David Lowe (television and radio composer)
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11 April 1959 |
Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, England
David Lowe (born 11 April 1959) is an English composer and music producer. His work comprises primarily of music for television, radio, commercials and idents. David Lowe is probably best known for his extensive work on theme tunes for bulletins and programmes for BBC News.
Early life and career
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Lowe has never received any formal musical education, and began his early career in broadcasting. During his last years at Riland Bedford (now Plantsbrook School) in Sutton Coldfield, he started part-time work at BBC Radio Birmingham (now BBC WM). Based at the former Pebble Mill Studios, he developed a strong interest in sound production, and was very keen to work full-time for the BBC. He was unsuccessful at getting a position however, and continued freelancing at BBC WM until 1981 when he attained a permanent post as a location sound recordist, with Magpie Film Productions.
During this time he was also very interested in the relatively new area of electronic music and synthesizers, and had previously dabbled in songwriting with friends from school. He borrowed a Crumar Trilogy synthesizer off a friend, and created his first multitrack compositions using two domestic cassette decks. He was finally persuaded, by the same friend, to buy one of the first affordable polyphonic synthesizers a Roland Juno 6. which he paid for by the sale of the ring from his failed engagement. He was instantly hooked, and from then music became his passion.
He formed a band with Samantha Meah called the Cool Fish, which found a reasonable amount of success, supporting Ruby Turner, The Fine Young Cannibals and appearing on Central Television. However Lowe was more interested in writing and studio production rather than live performance, and the band did not continue. His first opportunity to write for television came through a chance meeting with a graphic designer at BBC Pebble Mill, which led to Lowe's first TV commission for Midlands Today. Lowe saw this as the opportunity to fulfill both his passions of working in broadcasting, and writing music, and from then worked on furthering his career as a Television Composer.
David Lowe is a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. in 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Staffordshire University.
Body of work
Albums and Singles
In 1997, Lowe released his debut album, Dreamcatcher. He performed a live mix that year at the first Thames River Festival, which accompanied a record breaking tightrope walk across the river.
His single "Would You...?" under the name Touch and Go was a top 3 hit in the UK in 1998 and a hit in the rest of Europe in early 1999. The album I've Noticed You Around spawned more hit singles in Eastern Europe and Russia. "Straight...to Number One" was chosen by Apple to launch the iTunes site in the USA, where every track on the album has been used in films, television and/or commercials.
In 1999, Lowe created probably his most famous compositions, the current BBC News themes. Whilst previous themes had been orchestral, these new themes made extensive use of the 'pips' that are used on the hour on BBC Radio stations, along with more electric sounds. Since 1999 his themes have been remixed numerous times for BBC News in the UK as well as the international channel, BBC World News. Two CDs of Lowe's music have been released by the BBC. BBC World: The Music, released in 2000 or 2001, is a compilation of some of Lowe's work for BBC World, made available after significant demand from viewers.
David Lowe's first television composition was the 1983 title music for BBC Midlands Today, followed in 1988 by BBC Wales Today and he went back to BBC Birmingham and Midlands Today again in 1992, creating title music for both Midlands Today and Pebble Mill.
His work on other British television programmes includes The One Show, Countryfile, Panorama, Cash in the Attic, Wildlife on One and The Really Wild Show (all on BBC One), Grand Designs on Channel 4, and the Channel 5 motoring programme Fifth Gear. He has also created musical identities for BBC Worldwide, BBC Entertainment, the Al Arabiya Channel and Abu Dhabi TV in the Middle East, NDTV in India, TV2 in Norway, and in 2013 for CCTV 1 China. For radio he produced the current identity for the BBC World Service, and for BBC Arabic Radio.
Through his website, Lowe has released compilations of some of his television soundtracks. TV Chill is a mix from a variety of different programmes, whilst Grand Designs features a full length arrangement of the main theme, and other music from the Channel 4 series. Both were produced after interest from viewers, including a request from one to have the Grand Designs music played at her wedding.
Wild Caribbean features the best of Lowe's music from the BBC2 series of the same name, and remixes of his Touch and Go tracks "So Hot" and "Life's a Beach".
Lowe was invited by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters to compose the theme for the 50th Ivor Novello Awards ceremony in 2005. In 2006 he was commissioned to write the music for the BAFTA Film and Television Awards and for the BBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics.
Festivals and Events
He has performed at several WOMAD festivals worldwide. In 2004, he was commissioned to provide a music soundscape for The Tropical Biome at the Eden Project, which was performed at WOMAD Reading in 2005. Reinforced with several new songs, the material has been reworked to form his second Dreamcatcher album, What...is in Between?, released on Oval Records in October 2006. Featured vocalists are poet and novelist Benjamin Zephaniah and Japanese artist and composer Mieko Shimizu, while Lowe himself sings on "Still The Greatest."
Lowe also co-produced an album for poet Roger McGough. Between excerpts of McGough's live performance, he set some of the poetry to music.