You are on page 1of 17

Journal of Film Music 3.

2 (2011) 155-170

ISSN (print) 1087-7142

ISSN (online) 1758-860X


A Source-Studies Approach to Michael Nymans

Score for The Draughtsmans Contract
David Cooper
School of Music, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, West Yorkshire, UK

Ian Sapiro
School of Music, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, West Yorkshire, UK
Abstract: The composer Michael Nyman has donated a unique collection of his original sound materials and other
documentation to the University of Leeds on long-term loan for scholarly investigation. There are more than 500
individual items in the archive, which includes film, television and concert music, as well as associated items of
paperwork, and the films directed by Peter Greenaway feature strongly in the collection.
Evidence for the underlying creative processes in film composition can be found within the source materials which
include the source recordings and stereo mixdowns of cues, materials often disposed of by film and television
companies after a films release or TV programs broadcast. This article questions the extent to which the surviving
audio and supporting documentary materials reflect the development of the score and the relationships between
Nymans music and Greenaways images as exemplified in the non-mainstream film The Draughtsmans Contract.
Keywords: Nyman; The Draughtsmans Contract; film score; source studies; archive

FOX: I suppose [] you still havent worked with your

ideal film collaborator in the shape of a director?
NYMAN: Im constantly asked this question. It would
have to be Greenaway because, you know, in the five
or six feature films that I did with him, the music is
allowed to breathe, and as a composer I was given
freedom to create with as few restraints as possible at
the point of composing. At the point of synchronising
the music with the picture then its sort of taken out of
your hands.1
1 David Cooper, Christopher Fox, and Ian Sapiro, eds., CineMusic?
Constructing the Film Score (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008),

NYMAN: [] no film apart from a Greenaway film is
open enough to accept any kind of music.2

Although Michael Nyman has achieved considerable
success as a composer for both experimental and
mainstream cinema, he found the most significant
creative autonomy in his collaborations with the
2 Ibid., 171.

Copyright the International Film Music Society, published by Equinox Publishing Ltd 2011, Unit S3, Kelham House, 3 Lancaster Street, Sheffield, S3 8AF.


director Peter Greenaway, as the opening quotations

suggest. The films on their own give little indication
of the processes by which their scores were crafted,
and in this paper we draw on the evidence provided
in an archive of primary sonic, textual, and visual
materials held by the University of Leeds, and a
model of conventional scoring practice, to theorize
Nymans approach in his music for The Draughtsmans
We argue that, while the underlying technical
phases of this model of production may be broadly
retained, the elaboration or refinement of the
musical material in relation to the visual component
is significantly different in this film, notably the
absence of documentation relating to spotting and
synchronization. Other materials in the archive
indicate that this approach is characteristic of
Nymans working methods for Greenaways films.

Michael Nyman and NonMainstream Film Scoring

Michael Nymans career as film composer began in
1976, with his score for the bawdy British comedy film
Keep it Up Downstairs, a spoof of the popular British
television drama series Upstairs, Downstairs. This
followed a period of twelve years of compositional
silence during which he worked in a series of art
schools and as a music critic for The Spectator and
Music and Musicians. In 1974 he wrote his influential
monograph on the experimental tradition Experimental
Music: Cage and Beyond.3 Nyman has remarked that
period music was required for Keep it Up Downstairs,
and that the recovery and discovery of low-grade
music was a collective interest of an influential
group of experimental composers, including Hobbs,
Shrapnell, Skempton, and White.4 In discussion
with Christopher Fox, Nyman noted that when I
was asked to do a mainstream film that involved
Edwardian music I knew it, so all I had to do was take
an Ezra Reid piece from out of this Scratch Orchestra
context and put it into an EMI film context; from
there, as a resourceful composer, it was pretty easy to
do my own Edwardian pastiche.5
Nyman brought to film scoring both what he
considered as calculated re-articulation of the
classics,6 and a concern for musical process from his
3 (London: Studio Vista, 1974).
4 Cooper et al., CineMusic?, 166-67.
5 Ibid., 167.
6 Michael Nyman, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, 2nd edn (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1999), 162.

The International Film Music Society 2011.

interest in experimentalism. The latter is illustrated

by his score for Peter Greenaways 1-100, for which
the director apparently requested music that would
provide a rhythm to which he could edit the film.
This Nyman describes as a kind of numerical piece,
arranged so that there was a series of 1 to 100 chords
which got longer and longer and longer, because 100 is
longer than 1.7 For Pwyll ap Sin:
A key element in understanding the Nyman
Greenaway collaboration lies in the unique
relationship formed between sound and image in their
work. The role of film music traditionally has been to
enhance and heighten the films visual and emotive
qualities. Nyman and Greenaway established a radical
alternative approach where music existed separately
and autonomously from the visual narrative.8

This view of the interactions between the visual and

auditory fields appears to be confirmed by Nymans
publicly and privately expressed views about the
working relationship between Greenaway and himself.
Elsewhere, we have described how evidence
for the underlying creative processes in film
composition can be found within the source
materials, and how their archaeology can reveal
valuable interpretative insights.9 Similarly, recent
publications by Miguel Mera and David Burnand
have drawn on testimony from composers to further
elucidate the creation, development, and function
of their film scores, and are part of a growing
body of scholarship which utilizes a source-studies
approach.10 Given the distinctions between Nymans
approach to film scoring and that generally adopted
in the cinematic mainstream, it seems appropriate
to question the extent to which the surviving audio
and supporting documentary materials reflect the
development of the score and the relationships
between Nymans music and Greenaways images.
We consider here the approach exemplified by
Nyman in The Draughtsmans Contract, but before
this can be addressed, the context of the source
materials and their place within the film-scoring
process must be established.

