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Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

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Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby ManFromGlass » Thu Jan 02, 2020 2:34 pm

For the series theme. My tv reproduces this instrument really well. But I can’t tell if it’s a squeezebox or an organ. It’s a gorgeous sound, very alive and organic. Anybody know what it could be?
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jan 02, 2020 2:59 pm

I don't believe it is 'an instrument' in the singular, although I have heard versions that use an organ for it. On the TV show the opening sounds to me more like a small wind ensemble: clarinets, bassoon etc...

I know it's credited to HZ, but the theme seems to borrow heavily from Purcell's Cold Genius: What Power Art Thou from King Arthur
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby ManFromGlass » Thu Jan 02, 2020 7:19 pm

Wot? My tv speakers don’t accurately reproduce everything? Imagine that :think: :mrgreen:
I’ll sit closer on next listen. If it’s not some kind of reed(s) then it’s time for a hearing test.

Wasn’t it Stravinsky who said "if you are going to steal (borrow?) then steal(borrow) from the best?
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sat Jan 04, 2020 2:19 pm

if it’s not some kind of reed(s)

Clarinets, bassoons etc ARE reed instruments!
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby ManFromGlass » Sat Jan 04, 2020 8:32 pm

I probably rushed that statement out in an uncaffeinated morning state. I was thinking more of accordion or bellows driven style instrument. After more listening it could be low clarinets mixed with a bellows style instrument. I’m not hearing the nasal timbre of oboe, English horn etc.
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jan 04, 2020 8:45 pm

Definitely clarinets for the main part....
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby BJG145 » Sat Jan 04, 2020 10:39 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:For the series theme. My tv reproduces this instrument really well. But I can’t tell if it’s a squeezebox or an organ.

I know what you mean...I'm listening to the opening seconds of this quite loud on headphones...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_46PNVriyOk

...and there's a very even swell combined with a soft rustling sound that reminds me of some kind of old-fashioned organ; I'm picturing something like this though I don't know what it sounds like! Probably nothing like that.

Image

Reddit have done the same organ v clarinet debate.

https://www.reddit.com/r/TheCrownNetfli ... ys_on_the/
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:26 pm

It does sound like a harmonium, but then i've never had a clarinet section to play with. :D
Sounds almost too pure to be a harmonium though, so i'm leaning towards clarinets.
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby MOF » Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:57 am

Firstly a caveat, I listened on my iphone speaker, I think it’s a harmonium and clarinet.
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby Wonks » Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:01 pm

Maybe a sampler-based instrument or even a synth? The overall series soundtrack is a mixture of orchestra and synth sounds.
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:14 pm

Sounds like an organ of some sort to me, too. Classic FM reckons a church organ: Zimmer’s powerful theme for The Crown opens with the sound of a haunting church organ playing a series of sustained notes, before a mighty drum crescendo leads us into a repeated tremolo figure in the strings.

But could easily be a harmonium type. I have an old foot pump one that sounds very similar.
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Mon Jan 06, 2020 4:07 pm

It's a brilliant piece of work.

I'm fairly sure it's oboes and clarinets. Not a keyboard instrument- although it sounds like it was written on a keyboard/ by a keyboard player. My wife is learning violin- turns out the theme is a bit of a challenge for hand positioning. I think that's another side-effect of it being written on a keyboard.
ManFromGlass wrote: I’m not hearing the nasal timbre of oboe, English horn etc.
Isn't that because it's being played softly? But the levels are not the natural acoustic balances. Typical thing for cinema- turn the quiet stuff way up so you can hear 4 reed instruments over an entire string section going full tilt. I also think it's extremely difficult to articulate the notes that way with a harmonium, especially the attack- whereas that's very easy for a wind player to do.
Hugh Robjohns wrote:I know it's credited to HZ, but the theme seems to borrow heavily from Purcell's Cold Genius: What Power Art Thou from King Arthur
Oh, nicely spotted! I've never heard that piece before. Very interesting to compare. I hear what you mean. The harmony and voicing is the same but the progression and orchestration is different (obviously). I think Zimmer's progression is more focussed on the drama? Or maybe it is for more modern tastes? The Purcell sounds to me to be more avant garde than dramatic because he goes a long way with the progression. But what do I know, I wasn't around in 1690.
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Re: Opening instrument in The Crown tv series Theme?

Postby MOF » Mon Jan 06, 2020 7:43 pm

Maybe a sampler-based instrument

That can mean any sound source, acoustic or electronic, that's been sampled into it.
I've listened on headphones now and its definitely clarinet (I play clarinet) plus a harmonium/hand pumped organ.
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