LISTEN: World renowned 'boozy pianists' create theme tune from letters that make up Edinburgh Evening News

IT'S a trick of which composers were fond in days gone by, secretly working their names into their music and now, Edinburgh-based virtuoso pianists Worbey and Farrell have adopted the technique to create a unique piece of music using the letters that spell out Edinburgh Evening News.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 4:56 pm

Creating the 'theme tune', an uptempo melody that wouldn't seem out of place at the top of any news programme, is just one of the many ways Stephen Worbey and Kevin Farrell continue their on going mission to share their love of classical music while making it accessible to everyone.

The Marionville-based double-act, who came to Edinburgh 16 years ago and never left, spend most of the year playing the greatest concert halls in the world, but ahead of their annual Usher Hall concert, they took time out of their busy schedule to explain just how they create music from the letters of a name.

"The reason why we did this is that throughout the ages, composers have put their names into pieces of music..." says Kevin, "... sometimes hiding them in a piece of music," adds Stephen.

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Worbey and Farrell have composed a theme for the Edinburgh Evening News
Worbey and Farrell have composed a theme for the Edinburgh Evening News

Explaining the process, Kevin takes over, "Alphabetically, each letter follows the notes on the scale..."

"... So the letters A B C D E F G correspond with the notes A B C D E F G, most people know that," continues Stephen, "but then, of course, you don't get H I J K as musical notes..."

Kevin again, "Instead, you can used the black notes, so H is F sharp, I is G sharp and so on. Then it goes all the way to L and that covers the octave, and then we simply start at the beginning of the scale again, so M N O P goes back to the notes A B C D."

"It's a very simple way of allocating notes to letters really," smiles Stephen.

"Once you've got a chart like that, you can start spelling out names," explains Kevin. "With 'Edinburgh Evening News' we decided to take E D I N and put it into a chord, which we had never done before, while the bass spells out E V E N I N G N E W S."

"Strangely enough, the notes really lent themselves to a news programme-type theme," Stephen adds.

Having now performed in more than 150 countries and enjoyed millions of hits on YouTube, it's not the first time the pair have created an exclusive theme tune, earlier this year they composed a piece for the Edinburgh Dome on George Street, after the bar and restaurant created a cocktail in recognition of their work. A best-seller, they called it The Boozy Pianist.

"An appropriate name," laughs Stephen, "as we always have our best ideas after we've had a few glasses, although we can't actually rehearse or play when we've had a drink."

In their new show, Masquerade, at the Usher Hall on 28 November, the pair return for a third annual evening of music and fun that will feature their own arrangements of some the world’s greatest music. Family favourites such as Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf with their own unique narration, Bach's magnificent Toccata and Fugue in D minor and an exclusive insight into the secret world of the composer will ensure the evening is accessible to everyone.

Stephen says, "We take the music very, very seriously, we don't present it in a dumbed down way at all. It's the way that we present it that is important and so we get people who would never think of coming to a classical concert having a brilliant time at ours."

"There's more stand-up comedy in this show and the first half builds up to the point where we get a member of the audience to shout out their name, then we will quickly write it down and then Stephen and I will go to the piano and play it - we have no idea what it is going to sound like as we improvise the piece around the name. So it's a brand new piece of music and even we don't know what it will sound like until we get to the end of it," says Kevin.

He continues, "For centuries people have admired themselves in mirrors and today people are very much into taking selfies, they want to know what they look like, but what do they sound like? That is something else. When we make a piece of music from their name, well, music is so spiritual... that is something everybody understands when they hear that piece of music."

Wobey and Farrell: Masquerade, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, 28 November, 7.30pm, £17-£27,