Monday, 31 August 2015

Force Majeure

I saw Force Majeure at last. Great film - beautifully shot, paced and performed. Human foibles ringing true.

It is Harry Pye's birthday today.

Here is the Facebook page for "Building Jerusalem" - an engaging English rugby doc and my first feature length film soundtrack.

And on the subject of Facebook, here is the Facebook event page for the songwriting workshop thing which I will be running for Glagow University's Centre For Open Studies.

Carey from Camera Obscura has had to increase her Just Giving target because folk have been so generous in her fundraising for Sarcoma UK - donate or share here.

Here is an interview with Lloyd Cole. Last question is about that Camera Obscura song (although the recorded version didn't feature 1000 Mexicans on backing vocals)....

I am currently waiting to receive a piece of music which I began several weeks ago and has since passed through the hands of five other composers (Sonia Allori, Colin Broom, John De Simone, Oliver Searle and Drew Hammond). Now it is coming back to me for a final touch up. It is one of six such pieces. The whole thing will be performed by Ensemble Thing at the Sound Festival in Aberdeen (who commissioned it) in October. Exciting.

Saturday, 29 August 2015


Here comes a French review - posted on and *automatically translated* by Facebook - of my album "Music For String Quartet, Piano And Celeste" written by one Olivier Henry:

FRANCIS MACDONALD – Music For String Quartet, Piano And Celeste – CD – 2015 TR7

I'm not a patron of classical music and I don't know actually not much. Probably more due to lack of time and need to make choices that by a real lack of interest. The Proof is that a long time ago, when some of the artists that I am regularly are engaged in a more classic, I also launches; I think of the orphan or Sylvain Chauveau for example. Some like the database discogs call it "Neo-classical"; Just for fun, I was thinking we could call it "Post-Classic"....

Latest, also the discreet that brilliant Francis Macdonald who hangs out his spats for a very long time in the heart of the scene of Glasgow, influential member of bmx bandits in their infancy, now drummer of teenage fanclub; a CV as long as your arm and a Perfect head of anti-Popstar, anything to please me. This exercise is not entirely new to him because he has already worked on this format with Max Richter and he composed regularly to illustrate films and documentaries for the BBC or stv and the question, perhaps illegitimate, I've been asking Was whether it was really of classical music. You'll tell me, who cares as long as it's good; but I wonder when even what would the ayatollah of the passionate lover, with their house and their auditorium full gramofon deutsch. On the form, to see. Yes, because "Music For String Quartet, piano and Celeste" bears his name as an identity card tattoo on the forehead: it is here only issue of string quartet, piano and Celeste, an instrument extra-ordinary halfway Between the piano and the glockenspiel that bears his name to wonder in view of the purity of its sounds. Anyway, we're in the living room, not far from the chamber music. Not because of its course pop-Rock, Francis Macdonald guard here the habits of composition which do not stick by necessarily to the so-called "Classical music"; So, the album is a succession of 11 titles ranging from 1'50 to 6'20, often built like a pop songs verses-Chorus. In substance, I have simply not the codes to say whether or not the writing of Macdonald reveals a talent worthy of the greatest composers. And I imagine these music lovers, sometimes patronising, listen to high all these coins in there seeing that of erzatz.

So much for them. Me, without these codes, I enjoy to envy these beautiful instrumental very suggestive, film, without doubt, the influence of this sub-genre that would be the soundtrack of movie or documentary. Invariably, I think so to Michael Nyman even to Yann Tiersen, I see pictures of campaigns of the Scottish borders (" Ghent "), A hot air balloon flying over the highlands (" Sunday 1 ") Or a trawler leaving the port of Muir of ORD (the wonderful "20 sep").

"Music For String Quartet, piano and Celeste" is maybe a recreation in the career of a musician best known for his investment in the Scottish pop, whatever. It is especially a great moment of peace and fullness, a musical divagation culminate who manages to carry me in his universe, exactly what I expected.
You can order it on mp3, CD or LP at

Friday, 28 August 2015


I saw "45 Years" courtesy of BAFTA Scotland this week. It has stayed with me. I'd recommend it:


Carey Lander's Just Giving Page for Sarcoma UK has now raised over £15k. Something positive. Please feel free to donate and/or share the link.

 I have been working on music for a documentary series for STV/Sky and the people that need to be pleased seem pleased so far. Hooray.

I am also doing music for a fun short film. Secret for now; hush, hush and all that.

