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  • Writer's pictureLorraine Ayrton

Return From Prague

Oh WOW what a week.

I really can't explain how amazing it really was, but i'm going to have a go.

I've been on the 8 Bit Symphony project for around 2 years, collecting visuals for the team.

Whether this be for promotional use or documentation.

While this has been happening, i've never been in the same room with ALL of the key members of the team.

So for me, Prague was a First for me.

The key members of the team are: (Hoping I get this info all right haha)

Chris Abbott - The mastermind behind the project. This project (to the outside world) was pretty much a far fetched idea that could never possibly happen, yet somehow he really has made it happen.

Ally Pickering - He is someone the world should look out for, he is a musical genius.

Ally has been in charge of making sure the musical scores are correct and ultimately possible for an orchestra to play on conversion from 8 Bit music (SID Music) to actual musical scores. What makes this even more surprising is he is actually still in his early 20's.

Rob Hubbard - Rob is / was a computer game music scorer with a career spanning 3 decades.

He worked on the earliest computer games (Commodore, Spectrum - which is what this project is about) all the way through to early Playstation and Mega Drive games.

His works from the 80's are some of the converted tracks and he has worked alongside Ally to get them all converted into ACTUAL musical scores.

Robin Tait - The Conductor. Once the scores are completed, Robin gives the final check of them. He works alongside Rob and Ally to make sure an orchestra can play to the standards set in the musical scores. For example, a section in the music originally may have been super fast through the computer (On the game), naturally you would have to bring that down, however Robin would advise whether it could be brought up more OR help find the loopholes to help make it sound faster using various other instruments.

Once the scores are finalised he then conducts the orchestra to deliver the final piece.

L-R Chris ,Ally & Rob

Watching them work in unison was amazing.

I spent most of the time in the gallery with Chris, Rob, Ally and the producers, and saw first hand them changing things to suit as it was happening.

Robin meanwhile was on the floor with the Czech Studio Orchestra pushing them to boundaries I don't think they have ever been to before, relaying back to the team what may (Or may not) be enhanced or ultimately what needs to be dropped.

An example of this was having 4 trumpets and reducing it to 2. (I think then in edit they will be duplicating the 2 to make it back to the original 4)

It was such a complex thing to watch BUT Ally, Rob and Robin nailed it and knew exactly what they wanted.

Everything was executed with military precision, from the orchestra themselves to start and finishing times.

It was a work ethic like i've never seen before BUT it worked and something I will definitely take away with me.

Overall, it was 2 and a half days of recording.

Day 1 was emotional. Sadly Ben Daglish, who was another computer game scorer passed away before the execution of all the work they had done materialised.

Ben knew where this project was going and was a key part of the early stages.

From personal experience and having met Ben once, he talked passionately about 8 Bit Symphony and was so excited about where it was going.

So to be in Prague, watching a world class orchestra play his music was really emotional.

For me I was filled with anger, not a negative anger but more of a frustrated anger.

He should of been there. (Ben would of been playing IN the orchestra if he had been here - he was a musical genius on another level)

In the same breath I was filled with pride, pride that his hard work prior to his death was being documented in a way that will be with us for infinity - what a legacy.

Day 2 was equally emotional but to witness what I did that day, I will never forget it.

The last track of the day "Monty On The Run - Highest Score" music composed by Rob Hubbard himself.

Firstly, there was not a dry eye in the house.

Everyone was in tears including Robin who ultimately has to remain emotionless when conducting - he even said he nearly had to stop and re-compose himself again.

That in itself was just something.

But what happened after that was probably equally amazing.

Sat in an Irish Bar in Prague close to the studio after the recording with Rob and his wife.

We were all talking about just how much that piece took everything to another level.

Now Rob had been pretty quite since entering the pub, which was pretty strange considering he is a chatty guy but what he said next just melted me.

"Oh my God, that was F**king amazing, I am F**king good"

Rob is the most humble guy you could ever meet, he doesn't get WHY everyone loves his music, why 30 years on he is still loved by so many gamers from the retrogaming scene of the 80's worldwide.

That moment, was probably the first time he had ever acknowledged exactly how talented he was. We all burst out laughing, probably because we finally were all on the same hymn sheet lol

To see a guy who admittedly was nervous about this whole recording lark, to leaving day 2 full of pride and self belief in himself was something else.

Just goes to show really, eventually we all get that moment. Whether it is early on in our career/ life or further down the line.

So what did I personally learn from all of this.

WELL ....... quite a lot.

Ultimately, I learnt ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

This whole project has been about as far fetched as it comes really but Chris has shown, if you work damn hard anything is possible.

If people say you can't ....... Always remember YOU CAN.

Chris has put together what a "Dream Team" really is.

A group of people who collectively have skills that compliment each other, who have no airs and graces and both want the same result as the end goal.

Each and every person connected with the project BELIEVES in it and when a crazy idea gets thrown into the mix, every single person says "Bring it on".

Chris has now completed Part One of 8 Bit Symphony.

Sid Music converted to Musical Scores CHECK

Musical Scores performed by an orchestra in live capacity CHECK

Musical Scores recorded using a world renowned orchestra CHECK

Part 2 from what i've heard is going to be pretty impressive and WILL happen.

If you are somewhat intrigued by this project and want to know more head on over to the website

I am very much sure Part 2 will be announced very soon and I can't wait for the world to hear it.

So, for now I am going to sign off.

I have lots of photographs to edit from this crazy week and as soon as I can I will post some of them.

Much love,

Lorraine x

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