Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a groundbreaking 1970’s television soap opera satire full of biting critical commentary on the role of television in society (interestingly for a TV show), the role and perceptions of women and much more. The theme music is actually called “Premier Occasion” and was written in 1965 by British composer Robert Charles Kingston, whose pen name was Barry White (not to be confused with Barry White of disco fame). Kingston wrote music for production libraries so it was probably not written for any specific purpose but was selected by the show’s producers for its syrupy strings and melodramatic mood. I was inspired to arrange this after hearing a great duo version by Ornette Coleman and Charlie Haden on the album Soapsuds.
As working musicians and composers, many of us lead double lives making conventional music that has popular appeal for a living, and more personal, often more experimental music for our own artistic satisfaction. I imagine that the composer of this piece led a similar double life although I have not been able to track down any of the music Kingston wrote under his own name.
Our version of this actually quite beautiful but generic theme begins in a more or less straightforward manner and then shifts into a twisted, distorted, over-the-top version. My aim was to create a satire of bland music; similar to the way the show was a satire of bland soap operas. This arrangement also gives us the opportunity to express our feelings about making a lot of our living playing background music that doesn’t make people think or feel much of anything.
from Tom Swafford's String Power,
released September 10, 2015
composer: B. White, arranger: Tom Swafford
performed by Tom Swafford's String Power