Podcast: Live Scores

Music is integral to both the cinematic and gaming experience and there are a growing number of artists turning their hand to composing for film and games. Live score performances – where ensembles play live music while the film plays on a screen above them – are also increasing in prevalence and popularity led by the example of long time collaborators Jonny Greenwood and Paul Thomas Anderson with their performances of There Will Be Blood and, more recently, Phantom Thread.

Speaking at SXSW in Austin, Texas in March 2018, we brought together a fantastic panel to discuss the world of live score and the bridges being formed between the worlds of music, film and gaming. Our conversation features Adrian Utley (Portishead) who shares his experiences, including as co-composer of the score for Arcadia (2017) with Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory. Stuart Brown from the British Film Institute brings the commissioner’s perspective as he talks us through pictures and stories from previous BFI projects. We also have creative producer and programmer Laura Ducceschi on board talk about live score gaming project Dear Esther. Joel Mills from the British Council’s Music team chairs the panel – for the past few years Joel has been developing a programme of international collaborations championing the combination of music and visual media.

Take a listen to highlights from the SXSW conversation here – essential listening for anyone interested in live score work.


Live Score: Connecting Film, Music and Gaming



Adrian Utley and Will Gregory find inspiration in glam rock, folk and psychedelia for their new film score to Paul Wright’s Arcadia. The film draws on a century of archive footage to reveal the story of British people’s shifting relationship with the land. The film is distributed by BFI – find out more here.


Dear Esther

The computer game Dear Esther changed the gaming landscape on its release in 2012. Its music – courtesy of BAFTA winning composer Jessica Curry – has been integral to the game’s success. More recently, live score performances of the game have been staged as audiences follow the action while the game is played in real time in front of them accompanied by a live orchestra.


Bringing British music to America at SXSW

There is no denying that South by Southwest (SXSW) today is one of the greatest places on earth to meet people within the creative industries, including the tech giants, and no longer the preserve of emerging US bands alone. What began in 1987 as a series of conversations about the entertainment industry for a few hundred specialists has now grown into the biggest festival of its kind anywhere featuring film premieres, art installations, interactive media, gaming and, of course, music which has been central to the whole experience since the very beginning. This made the perfect setting for our panel discussion about live score performance.

It’s also a great time to be British at SXSW. In 2017, BBC Music curated a showcase of 30 emerging artists from the UK and British Underground teamed up with Jazz Re:freshed to bring some of the most exciting names in British jazz to the attention of a US audience. In 2018, London Mayor Sadiq Khan was invited to deliver a key note speech at SXSW, further reinforcing the idea of a British advance on Texas. In recent years, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and former President Barack Obama have addressed the crowds.

Arts Council England and British Underground were also among the UK contingent through their joint support for a range of cross-disciplinary art and debate. British composer Max Richter – who lent his talents to last year’s Mix The Body for the British Council UK-India season – provided music for the opening concert of SXSW with the US premiere of his 8 hour piece, 'Sleep'.