Back to Interview/Profile INDEX
Yes, these ears are 100% real and all mine!



The socially stunted (or blunted) Doctor Martin Ellingham is perhaps the role actor Martin Clunes was born to play, but the hit ITV series wouldn't be success without the contributions of the supporting cast, the fine writers and directors, the producers who've kept the series' quality control at top level, the gorgeous Cornwall locations, and the infectious music scores by Colin Towns, one of England's most versatile composers who's scored every genre in every medium, and continues to record and perform his own jazz material via the Colin Towns Mask Orchestra.

During his busy schedule, Towns graciously made time to answer our picky questions about his Doc Martin series music, which hopefully the show's fans will enjoy, since the music (available on CD) and series (available on DVD) are the greatest things since sliced bread.




composer Colin Towns



Mark R. Hasan : When you moved from jazz performance and composition to film scoring, did you realize you'd be so amazingly busy and prolific, or are your diverse yearly activities a reflection of your personal and creative needs as an artist?

Colin Towns : I simply believe in good or bad music. I try to never close a door because there is always something to learn from all music. One thing is for certain - one sows some seeds and some of them grow, hence it is as normal for me to score Crimson Rivers II as it is for Angelina Ballerina or Macbeth. I have always seen the diversity of projects as a trigger to develop my skills in all areas of music and moving through all types of music as a push to explore my abilities. Only critics want to put you in a category. Yes, I am always busy, but I don't stop to think about it. I am not Stravinsky, but in terms of exploring what I can do and where it will take me, I feel a very similar drive and compulsion.


MRH : Do you find the role of composer isn't wholly different from a jazz musician, since a film composer needs a quick wit and good instincts to make sure his contributions to a film fit the performances of the actors, spoken dialogue, sound effects, and editing?

CT : Approaching film or improvised music may look similar on paper, and they do have some similarities, but my approach to writing music away from film is challenging in a very different way. A concert has to grip the audience and, like film, can be done in many ways. Composition, sounds, melody and orchestration all play a crucial role. At the same moment, it is vital to make the musicians feel valued.

I always write for each player and share out the solo areas. The music must have its own challenge and contain not only complex lines but also spaces. In my opinion, some Jazz does not appreciate the effect of silence. What happens behind the soloist is very important if one is trying to create a new or different feel or idea. Laying out chord changes will often result in the soloist playing what he or she knows and plays regularly. By creating a different colour (scale, rhythm, invading melodies etc.) one helps to take the musician somewhere else.

A fair amount of Jazz (particularly recently) does not exercise quality control. If you want an hour of music on a CD, you should record at least 1 hour 30 mins or, as Miles Davis did, many hours, until you have something strong. On a film I am part of a team and working with the director, actors, editor, script etc., which gives me a very strong discipline and also helps with my other music. Of course the film itself will drive the music and determine my thought pattern, as the music will have to support the scenes, whereas a live concert can branch out in any direction if wanted.


MRH : Britain is very unusual in that composers can work in TV, documentaries, feature films, shorts, and animated films with much more ease and less prejudice than in the U.S., where studios and some producers tend to hire a composer based on his/her most popular work in a genre wherein he/she made the greatest impact. I wonder if you have any thoughts on the kind of creative opportunities you've enjoyed in the U.K. compared to American projects, and whether you feel that, in spite of all the immense production that goes on in the States, there is a qualitative difference in Britain?

CT : I have worked in L.A. and for some time on commercials in New York. The Hollywood system doesn't sit with me as a musician. In the U.S. it's now in many cases a company or a large team of composers (or posse) producing a film soundtrack instead of one composer on his own. So one can never be quite sure if the person who claims the credit for composing has really done the work. Still, some fantastic music is happening there, but working in such a narrow and formulaic system is not my idea of ‘having a good day.' There is more to life than having your name on a poster. I have good friends in the U.S. but I am a natural European and not driven by how many swimming pools you've got. I believe Britain can offer good opportunities with possibly less formula and restrictions than the US .

Crimson Rivers 2 CD

Read the CD review!

Read the CD review!

On to Page 2 ____Go to Page 2
Related Links___Exclusive Interviews & Profiles___Site FAQ
Back to Top of Page __ Back to MAIN INDEX (KQEK Home)
Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colours, and optimized for MS Explorer 6.0. KQEK Logo and All Original KQEK Art, Interviews, Profiles, and Reviews Copyright © 2001-Present by Mark R. Hasan. All Rights Reserved. Additional Review Content by Contributors 2001-Present used by Permission of Authors. Additional Art Copyrighted by Respective Owners. Reproduction of any Original KQEK Content Requires Written Permission from Copyright Holder and/or Author.