7 Cooper et al., CineMusic?, 167.

8 Pwyll ap Sin, The Music of Michael Nyman: Texts, Contexts and Intertexts
(Farnham: Ashgate, 2007), 85.
9 See Authors chapter in Cooper et al., CineMusic?, 17-32.
10 Miguel Mera, Mychael Dannas The Ice Storm: A Film Score Guide (Lanham,
MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007); David Burnand, Scoring This Filthy Earth,
in European Film Music, ed. David Burnand and Miguel Mera (Aldershot:
Ashgate, 2006), 178-90.

Cooper AND SAPIRO 157

The Michael Nyman Archive

The composer Michael Nyman has donated a unique
collection of his original sound materials and other
documentation to the University of Leeds on longterm loan for scholarly investigation. There are
more than 500 individual items in the archive,
which includes film, television, and concert music,
as well as associated items of paperwork (see Table
1). Films directed by Greenaway feature strongly in
the collection, and these include: 1-100 (1978), The
Draughtsmans Contract (1982), A Zed and Two Noughts
(1985), Drowning by Numbers (1988), The Cook, the
Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), and Prosperos
Books (1991). There are also artefacts relating to
mainstream feature films such as The Piano (directed
by Jane Campion, 1993) and Christopher Hamptons
Carrington (1995). The television resources include
the two series of the comedy drama Fairly Secret
Army (1984 and 1986), the television opera The Man
who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (1986), and a number
of themes for advertisements. The audio resources,
which include the source recordings and stereo
mixdowns of cues, are stored on a wide range of
analog and digital media formats, some of which
are virtually redundant and as a result are largely
inaccessible in their current form.
Materials relating to the works of some prominent
film-score composers such as Max Steiner and
Bernard Herrmann are held at university libraries in
the United States,11 but holdings such as those at the
University of Leeds, which relate to scores by Trevor
Jones as well as Michael Nyman, are extremely rare
in the United Kingdom. Such resources can also be
found in private collections, particularly those of
the composers themselves, and it is possible that
resources are retained in some studio libraries, though
the extent of such collections is currently unknown
and very difficult to estimate. Such materials have
little or no value to film and television companies
after a films release or TV programs broadcast, and
accordingly they are often viewed as waste products
and are disposed of on completion of a project; when
they are retained, items held privately or by the
studios are rarely made available for scholarly scrutiny.
Nyman donated the resource to the University
of Leeds as an outcome of a joint Film and Music
Conference held by the Universities of Leeds and
11 For example, Bernard Herrmanns materials at the University of
California, Santa Barbara; the Max Steiner Collection at Brigham Young
University, Utah; Roy Webbs scores at Syracuse University, New York; and
the Warner Brothers Archives at the University of Southern California, Los

The International Film Music Society 2011.

Huddersfield during the 2006 Bradford International

Film Festival at the National Media Museum. He
was the keynote speaker at the event and was
interested to hear about the recent donation to the
University of Leeds of around 400 session tapes and
associated documentation by Trevor Jones, who was
the featured composer at the first Film and Music
Conference held in the previous year.12 Around 20
percent of the material in the Trevor Jones Archive
was subsequently digitized as part of a small Arts
& Humanities Research Council (AHRC) research
award, and this provided important insights into the
technical and creative processes surrounding filmscore production, particularly the developments which
took place between the various spotting sessions and
final mixdown.13 Nyman suggested that his material,
which at that stage was held in a private storage
facility, could offer researchers and students an
equally valuable resource, and his generous offer was
accepted by the University of Leeds Library. The audio
tapes, hard drives, and related documentation are
now retained in temperature- and humidity-controlled

A Source Model for Film Scoring in

Mainstream Cinema
In our use of the term mainstream we are
simultaneously referencing the commercial drivers,
the aesthetic characteristics and the systems of
production of films. Many of the pictures that Trevor
Jones has scored (for which materials are held in the
Jones Archive at Leeds) and that Nyman has scored
since the end of his collaboration with Greenaway
were written for a broad popular audience, produced
by major companies and released into first run
cinemas. They generally have had significant budgets
with large casts led by high-profile actors, and
technical crews which are strongly segmented by
their production role. Underlying processes tend to be
highly specified and carefully documented, and are
usually (for commercial as much as technical reasons)
very methodical and tightly managed. Discussion
with Jones and a number of other film composers
12 Joness keynote interview is published in Cooper et al., CineMusic?, 1-14.
He is the composer of a number of successful mainstream films such as
The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Sea of Love, Arachnophobia, The Last of the Mohicans,
Cliffhanger, In the Name of the Father, Brassed Off, Notting Hill and The League of
Extraordinary Gentlemen.
13 The application of this research to Joness score for Sea of Love (1989) is
examined in the Authors chapter in Cooper et al., CineMusic?, 17-32; and to
In the Name of the Father (1993) in David Cooper, Trevor Joness Score for In
the Name of the Father, in Derek B. Scott, ed., The Ashgate Research Companion
to Popular Musicology (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), 29-42.


