompson has worked with the cream of the music industry, from Roy
Orbison and Rod Stewart to Richard Thompson and John Martyn. He was a founder member of the jazz folk fusion group Pentangle. In the 1987 he released his own critically acclaimed album Whatever, followed by Whatever Next and Elemental. He is regarded as an extraordinary bass player by musicians and fans alike, his
improvisatory style is utterly distinctive and 'Victoria', his beloved
bass, has accompanied him on dozens of albums including four solo
recordings. The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
McArthur has worked in theatre, TV, film and recording for 30 years. He
had an international hit with the musical "Five Guys Named Moe", has
worked extensively in the West End and around the country, and his work
at the National Theatre includes the music and arrangements for many
productions including "Oh! What A Lovely War", "A Streetcar Named
Desire" ( with Glenn Close ), "His Girl Friday", " Ma Rainey's Black
Bottom" etc. He has also worked with Yusuf Islam, Harry Nilsson, Ray
Davies and Lionel Bart. His other great passion is folk-blues guitar,
and he has made two albums with his band The Green House Band. Neil was a
member of Harvey And The Wallbangers in the 1980s, and also first met
Danny Thompson then when he promoted Danny's first concert with his band
Three other young bands also generously provided tracks for the Tune for the Blood. They drive the Young Farmer Club sequences. Please check out the following links to find out more about them.
Working with Danny and Neil
From the outset we thought Danny's double bass sound would work really well for the film. We sent Danny a rough cut with just a few notes about thoughts about the music - we didn't want to direct his response too much. We did know we wanted the music to be acoustic. Danny recruited Neil McArthur to collaborate with him. After about a month, we all got together in a studio in London where Danny and Neil played us a huge range of songs and music they had worked on. There was a lot of musci! We then talked about the music that we thought worked for the film and our desire for the music to echo various English music traditions associated with the rural, but to give it a modern take. We played back some of the key scenes with Danny and Neil improvising variations around the images.
A few weeks later we all met up again and Richard Urbanksi, the editor
(and also a sound recordist) did rough recordings of the themes and the
variations Danny and Neil had developed. It was a wonderful session. We
took those away and played with them against the picture until we had
the music and pictures working. Finally we all got together again in
October and did the final recording, coming away with much more music
than we needed, thanks to the generosity of Neil and Danny. It was a
privilege to have gone through this process with such consumate and
creative musicians who gave us so much of their time. We have some
truly beautiful recordings that are not in the film, but they are in my
music library - and I keep thinking we should find a way of making them
more widely available.
COLOURED PHOTOS ON THIS PAGE BY LILY URBANSKA