It was our pleasure to welcome synthpop pioneer, Martyn Ware, to BIMM Brighton for a special Q&A masterclass recently. The event was hosted by BIMM Brighton’s Head of Songwriting, Jake Shillingford and was both inspirational and insightful.
The Sheffield-born musician is synonymous with British electronic music and is widely regarded as one of the genre’s early innovators. His work as a founding member of The Human League, one of the 80’s most influential and commercially successful bands, has transcended decades.
It was in fact David Bowie who famously called the band’s earlier and highly experimental track ‘Being Boiled’, a song that Martyn co-wrote, the future pop music – he wasn’t wrong.
After leaving the Human League in 1980, Martyn went on to form another highly successful group, Heaven 17. The group announced their arrival with the iconic Penthouse and Pavement album before later going on to pen one of the biggest tracks of the decade – ‘Temptation’.
As a record producer, Martyn has had hits with a number of international superstars, helping to revitalise Tina Turner’s career in 1983 with “Let’s Stay Together”, Terence Trent D’Arby’s solo debut, Introducing the Hardline According to… , Chaka Khan, Erasure and Marc Almond.
His work, both behind the mixing desk and as an artist, has seen him sell an impressive 50 million records worldwide. So, who better to inspire our BIMM Brighton students? And inspire he did.
During the session, Martyn spoke at length about his career and the synthesiser techniques used by The Human League to produce their seminal album, Travelogue, and Heaven 17’s Penthouse and Pavement. He went on to discuss his groundbreaking work in immersive soundscaping.
Martyn gave our students some fantastic advice. Speaking after the event, he said:
“It was a great honour to welcome Martyn Ware to BIMM Brighton,” added Jake – a musician in his own right with Britpop outfit, My Life Story who are about to release a new album and go on a UK tour.
“A history of his life, through the synthesisers he acquired through the years of The Human League and Heaven 17, gave students an insight into the works of this maverick composer in sonics and immersive deign,” he continued.
Present in the audience was BA1 Songwriting student, Harvey Dent, who said: “The masterclass was invaluable in terms of observing an example of how to adapt your skills to make yourself better suited to an ever-changing music industry. I particularly enjoyed the part of the class that focused on soundscapes as it began to treat music and sound as an art form, instead of a business.”
Echoing his comments was Rob Clarke, a BA3 Guitar student, who called the masterclass: “A valuable insight into just how much can be done with sound and how limitless the possibilities are.
It was great to welcome an artist of Martyn’s standing to BIMM Brighton, and we thank him for taking the time to talk to our students
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