Table 1. Film and Television Source Materials Held in the Michael Nyman Archive

Non-audio materials (all titles have audio materials)

A Zed and Two Noughts


Cue sheet

Alice and Elsa

Sonic solutions sheet

And Do They Do
Annabel and Dorothy

2 cue sheets

British Rail

2 cue sheets

Cadburys Whole Nut

Cue sheet; AMPEX grand master audio mastering tape;

performance uniformity chart


Spotting notes; cue sheet; notes; recording & mixing schedule;

drawing of recording layout for ensemble

Childs Play

Cue sheet

Citizen Interiors

Cue sheets

Coca Cola
The Cold Room
The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover

Cue sheets


8 cue sheets

Death in the Seine

Cue sheets; 6" floppy disk

The Diary of Anne Frank

Eastcote Productions Producers and Engineers Cookbook

(contains pitch ratios and BPM click tables, etc.); cue sheets; 3
pages of cues with timings/spotting sheets

The Draughtsmans Contract

Cue sheets; press cuttings; concert program

Drowning by Numbers

Track listing sheets

Enemy Zero

Cue sheets


Cue sheets

Fairly Secret Army I & II

Track sheet with details of musicians present at morning and

afternoon recording sessions; cue sheets

Fall of Icarus

2 take listing sheets

Final Score

2 cue sheets; 4 hand-written A4 pages of takes with timings

Flying Lines

VHS cassette

Goodbye Frankie, Goodbye Benny

Cue sheets


Recording & mixing schedule

The Hairdressers Husband

Cue sheets; lists of takes

The International Film Music Society 2011.

Cooper AND SAPIRO 159

Harpsichord Concerto

Full score

Hewlett Packard
Hybrid Kids
Il Palio

Cue sheet

Italian Straw Hat


Cue sheets; list of takes; track sheets; notes on seating arrangement

Kingdom Come
The Kiss

Cue sheet

La Sept
La Traverse de Paris
Lincoln Cars
London Brass
Making A Splash
The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat
The Masterwork

6" floppy disk


Cue sheet

Michael Nyman Band

Musique Grand Vitesse

Cue sheet


Cue sheet; timing information

Nestle Pet Foods

Cue sheet

Not Mozart

Cue sheet


3 unlabelled 6" floppy disks; take lists


Recording & mixing schedule

The Ogre
Orpheus Dockter
Out of the Ruins
The Piano
The Princess of Milan

Tape strip from mixing desk; effects settings; list of takes

Prosperos Books



Scene/music/action sheet

Russian Mass
Self Laudatory Hymn of Inanna & Her
The International Film Music Society 2011.

Take lists


Snarl Up
Son of Brid List
Song Book

CD liner; written music

Strange Attractors
The Tempest

Written music for When the Bee Sucks, Before you Can Say,
Full Fathom Five, and from LOrgie Parisienne on Paris Se
Repeuple/Rimbauld May 1871; cue sheets; three 3.5" floppy disks

Touch the Earth

Trombone Concerto

Full score

Vanity Faire

A large amount of as yet uncategorized press cuttings relating to

Michael Nyman and his scores

and orchestrators active in the UK has demonstrated

the extent to which such long-established practices
and supporting documentary source materials still
underpin the film-scoring process (though they may
be mediated in different ways by new technologies).
These are illustrated in Table 2, below.
The theoretical source chain model we describe
here follows the example of that presented by Lszl
Somfai in Bla Bartk: Composition, Concepts, and
Autograph Sources.14 This model is particularly suitable
for investigating film-scoring processes since it enables
the inclusion of a broad range of source typestextual,
visual, and auraland is also sufficiently malleable
to allow for the flexibility inherent in film-score
composition. For Somfai, the generic source chain
model for Bartks work incorporates eight source types
and involves four discrete phases of activity:

the primary creative process

fixing and testing
correcting (including the correction of errors,
and late revisions to the work).

In the model presented here, which is extended from

the chronological description of standard scoring
processes given by Karlin and Wright,15 we identify
14 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996), 28-32.
15 Fred Karlin and Rayburn Wright, On the Track (New York: Schirmer
Books, 1990), 11.

