Atmospheric, emotional and intimate, ‘Silhouettes‘ is a beautiful collection of contemporary piano pieces designed for factual and documentary programs. Her first release for NOVA, pianist Janet Overfield is an accomplished musician who also writes for the acclaimed Playback Theatre company.
We caught up with Janet to find out more about this impressive new album:
Hi Janet! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a composer based in the UK on the North Yorkshire coast. I learnt piano from the age of 6 and have always loved writing music. Studying drama and music at university gave me lots of opportunities to compose for different theatre, film and radio projects and I became fascinated by how music can help to tell stories.
Can you tell us a bit about how your background in drama and theatre influences your compositions?
I’ve spent lots of time collaborating with writers, directors, actors and designers, working out the best way to tell a story. Now, whenever I compose, I often start from the position of a story or picture – what’s going on? What aspects of complexity, beauty and tension are there and how can the music explore and shine light on these nuances? I think this approach helps to increase the sense of depth and integrity in music, so I always come back to it.
What are the main influences or themes behind the new album?
Silhouettes is very introspective in its tone. I always think it’s particularly effective in TV & film when the music provides the wordless ‘sounds’ of a thought process. Thomas Newman does this brilliantly, and Dario Marianelli. I’ve learned a lot from the music of composers like these – how to play around with different harmony and rhythms to really draw out the gut-level essence of an idea or moment.
The tracks on Silhouettes explore various shades of personal endeavour, strivings and yearnings. The music is designed to accompany a wide array of human stories, because these are universal themes that affect all of us, whatever our story. Ultimately I wanted the music to capture the hope and momentum that carries a story forward.
Can you tell us what makes this album stand out?
The combination of sounds and melodic layers in Silhouettes is fairly personal to me but, at the same time, the music has a warm and a sort of inviting quality that I hope will feel familiar, and resonate with people’s own experience. Aesthetically, the music has a fragile and delicate sound, but there’s this steady percussive undercurrent of purpose and determination.
I think the tracks walk a line between fragility and internal strength, so they can be used to emphasise the fragility of a huge, sensational story, or the powerful significance of a quiet, humble story.
Finally, can you tell us about your favorite track on the album?
My favourite is probably Ruminate – I like the positive suspense that each new piano part builds on, and the quiet determination that kicks off with the entrance of the percussion. As it builds, there’s this swell of excitement, but it stays calm and understated. I really like the balance of opposing emotional forces in music, and Ruminate has a lot of this.
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