I bought a new umbrella.

I am all booked up for London next week for the premiere of "Building Jerusalem" - great project to work on.

C'est tout.


Friday, 21 August 2015

Just Giving

I'm not going to bang on about how great a band Camera Obscura are and how privileged I feel to work with them and how brilliant a person Carey Lander is. I think the last time I tried to pay her an unvarnished compliment she told me to "Shut up."

You can read the statement they have recently put out on facebook.

Meanwhile it is cheering to see Carey's Just Giving page is raising money for a very worthy cause. A good thing born of a bad thing.

Carey often comes with me to see BAFTA Scotland screenings. This past week we saw "The Salt Of The Earth" and gave it 4 x thumbs up between us...

Before I go, The Vaselines play Summerhall, Edinburgh tonight. It probably won't be much fun. How can a band that takes themselves this seriously put on an entertaining show?

Monday, 17 August 2015

Berberian Sound Studio and Peebles Agricultural Show.

I finally got to see Berberian Sound Studio and was glad I did.  Not a comfortable watch. And I don't know that my understanding of it would fit with the director's vision. And I wished I had seen it properly in the cinema. And the person who began watching it with me had a pretty strong negative reaction to it, inviting a lively debate. But life would be dull if we all thought the same way.

On Saturday we had a family excursion to the Peebles Agriculture Show. Tractors, sheep, cows, chickens, eggs - you name it.

I caught Rick Wakeman telling a great story about learning the harpischord on Radio 3 last week. It starts at about 1 hour 19 mins 12 secs here.

Which reminds me, I liked the story of Rick Wakeman on Celebrity Mastermind. Ian Lavender walked to the black chair and John Humphreys asked him his name. Rick Wakeman shouted from the darkness, "Don't tell him, Pike!".

Now - back to writing music for a TV documentary series set in Scottish prisons.

BTW - scroll down to Page 43 of this to see who's running an evening class about Songwriting as part of Glasgow University's Short Courses program. Book early and tell your pals. Should be fun.

My website has had a wee spruce up -


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Love And Mercy

So I went to see Love And Mercy courtesy of BAFTA Scotland.

I don't listen to the Beach Boys anything like I used. I could admire Pet Sounds while never fully growing to love it (I chuckled in sympathy when the Mike Love character declared "even the happy songs are sad").. And my favourite Beach Boys song might be "Do It Again" (a bit more elemental than Brian Wilson's more texturally sophisticated 'teenage symphonies to god'). And, kitsch points aside, music biopics can often make my toes curl to the point where a pair of Aladdin's slippers might come in handy. But, reader (you're still there, right?), I thought Love And Mercy was a great watch - sweet and inspiring and moving and fun and celebratory and more.

Sure it may have boiled together a few story strands, and invented conversations and scenes in order to help tell a story in film but gosh darn it, they were making a movie, not a 40 year-long fly-on-the-wall documentary.

So - two thumbs up from me.

Monday, 10 August 2015


I've said it before and I'll say it again - I do like London.

On Sat morning I got the train down in order to see the wonderful Camera Obscura at St John's at Hackney as part of The Visions festival. En route I took a trip down Pre-Parenthood Memory Lane and actually read a newspaper. Crazy.

On arrival I made a beeline for the National Gallery and had a mooch about. I think my favourite painting was the Rembrandt self-portrait. Not that a side-on smartphone snap is going to do it any justice...

It just so happens my pal Harry Pye was having an end-of-exhibition party in Hackney so I caught up with him there. Here we are pointing at some of our Jean-Luc Godard stuff (that's me on the right):

And here's our Jean-luc Godard song and video, edited by Gordon Beswick:

Anyway. Back to Camera Obscura.

Lovely venue, brilliant gig. Lots of l-u-v in the room. It's good to be at a show where everyone seems to be dancing - a bit like a filming for Top Of The Pops.

 I caught up with old faces, ate some dreadful late-night food, had a beer in the hotel bar and went to bed. I know -  Charles Bukowski eat your heart out.

I'll be back in London for the premiere of "Building Jerusalem" at the Odeon, Leicester Square on Sept 1st. If you're there I'll be the one sporting the tasteful I AM THE COMPOSER t-shirt.

PS: A few years ago at an airport bookshop at the start of a Teenage Fanclub tour I read the first few sentences of David Nobbs "I Didn't Get Where I Am Today".  I bought it and liked it. Sad to hear he has passed away.