The International Film Music Society 2011.

twelve potential steps running from the composers

first engagement with the film to its dubbing and
release. There are naturally some activities which
may postdate the cinematic release, such as the
production of soundtrack albums, and the creation
and performance of concert versions of cues, though
we ignore these in this model on the grounds that
the music serves a different function when detached
from the film. Table 2, below, places the 12 potential
steps derived from Karlin and Wright within the four
phases of activity identified by Somfai, and provides
examples of the range of source materials and types
associated with each step.
The twelve steps involve various source types,
symbolic encoding of music (whether in
conventional staff notation or as computer
data for software such as Sibelius, Finale or
graphical representations (for example of mixer
or outboard equipment settings);
audio and video (which in both cases may be
analog or digital).
Individual links in the source chain may be missing,
and some steps may be omitted or occur in a slightly
varied order, but, as shown in Table 2, the entire
process of score production can be loosely defined

Cooper AND SAPIRO 161

Table 2: Generic Model of Scoring Processes and Sources


Step Film-scoring process16

Source material

Source type

Meeting filmmakers


Shooting script


Initial spotting


Spotting notes
Temp track
Locked picture




Budgets and schedules


Timings and


Timing sheet





Music/MIDI (audio)



Short scores
Electronic toolkits

Music/MIDI (audio)
Music/MIDI (audio)



mock ups (multitrack)
Cue sheets

Audio (MIDI Music)



Second spotting (demo)


Second spotting notes

Edited cue sheets (from


Composing (revisions/


Short scores

Music/MIDI (audio)
Music/MIDI (audio)


Orchestration (unless
purely electronic)


Full score







Takes (multitrack)
Take cue sheets
Marked up/new parts/
Outboard equipment
Mixdowns (multichannel
Mixdown cue sheets


Sync pop placement

Theatrical release

Video and audio




as falling into four phases of activity (which may16

potentially overlap) in alignment with Somfais model:
1. an initial preparatory period including
technical groundwork and conceptualization;
2. a primary creative period, including
composition and orchestration (adopting
a broad definition of the latter term
16 Derived from Karlin and Wright through study of source materials from
a mainstream score by Trevor Jones. See Authors chapter in Cooper et al.,
CineMusic?, 17-32.

The International Film Music Society 2011.


encompassing such elements as the

employment of electronic toolkits and the
creation of demo recordings);
3. editing and revision;
4. recording and mixdown.
The apparent rigidity of the film-scoring process
as outlined in Table 2 seems at odds with Nymans
freedom to create with as few restraints as possible
when composing music for Greenaways films. The
following case study of The Draughtsmans Contract


uses source materials to evaluate Nymans approach

to film scoring, with particular regard to mainstream
processes as outlined above.

The Draughtsmans Contract

Set in 1694, shortly after the accession of the
Protestant William of Orange to the throne of
England as William III, the narrative concerns the
Catholic Jacobite draughtsman Mr. Neville, who
is commissioned by Mrs. Herbert, the mistress of
Compton Anstey, to create 12 ink drawings of her
country house and estate while her husband is absent
on business. The contractual terms set by Neville
include strict rules about access to the views he will
draw and sexual liaisons with Mrs. Herbert as an
element of the fee.
Political and religious animosity is engendered
between Neville and Mrs. Herberts son-in-law, Mr.
Talmann, a German Protestant who has designs on
Compton Anstey, though his wife is childless and
he has no heir. After Neville has completed six of
the pictures, Mrs. Talmann confronts him with the
allegation that they contain evidence of the death
of her father, and could be taken to suggest that he
was an accessory to murder. She offers Neville her
protection through a parallel contract to that of her
mother in which he will provide her with his sexual
When the drawings are completed, Neville leaves
and Mr. Herberts body is found in the lake. The Estate
Manager, Mr. Noyes, blackmails Mrs. Herbert because
of the contract (to which he was a witness), and the
drawings are sold to Mr. Talmann in order to pay
Noyes off. Neville returns to Compton Anstey with the
desire to produce a thirteenth drawingof the area
where Mr. Herberts body was foundand in agreeing
Mrs. Herbert offers him a final, non-contractual
liaison. It is then revealed to Neville that he has been
the victim of an elaborate stratagem of both Mrs.
Herbert and her daughter to provide them with heirs.
That night, Neville is blinded and killed by Noyes,
Talmann, and an accomplice, and the drawings burnt.
It is a visually rich film with a sophisticated and
highly literate screenplay that bristles with religious,
political and sexual allusions. At once an erotic
country-house murder mystery and historical drama,
arguably it allegorically refers to the artist who blindly
records but fails to comprehend. Appendix 4 of Peter
Greenaways original proposal to the BFI outlines his
initial ideas for the music for the film:

The International Film Music Society 2011.

Enclosed in the last see-through envelope in this folder

is a 45 rpm disc of a transfigured Mozart theme by
Michael Nyman (Side A).
A music scheme being considered is to take twelve
such original music themes by Purcell, Handel (to keep
it Englishif naturalised English) Lully or (to cheat
a little on dates) Bach and Mozart, and transfigure
them for The Draughtsmans Contractone theme
for each drawing.
And use this presently recorded transfigured
Mozart (remixed perhaps to minimise the horn) as
an overal [sic] signaturefor titles and credits and as
ironic accompaniment for the long montage sequence
called Reconnaissance in the plan of the film.17

