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Gaspard The Fox

Composer Chris Warner talks about creating the musical score and sound design for the Audible version of Zeb Soanes and James Mayew’s children’s book Gaspard The Fox, published by Graffeg.

 
 

Gaspard's first adventure....

Gaspard the Fox is a delightful, critically acclaimed Children's story book written by Zeb Soanes (Presenter and Newsreader on Radio 4, BBC Proms, BBC4) and James Mayhew (creator of the much-loved Ella Bella Ballerina series and many other books, including The Knight Who Took All Day, Koshka’s TalesMiranda the Explorer and Boy).

This is a delightful story and after listening to it the world somehow seemed to be a better and nicer place.
— Audible Review

Zeb asked if I would like to compose and design a soundtrack to accompany the Audiobook publication, in addition to supervising the final mixing and delivery of the project, under the direction of Jennifer Howard (formerly head of BBC Audiobooks) at www.soundunderstanding.co.uk.

From the moment I first read Zeb’s words and saw James’ artwork I was enchanted by this tale of friendship, adventure and belonging. The music very much wrote itself, such is the colourful imagery and immediate charm of the characters and storyline, not to mention Zeb’s own richly nuanced and deftly characterised narration.

Meet Gaspard the Fox as he sets out one summer evening in search of adventure and something to eat. On his travels he meets a superior cat named Peter and Finty the dog, who help him navigate the local canal in his hunt for supper.

Firstly there's Gaspard himself,  ‘young, energetic, polite, kind (rather like Zeb himself)’, as producer Jennifer Howard explained in the initial brief. So out came the faithful accordion as I searched for a musical theme fitting for our red haired hero.

Then there's Peter the cat, ‘haughty, arrogant, but decent enough once you get to know him’. It’s pretty clear Peter is the kind of cat who likes to appear sophisticated, pontificating from his perch on the wall. And so his theme emerged out of a few simple but haughty Jazz riffs, with accompanying harp ‘tail flicks’ courtesy of @beckyapplin 

Now Finty the dog on the other hand is ‘honest, friendly, loyal and somewhat fearless, with a cheerful, bright bark’. I'm not much of a Ukulele player but I tamed one just enough to capture her friendly yaps.

Special thanks also to @one_to_read for playing the ‘Laughing Man’ on his own rather fine squeezebox.

The children’s book to watch out for
— Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times
 

A post shared by Chris Warner (@cwarnermusic) on

 


It was a joy creating the musical score for this gem of a book. For some added authenticity and atmosphere Zeb and I also spent a day recording sounds in and around Acton to create the perfect backdrop for Gaspard’s adventures by the Canal and in the market. We also took the opportunity capturing the ‘click, whirr, clunk’ of Zeb’s Brompton bike, which takes a cameo role in the story.

The audiobook is now available to buy from https://www.audible.co.uk and the hardback is available from Graffeg Publishing.