As part of my work at Middle Park primary school I organised a musical for 2012. We settled on Pirates of the Curry Bean (an excellent Music Line Direct product) but needed more musical numbers to accommodate our large student body. I wrote a short prelude ‘On With The Show’ that included the songs ‘In The Navy’ (Village People), ‘Oh Better Far To Live And Die’ (Pirates of Penzance), ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’ (Annie Get Your Gun) and ‘Sailing For Adventure’ (Muppet Treasure Island). There was no problem purchasing backing tracks for the first three numbers, but I could not find a suitable backing track for Sailing For Adventure.
Because I was feeling insane I decided to record one myself. Using Audacity and an old keyboard that had been donated to the school I transcribed the melody and bass lines from the original soundtrack and then transposed them into a key that was more suitable for the children’s voices. I recorded them directly into Audacity using a cable linking the keyboard and my laptop together. I then set about orchestrating the other parts. Luckily the keyboard had a wide variety of sounds and I had an entire orchestra at my fingertips. I slowly layered the parts to create a fuller sound, building up the tone colours using strings and horns. I reinforced the melody so that it was easier to sing along to, sometimes doubling the melody at the octave with a glockenspiel for emphasis. I added the percussion last and bought a royalty-free sound effect of seagulls to add at the start. The whole process took me a few weeks working at it in my spare time. It was a really fun experience and I enjoyed tinkering with Audacity, digitally tweaking my arrangement as I added new parts.
I am quite pleased with the end result given that it was my first effort at something like this.