Music for radio sitcom WOODEN OVERCOATS

Wooden Overcoats: a podcast sitcom created by David. K. Barnes.

Rudyard Funn runs a funeral home on the island of piffling. It used to be the only one. It isn’t anymore.

When sexy, new undertaker Eric Chapman sets up shop across the road, Rudyard is thrown into a spiral of envy, obsession and mania, from which he – and the island – may never recover.

With his frustrated sister Antigone, dogsbody Georgie, and a mouse called Madeleine, will Rudyard ever defeat his impossibly charming rival?

Wooden Overcoats is the first full-studio podcast sitcom in the UK or abroad. Created by a previously unknown team of rising talent, the show is written by five of the UK’s best new comic writers (including Royal Court playwright Cordelia Lynn and Shock Treatment stage writer Tom Crowley), features an original orchestral score, and includes some of the biggest names in British comedy.

I was invited to compose the music by John Wakefield, a dear friend and a wonderful radio producer. Here’s the end theme:

“We’ll get the body in the coffin in the ground ON TIME!”
The music was lots of fun to write. I enjoy the challenge of writing music to constraints. With soundtracks each note has to be necessary, focused and precise in what it conveys. No change there, then. But capturing the essence of a place, a mood, a person, for me requires a lot of thought and experimentation. The process reminds me not to hold onto material unnecessarily. Luckily, I’ve not been precious about material for a long time. What’s more, I had helpful support from John, who I had worked with before on award-winning radio drama The New World Order.

John, co-producer Andy Goddard and I discussed at length the peculiarities of Piffling village, nuances of the characters, and the story arc of the series. We agreed that music would be sparse throughout to maintain a naturalistic feel and augment the absurdity of the comedy. I just needed to get the theme right first.

I sent John and Andy six ideas for the main theme, all involving an organ for that funereal feel. Once that was there, I made a number of variations: short cues that could be dotted around the series. I then wrote extended diegetic cues for specific scenes (ep 2 Funeral Jazz Band, ep 3 French New Wave film soundtrack, ep 5 Mexican restaurant Mariachi band…). There was also some special non-diegetic cues for episodes 7 and 8 – but you’ll have to listen to find out why.

We recorded the whole soundtrack in a day at the University of York in the reverberant Jack Lyons Hall. It was a real pleasure to work with John and Andy, both highly skilled professionals who have done a super job mastering the music. I was also lucky to have brilliant musicians in the Piffling Philharmonic:

Trumpet – Patrick Jones
Trombone – Ollie Pickup
Organ – Thomas Dewey
Piano – Jin Hyung Lim
Percussion – Sarah Holmes
Mandolin – Karl Kramer
Guitars – Carlo Estolano & Ben Clark
Violin – Dan Hodd
Cello – William Descrettes
Composer/Conductor – James Whittle
Recording Engineer (Music) – Jethro Bagust

The Piffling Philharmonic

“Enjoy yourselves!”
Wooden Overcoats features some of the biggest established and rising names in British comedy, including Belinda Lang, Andy Secombe, Ciara Baxendale, Andy Hamilton, Julia Deakin, Thom Tuck, Max Olesker, Catriona Knox and Paul Putner.

Each 30 minute episode will be released weekly over eight weeks from 24 September, as a podcast available from iTunes, Stitcher, the Windows Store, or wherever you download podcasts.

You can either listen direct from the website, searching on iTunes and hitting SUBSCRIBE, or you can enter into your podcast client.

Sarah, Andy, Will, Karl, Jin, James, and John

Here we are in rehearsal:

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