That a director should have such clearly formulated

ideas for the music at this early stage of a films
development (while still pitching for finance) is
relatively unusual. Equally, his conception of the
function and character of the music scheme (itself
a revealing expression) was remarkably elaborate.
Nymans transfiguration of Mozart in his In Re
Don Giovanni (1977), a concert piece that draws on
the first section of Leporellos Act 1 Catalogue
aria Madamina, il catalogo questo, had obvious
intertextual resonances with the draughtsmans
sexual liaisons with mother and daughter.18 More
importantly, perhaps, it illustrated the malleability
of Nymans music, which could offer Greenaway
an expressive language that did not rely on close
synchronization to image, and from which different
length sequences could be extracted without adversely
affecting their musical coherence. While the stylistic
anachronism between the late-seventeenth-century
narrative and late-eighteenth-century score (albeit
reconfigured through the lens of the late twentieth
century) apparently caused the Mozart to be
rejected in favor of earlier (and English) sources,
the underlying principle of art-music ground basses
transformed by minimalist techniques became the
guiding principle.
In an interview with Christopher Fox, Nyman
outlined the process of composition of the score:
FOX: Ive heard you say in interview that you wrote
twice as much music as anybody else would have
written for the film.
17 British Film Institute, The Draughtsmans Contract (ND) http://www.bfi. greenaway/_dvd_bonus/
index.php?theme=2&type=Original%20Proposal&title=draughtsman [4
June 2009].
18 In a Guardian interview, Nyman comments that Greenaway heard In
Re Don Giovanni at a concert in 1977 and approached Nyman to work on
his films as a result; The Draughtsmans Contract is mentioned explicitly in
this regard. The Draughtsmans Contract, dir. Peter Greenaway (British Film
Institute, 1982).

Cooper AND SAPIRO 163

NYMAN: Yes, but also a long time before the film was
made So the music was sitting around in a state of
75% completion for a year or so before he [Greenaway]
started shooting []
As the film starts, the first exterior that you see
is the draughtsmans assistant pushing sheep around,
so I thought for the music wed have the most basic
version of this ground bass that wasnt a real ground
bass that I took from King Arthur or something. But in
the meantime Peter had listened to the music not as a
dictator of structure but just as a punter. He listened
to the piece that we know as Chasing Sheep is Best
Left to Shepherds, which is the most evolved of the six
versions of this particular ground bass, and said, This
would be an amazing opening for a film. We have the
interior scene with the cocktail party and the singing,
with the counter-tenor singing a Purcell-corrupted
song, corrupted by me, and then all Peters filmmaking
instincts suddenly came into play, you come out in the
light and you whack the audience on the head with the
most evolved version of the music for the first drawing.
So structure goes completely out of the window in
terms of the way the music is used and the kind of
perception in the film.19

In Nymans approach in his work with Greenaway,

connotative value is attached to large musical
units rather than to discrete localized signifying
gestures.20 While it may be possible to read particular
iconic connections between music and images, any
apparent close synchronization that emerges is
largely fortuitous or the design of the director. So,
for example, while an entire cue such as Chasing
Sheep is Best Left to Shepherds may suggest swagger,
arrogance, and pride in its organization of musical
material, Nyman was not in a position to create any
intentional localized relationships between score and
film because of his collaborative working method
with Greenaway. Musical material was cut to length
in the edit suite, and thus there was no necessity to
write cues to the exactitude of duration conventionally
required by mainstream practice (as long as there was
enough music in the first place). Spotting sessions
would have been superfluous (and in conversation,
Nyman has confirmed that indeed these did not take
place), and timing sheets were therefore not generated.
Arguably Nymans role in the production process
was similar to that of an art-music composer working
to a conventional commission, and his comment
that the majority of the score was completed before
19 Cooper et al., CineMusic?, 171-73.
20 Umberto Eco, A Theory of Semiotics (Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 1976), 11.

The International Film Music Society 2011.

shooting commenced reveals how different the

approach was to that of mainstream film production,
where the composer still tends to have relatively
little input before post-production. In an interview
conducted with Nyman by Ann Perego Richards as
part of an undergraduate music project at Kingston
Polytechnic in the mid 1980s, he discussed both his
overall approach and his relationship with Greenaway:
So if he gives me a basic outline of the film, I then go
awaywrite the music according to that plan, allowing
myself to be a composer rather than a film composer,
so I have within the limits of the structure that hes
[Greenaway] set down and the sort of general overall
function of the music. I just go away and write music as
though [Id] actually made those decisions to use that
particular material, which of course I didnt. You see,
since Im writing the music before hes shot the film
while hes shooting the film, while hes editing the film
independent of all these activities, the relationship is
distant, because again what happens in a normal film
is that the director has completed the film, he knows
more or less precisely where he wants the music, and
what kind of music he wants, therefore he comes to
me and says cue one goes from here to here, so many
seconds, has to do such. So with Peter were working
in reverse order, since he hasnt shot the film he cant
give instructions as to (a) the length of the material
and (b) the mood, character qualities or whatever. So I
just literally sat down with these instructions, with the
material Id selectedand wrote music, which satisfied
me as a composer and which I would then give to Peter
and he would use as a film-maker.21

Nymans account outlines some significant departures

from mainstream scoring processes, more detail on
which can be indentified through evidence drawn
from the source materials in the Michael Nyman
Archive as we discuss in the following section.

