untold: Britain's slave trade

Britain's slave trade

documentary series

4 x 60 mins

Brook Lapping / Pepper Productions

RIMA nomination 2000

minuets and an African choir

The glories of the Elizabethan and Georgian eras could not have been achieved without the slave trade. This documentary series seeks to uncover the truth behind Britain's slave trade and the legacy it has left behind in Africa, in the West Indies, and in Britain itself.

This series presented Christian another opportunity to make use of his degree in African music and ethnomusicology. He found an amateur Rwandan choir to create a vocal sound that is unmistakeably African.

"Most people think of frenetic drum patterns and joyful Congolese pop when they think of African music," says Christian. "Neither of those sounds would have been appropriate for this reflective series, but African music is incredibly diverse and it was another fantastic opportunity to draw on all those gentle musics and sounds and the amazing choral tradition that is also part of Africa's cultural heritage."

The series leaps from the present back to the origins of the slave trade, crossing three continents. While it was important for the music to give a sense of time and place, it was also vital to give a sense that this both many stories and one story, that we are all bound together in the legacy of what occurred. Orchestral music gives way to African melodies and rhythms sometimes fusing them. The theme tune, in particular aimed to bring all these divergent elements together with the choir at the heart of everything.

narrator: Trevor Philips

crew: writer/producer: Trevor Philips, directors: Gill Barnes, Ninder Belling, composer: Christian Vassie

music to picture - video clips

All film clips, images & music © Drink Me Productions or original owners