A Maze in Telly

Some pieces of music are just perfect. You like them from first hearing and you never get fed up of them.

One of the jewels of the BBC’s early forays into daytime television was a quiz game called 4-Square. The quiz was produced by Dave Ross and made first at BBC Pebble Mill and then at the former ATV studios which had become BBC Elstree.

There was an incredible round in the show, where contestants had to get through a maze within 60 seconds by answering Yes/No questions. It’s easier to show you rather than explain it so, thanks to Neil Miles, here’s the maze round in the show:

What made the maze round so special was the incredible combination of isometric computer graphics and the “tension bed” piece of music to accompany them skilfully composed by Ian McKim.

I used to watch 4-Square whenever I could just so I could see the maze round.

Back in 2008 I decided to use the tune as the backing for a notional BBC2 Schools clock, as I thought it would work really well as a “clock tune”.

When I got MuseScore 4, the tune was right at the top of my list of candidates to try and arrange for an orchestra. It was pretty much arranged like an orchestral piece of music in any case, so I thought it might be something I would be able to do.

I was particularly looking forward to hearing what MuseSounds Brass would do with the baroque clarino-style trumpet section at the end.

One of the biggest challenges I faced scoring this tune in MuseScore was how to get the tune to gradually speed up. This is a very important part of the piece, and something I had to do in order for the piece to work.

My first thought was to use an accelerando, but I simply couldn’t get this to work in MuseScore. So what I had to do instead is put tempo indications throughout the tune. This took some time to do and I did it simply by trial and error.

I got my tempo indications a bit wrong; my version of the tune clocks in at 1:05, whereas the real tune is 1:00 exactly. However, I really didn’t dare to speed the tune up any more as it already sounded impossibly fast.

Anyway, I finished the tune and here it is:

I was really happy with how this turned out. I like the arrangement (which is really Ian McKim’s arrangement, so I can’t take any credit for it at all), and I am really happy at the job MuseScore and MuseSounds did at realising it.

I should also say that I think the original version is far better than my version. Mine is just a little bit of fun.

I’ll probably use this for something at some point. I just have to work out what!






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