Evidence for the Process within the Michael

Nyman Archive
The Michael Nyman Archive includes six tapes relating
to The Draughtsmans Contract: five 24-track, two-inch
analog reels recorded for the film in February 1982 (see
Table 3, below), and a 32-track DASH digital reel dated
April 1992, ten years after the films release, which
was recorded for the soundtrack album. Table 3 lists
the information contained on the tape boxes and the
associated tracksheets, and that is presented through
spoken cue announcements on the tapes.
21 Appendix 2 of Ann Perego Richards, A Conceited View: A Study of The
Draughtsmans Contract, Year 3 Interdisciplinary Perspectives of Music, BA
Music Education, Kingston Polytechnic, n.d [c. 1984]. A copy of Richardss
project is included within the Nyman archive.


Table 3: The Five Analog Multitrack Tapes and their Contents

Tape no.

Reel no.


Titles on




1&2, 3&5

Drawing 1 Day 1/2

Drawing 1 Day 3
Drawing 1 Day 4 on front of
reel. Edited out.
Drawing 1 Day 5
3'28" 1400 1.50
False start 1465
Drawing 2 Day 1
5'25" 2190 1.10
Drawing 2 Day 2
Drawing 2 Day 3/4
Drawing 3 Day 1/2
Drawing 3 Day 3
Drawing 3 Day 7
Drawing 3 Day 8



The International Film Music Society 2011.

Drawing 5,
Return of

Drawing 5 Day 1
2:58 Drawing 5 Day 2
4:08 Return of Neville
Part 1 1840 Part 2 2350
Drawing 6 Day 1
3167-3663 .55
Drawing 6 Day 2
3505 1.06
Drawing 6 day 4
3870 5
Drawing 5 Day 4
2.40 spare tape [?] end of reel

Cue announcements

Drawing 1 Day 4

Drawing 1 Day 5

Drawing 2 Day 1
Drawing 2 Day 2
Drawing 2 Day 3
Drawing 3 Day 1
Drawing 3 Day 3
Drawing 3 Day 7
Drawing 3 Day 8

The Return of Neville

Drawing 6 Day 1

Drawing 6 Day 4

Drawing 5 Day 4

Cooper AND SAPIRO 165




Death of Herbert
A1 B1 B2 A2 C
0000 0188 640 1115 1247

Queen of the

[Drawing 3]
Day 3




Drawing 6

Death of

In Table 4 the sources of Nymans transformations of

music, and in particular the ground basses by Purcell
and Croft, are cross-referenced with the track titles
from the soundtrack recording and the cue titles on
tape and in the documentation.
Nyman has described how the individual drawings
each had an associated ground bass and that, as a
structural conceit, they were originally intended
to appear in increasingly complex versions which
mirrored the draughtsmans artistic process and
progress. In a program note for a concert performance
of the score at St. Pauls Church, Hammersmith, in
February 1983, he states that:
The initial plan for the score was to assign a different
ground bass to each of two sets of six drawings
(to help with the reading of each of Nevilles
designated viewpoints) and allows each piece to
grow and develop as each drawing progressed over
the six days. This fine plan was shot to pieces by the
The International Film Music Society 2011.

Queen of the Night

2950 end

The Death of Herbert

. . . part B
. . . B2
. . . A2
Queen of the Night

Drawing 6 Day 5
0000 1100 1600
Queen of the Night Vocal
Part 1
+ Part 2
2500 + Drawing 4 2nd set
The other song
A more positive, er, track list
for, er, Drawing 5 6 [sic]

Drawing 6 Day 5

Death of Neville
6:08 8:42

Part 1 [sic]
Section C [sic]
Part C

Queen of the Night Mistakes Version

practicalities of film length, the editing process and

the invariable problems of balancing the demands
of dialogue, sound effects and music: so that some
of the music prepared was not composed, some
composed and not recorded, some recorded and not
used, some used only in part.22

The essence of the musical scheme Nyman describes

here matches that which Greenaway included in his
original proposal to the BFI (see above), yet it was
Greenaway who decided to dissolve this strategy
once filming was complete and he came to combine
Nymans music with the images. In an interview with
Alan Woods, Greenaway says that:

22 Michael Nyman, The English Premiere of the Complete Score of Michael

Nymans Soundtrack for Peter Greenaways The Draughtsmans Contract
Performed by the Michael Nyman Band. Unpublished document housed in
the Michael Nyman Archive, University of Leeds (1983), 4.


Table 4: Cues in The Draughtsmans Contract and their Sources

Nyman cue title

Soundtrack title


Queen of the Night

Queen of the Night

Purcell, So when the glittring Queen of

Night, The Yorkshire Feast Song

Drawing 1

Chasing Sheep is Best Left

to Shepherds

Purcell, King Arthur, Act III scene 2, Prelude

Drawing 3

The Disposition of the


Purcell, Secular Song, Z413, She loves and

she confesses too

Drawing 5

An Eye for Optical Theory

Ground C minor (D221) (attr. William


Drawing 6

The Garden is Become a

Robe Room

Purcell, Here the deities approve Welcome

to all the Pleasures (Ode)/E minor Ground,
Henry Playford: Musicks Handmaid (Second

