Composed By: Sarah Class
Distributed by: Silva Screen Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In January 2013, Africa, a television series co-produced by the BBC Natural History Unit and the Discovery Channel, aired in the United States on the Discovery Channel as a seven-part series. Focusing on the wildlife and the habitats of Africa, the series was received with great acclaim. On April 23, 2013, Silva Screen Records released the soundtrack for the series.
The musical score of Africa was composed by British composer Sarah Class. As a youth, Class grew up on the Isle of Wright, an area of lush woodlands, rolling hills and seascapes. When interests in music developed at a very young age, it was no surprise that inspiration would be found amongst nature. She has toured as a jazz pianist and vocalist and created compositions for other media, but is best known for the musical scores she has composed for big name natural history series like Deep Trouble, The Greatest Show on Earth and The State of the Planet.
The musical score of the television series, performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra, features 26 tracks of beautiful and often hypnotic music. Very early, it was obvious to me that Class composed the music while watching each segment of the series, customizing the music to enhance the visuals on the screen. The music speaks of the beauty of the African habitats and the majesty of its wildlife. Often times, the music was composed to match the movements of the wildlife, like in Giraffe vs. Giraffe, where we hear the sounds of an old school Mexican standoff, or the rumblings of percussion heard in Bull Elephant Fight.
While I found the entire album to be quite an enjoyable experience, I was disappointed to discover that the music was mostly orchestral in nature, often times displaying a Latin flare. Since the series is set in Africa, I expected to hear more of the native culture’s sounds, featuring thumb pianos, harps, zeze and other exotic instruments found in the region. Despite this disappointment, I couldn’t help but find the music quite beautiful and felt inspired to see how much it enhances the television series. The Africa Soundtrack is a definite must-listen for any fan of beautifully elaborate storytelling composition.