Rohan Stevenson is an award winning composer best known for his work on the hugely successful BBC TV series Merlin.
Rohan Stevenson is an award winning composer best known for his work on the hugely successful BBC TV series Merlin and Casualty 1900s (London Hospital).
He studied music composition at the University of Western Australia with former student of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Roger Smalley, and is an alumni of the National Film and Television School.
The main feature of his work is the search for distinctive and fresh melodic and thematic ideas that can develop and morph to tell a story, or carry the ear through time. It doesn’t matter if it is for film or the concert hall, the aim is always for a distinctive and immediately understood idea.
Some opportunities to explore thematic distinctiveness have come from his work for TV. For example, you can hear it in this cue from the award winning BBC series Casualty 1900s, or even from Merlin, where the Gwen Arthur theme became hugely popular. But it isn’t always a ‘tune’ that he seeks – sometimes it is a distinctive idea, texture, or hook. Listen to this cue called Dean’s Treatment, where a repeated phrase from an ethnic flute creates a feeling of isolation and anguish in a period drama, supporting a story about a doctor who becomes drug addicted.
Another major feature of his work is his command of orchestral forces. Having been a professional clarinet player and classically trained he always seeks to build on that training with colourful and exciting orchestral writing that draws upon that experience. Here, in a cue from BBC’s Atlantis, a dramatic race against time to escape Hades provided a perfect opportunity to exploit his orchestral and cinematic proclivities, but also draw on his experience performing ethnic instruments to give a flavour of the mythical world in which the action was set. A thoroughly recommended listen.
It was this side of his writing that drew renowned sound designer and electronic music composer and remixer Darren Leigh Purkiss (aka Audio Android) to collaborate on a number of projects. One such collaboration lead to a track being licensed to Sony for the cinematic story trailer for the Nathan Drake Unchartered game series. Other collaborations lead to licenses for a variety of trailers; The Quiet Ones and The Pact 2 for example. The trailer for The Legend of Hercules uses a very popular track Rebel Hell, and another one, Worth Fighting For, used in a trailer for the Viking series, has also proven to be very popular.
Creating distinctive music for Paul Merton’s highly acclaimed travel series Paul Merton in China provided another great opportunity. The title music and incidental music provided a chance to develop an unconventional and quirky sound world that matched Paul’s ‘Englishman abroad’ discomfort and bemusement. The music had to match the characteristics of the two cultures that fit with Paul’s distinctive personality as he puzzled over the bizarre things he encountered.
The series was a huge success and lead to a subsequent series Paul Merton in India where similar techniques were used. Check out the title theme from that series, which was done by retuning a completely unrelated phrase from an original location recording in India – with pretty…shall we say ‘distinctive’ results.