Death of Herbert,
Section C

A Watery Death (second

part, from 1' 45")first
part of A Watery Death is
Return of Neville

Purcell, Chaconne in G minor for keyboard

ZT680 (arrangement of the Curtain Tune
on a Ground from Timon of Athens, Z632)

Death of Neville

Bravura in the Face of


The Plaint, The Fairy Queen, Act V

[I]n the early days with Michael [Nyman]we tried

to find an equivalence of image and music to move23
towards a useful collaborationnot just a musicservicing relationshipso that music was essentially
structural. I think The Draughtsmans Contract proves
the potentiality of that, the music and the images are
often equally complementary.24

Greenaways primary concern was clearly that the

music and images would complement each other,
and it would seem that this aim overrode any other
scheme by which the music had been written. It is
possible that he felt a strict matching of ever-more
progressive cues, and drawings would, paradoxically,
relegate the score to a mere supporting role
(something he was clearly keen to avoid), though since
Greenaway does not elucidate further on the score
to Draughtsman, this is only supposition. Table 5 lists
the basic cues in the order they appear in the film,
and demonstrates how the original scheme was shot
23 For further details regarding the sources for Nymans score see ap Sin,
The Music of Michael Nyman, 85.
24 Alan Woods, Being Naked, Playing Dead (Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 1996), 275.

The International Film Music Society 2011.

to pieces in the released version of the film. In the

interview conducted by Richards, Nyman discusses
one of the specific omissions from the score and the
fortuitous nature of the result:
[I]n the very final sequence in the garden at night, the
death, the murder, you hear the beginning of The
Death of Neville and that piece was actually designed
to last the whole length of that sequence. Now since
I wrote it before hed shot that sequence or edited
that sequence, the musical changes that occur in that
piecewere decisions Id made independently of the
film, but I assumed that this whole piece of music
would go through it. And it was found that the music
was sort of too heavy and too portentous and took
away from the dialogue
So you hear only the book ends and so the
interesting thing to me is that since it was composed
as a continuous piece of music. You know the second
section arose because Id written the first, and the third
section because Id composed the second and in fact
I couldnt have the third section, which is the section
with the burning of the drawings, I couldnt have
written that unless Id written the beginning. So it was
useful to me, and essential to me as a composer rather
than a film composer, to write the piece continuously.
And it so happened that this great sudden change
that I brought into the music at the beginning of the

Cooper AND SAPIRO 167

third section, where the ground bass becomes the

melody and its harmonized differently and you get the
harpsichord. And Peter heard that harpsichord music
and thought it would be ideal for the fire. And looking
at it you think God, how did the composer and the
film-maker come up with this brilliant combination
of visual and musical imagery? Where I have to say
we didnt. It was pure luck that that harpsichord was


Drawing 1


Drawing 6


Death of Neville Section B (sax)


Drawing 3


Drawing 6


Death of Herbert Section A (twice)

Since the musical cues for The Draughtsmans Contract

were composed neither to fit a tightly defined timing
scheme, nor a final set of visual images, there are
many such fortuitous combinations that can be found
in this film and throughout the GreenawayNyman


Death of Herbert Section C


Death of Neville (sax)


Return of Neville


Death of Neville


Drawing 1 (closing credits)

Table 5: Cues Used in A Draughtsmans

Contract in Running Order.
Italics delineate the various cycles or partial cycles of cues.


Queen of the Night

Drawing 1

Drawing 2

Drawing 3

Queen of the Night with Mistakes

Drawing 5

Drawing 6

Drawing 1

Drawing 2


Drawing 3


Drawing 5


Drawing 6


Drawing 1


Drawing 2


Drawing 3


Drawing 1


Drawing 5


Drawing 6


Drawing 1


Drawing 6

25 Richards, A Conceited View, Appendix 2.

The International Film Music Society 2011.

Given Nyman and Greenaways unusual working

relationship, and the truncation of the film to less
than half its original planned length, it is perhaps
unsurprising that material was recorded and included
in the tapes listed above but not used in the final
cut of the film. Attention has already been drawn to
the truncation of the cue The Death of Neville, a
complete version of which appears on the soundtrack
album. There are, however, several other examples of
sections of cues that were recorded but neither dubbed
onto the film nor issued on the soundtrack album.
Perhaps the most striking of these is found in the B
section of The Death of Herbert, whose slurred
couplets have a rather different musical feel to much
of the rest of the score (see Example 1, below, for the
fundamental melodic material underlying the music).
It is arguable that the multitrack tapes held in
the Nyman Archive constitute rather more than the
simple realization of a score to be mixed down to
a set of film stereo (left-centre-right) music tracks.
They can also be considered as holding a role that is
equivalent to the audio toolkits that Trevor Jones
employed as a resource for the director, allowing
the combination of individual tracks at will.26 Thus
we find that the solo soprano saxophone track from
the cue Death of Neville (played by John Harle)
is extracted and used to form the twenty-third and
twenty-eighth cues. Equally, an ingredient that is
missing from all the mixes is the drum machine
rhythm that is recorded on track 1 and underpins all
the multitrack recordings. Arguably the rhythmic edge
of the music results from the presence and absence of
this rhythmic component (which the performers used
as both click and guide track).
26 For further insight into the use of toolkits in scores by Trevor Jones, see
Authors chapter in Cooper et al., CineMusic?, 17-32.


