The man behind the music: Q&A with Robin Beanland, composer/performer on The Three Little Pigs - Nosy Crow Skip to content
Posted by Deb, March 21, 2011

The man behind the music: Q&A with Robin Beanland, composer/performer on The Three Little Pigs

It’s funny to think that we didn’t include music in our initial plans for The Three Little Pigs. Back then, we didn’t know how much it would underscore the story’s drama and the characters’ personalities. Thanks to Robin Beanland, now Three Little Pigs app enthusiasts everywhere are humming along as they read. By day, Robin works in the games industry creating audio and composing music for Rare Ltd as their audio director. In his spare time, he’s the man behind the music of The Three Little Pigs app. We thought you might like to know more.

What sort of work have you done in the past? Have you ever made music for an app?

I’ve been composing music for video games for the past 17 years. Prior to that I wrote music for TV with a smattering of session work on various albums and library CDs. I can honestly say this is the first children’s book I’ve written music for.

How did you get involved with The Three Little Pigs app?

Ed Bryan called me just before Christmas and asked if I would be interested in writing some music for a project he was working on. If memory serves correctly, I think I replied something along the lines of “I thought you’d never ask.” ☺

Did you use real instruments to make the music or is it digitally generated?

I played a bit of trumpet and harmonica, the rest of the score was generated using sampled versions of traditional orchestral instruments.

What sort of feelings were you trying to evoke with the music?

The first thing I wanted to do was to write a tune that was upbeat, positive and friendly. I wanted the tune to allow me to introduce the personalities of the three main characters. This is the first piece of music you hear on the title screen of the app and it’s one of the main themes that runs throughout.

Next I focused on the wolf. I didn’t want anything too scary but I still wanted the music to be ever so slightly menacing. I wanted it to be something that I could have fun with. I think this comes across in the scenes where the wolf is chasing the pigs down the road and at the climax of the story where I use ‘laughing’ woodwinds and wah trumpet.

Why did you make each character have unique music?

I wanted to use the music as a tool for reinforcing each character’s personality. I chose certain instruments to help make that happen. So you have whistle, piccolo and banjo for the little pigs and contra bassoon and bass clarinet for the wolf. I think listening to Peter and the Wolf as a child probably influenced my decisions about which instruments to use for each of the characters in The Three Little Pigs.

What was the most challenging thing about working on this project?

To be honest the biggest challenge was the amount of time I had to get the music written! The project fell around the Christmas period and an unusually busy January. I did have a nice view from the studio window to inspire me though.

What was the most fulfilling part of working on this app?

For me it was the interactive music. I wanted the music to change as children tapped on different parts of the screen and on the characters. When I initially suggested this to Will he said we didn’t have time to implement it. But within hours I got an email from him saying “Actually I think we can do it!” A few days later Ed and Will popped round with the latest version of the app and Will had worked his magic. I remember giggling as he tapped the pigs and we heard their individual melodies fade up. It was brilliant!

What’s next?

Making an app with a live orchestra… ☺

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