Example 1: The Death of Herbert Section B, Soprano Saxophone Melody

As will have become apparent, the creative approach
taken by Nyman and Greenaway was fundamentally
different from that of mainstream practice, and this
is reflected in the source materials that are held in
the archive. Although there were arguably three
phases in the scores development (phase 2 from the
above model is omitted owing to the nature of the
Nyman/Greenaway working relationship and the
relative independence of the creation of the music
and the visual film), there are two focal points. In
pre-production Nyman was given very considerable
freedom to act as a composer rather than as a
film composer (using his own terms) through his
complete independence from the visual component,

and in post-production Greenaway took the lead,

selecting and reordering the elements (see Table 6).
Nyman clearly enjoyed his artistic relationship with
Greenaway, as indicated by the comments cited at
the beginning of this article, and he went on to score
a sequence of further films for him. However, their
partnership broke down after Prosperos Books partly,
perhaps, as a result of the artistic autonomy of the two
individuals. Nyman remarks that:
[W]hen I saw the film [Prosperos Books] I realised that
all the artistic agreements that we had made had gone
by the board. Again he perceived the music differently
because the film had changed, and my beautifully
crafted soundtrack was hedged around with some
rather juvenile student electronics that no-one had

Table 6: Adaptation of the Source-Chain Model to Nyman and Greenaways Approach

in The Draughtsmans Contract


Film-scoring process
(Michael Nyman: The
Draughtsmans Contract)

Source material

Source type

Meeting filmmaker

Shooting script



Budgets and schedules






Short scores







Feedback from Greenaway on

final film shape



Takes (multitrack)
Take cue sheets




Theatrical release

Video and audio

The International Film Music Society 2011.

Cooper AND SAPIRO 169

warned me about. Its kind of strange, theres a large

element of the unknownyou present the score to the
director, you dont know where its going to appear,
how its going to appear, what the mix is going to
be likebut if theres an added element that is a lot
closer to music than to sound effects, you might think
that the director would actually have the consideration
to let the composer know, especially a director who
had been a personal friend for thirty years.27

While it is clear that in some regards the

unconventional working patterns of Nyman and
Greenaway enabled the composer to work in
precisely the same way [he does] when writing
[his] concert music, the evidence drawn from the
session recordings and other documentation for The
Draughtsmans Contract show that, once recording
was finished, Nyman was left with even less control
over the use of his material than a composer working
within the mainstream scoring process.28 The above
quote reinforces this seemingly paradoxical situation,
whereby increased autonomy at the outset leads to
near total musical impotence when the score and
images are finally combined.
We believe that the Michael Nyman Archive
provides a valuable resource for tracing and evaluating
further the interactions between the composer and
the directors he has worked with, both within nonmainstream and mainstream cinematic contexts, and
that film-score sources such as those employed in this
study help to elucidate the ways in which the place
of music changes and develops through the entire
production process.

27 Cooper et al., CineMusic?, 174-75.

28 Nyman, The English Premiere, 4.

The International Film Music Society 2011.

ap Sin, Pwyll. 2007. The music of Michael Nyman: Texts, contexts and intertexts. Farnham: Ashgate.
British Film Institute. n.d. The Draughtsmans Contract.
php?theme=2&type=Original%20Proposal&title=draughtsman> [4 June 2009].
Burnand, David. 2006. Scoring This Filthy Earth. In European film music, ed. David Burnand and Miguel Mera.
Aldershot: Ashgate, 178-90.
Cooper, David. 2009. Trevor Joness score for In the Name of the Father. In The Ashgate research companion to
popular musicology, ed. Derek B. Scott. Farnham: Ashgate, 29-42.
Cooper, David, Christopher Fox, and Ian Sapiro, eds. 2008. CineMusic? Constructing the film score. Newcastle:
Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Eco, Umberto. 1976. A theory of semiotics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Greenaway, Peter, dir. 1982. The Draughtsmans Contract. British Film Institute.
Karlin, Fred and Rayburn Wright. 1990. On the track. New York: Schirmer Books.
Mera, Miguel. 2007. Mychael Dannas The Ice Storm: A film score guide. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.
Nyman, Michael. 1974. Experimental music: Cage and beyond, 1st edn. London: Studio Vista.
. 1982. Session recordings from The Draughtsmans Contract. Michael Nyman Archive, University of
. 1983. The English premiere of the complete score of Michael Nymans soundtrack for Peter
Greenaways The Draughtsmans Contract performed by the Michael Nyman Band. Unpublished
document housed in the Michael Nyman Archive, University of Leeds.
. 1999. Experimental music: Cage and beyond, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Richards, Ann Perego. n.d [c. 1984]. A conceited view: A study of The Draughtsmans Contract. Unpublished
dissertation, Kingston Polytechnic.
Somfai, Lszl. 1996. Bla Bartk: Composition, concepts, and autograph sources. Berkeley and Los Angeles:
University of California Press.
Woods, Alan. 1996. Being naked, playing dead: The art of Peter Greenaway. Manchester: Manchester University

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.