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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Doing It Right the Classical Way: Magnus Brody DJs to the Tunes of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Beyond, at Highlands – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

Hearing about a DJ doing classical repertoire might make you go “What? Come again?” 
Magnus Brody has a steady DJ gig at the Highlands sim doing just that – playing classical music. Stareyes Galaxy met with him one afternoon, asking the same question, and a few more besides.

I had seen Magnus do his classical gig a few times, once with a movie theme. While the audience at these gigs was not abundant, it was all the more enthusiastic.  I arranged an interview with him, to see what it was about, and met him at his residence, the Brody Castle, at the Highlands sim that also boasts the Loch Ness Inn, a famous Scottish club run by Lauraclaire Benelli.

Magnus Brody in real life (RL) was a part-time community radio broadcaster since 1990 in London, U. K. In 2001 he moved to Scotland, and later joined Second Life © (SL) when it was still a budding phenomenon.

Interview with Magnus Brody

SLE: What made you get online to do a “Classical DJ” gig in Second Life?

Magnus Brody: I actually heard about SL in 2004, but could not use it at that time.  In London I had broadband, but in the Highlands it was back to dial-up... We got broadband in the Highlands in my village in 2006, and I joined SL about a month later in September. What I wanted was a more cosmopolitan experience, like in London, whereas the locals in the Highlands were nothing like the mix of ethnicities and nationalities.

SLE: Was your goal all along to do something with music, once you joined?

Magnus Brody: Soon as I got in, my very closest friends who had moved away from London same time as me, I got them in here too and we made our own little pub. SL allowed us to meet up again much like we did most evenings in London. We used to hang out in a pub called O'Neill's in Chelsea, where we all lived at the time, we made our own O'Neill's on SL – It’s still there.

SLE: How about your beginnings as a DJ?

Magnus Brody: Well, that goes back to my friends not coming into SL as often as me, so I met this girl who joined the same time as me, about a week before and we hit it off and went exploring together.  We used to go to nightclubs and I'd have the odd grumble about the awful DJs.

SLE: Yes, a common grumble that is!

Magnus Brody: It wasn't really until I discovered [Highlands sim] and became involved in managing the place, by which time we had voice and my voice was often remarked upon as good and I was encouraged to start a classical show, about 3 years ago.
SLE: So, the classical wasn't your initiative?

Magnus Brody: I used to stand in sometimes when our evening DJs were no show, but then Laura persuaded me to do a regular 3 hours every Tuesday, so I've been doing that now for about a year. She was like: “Why don't you think of doing a show here” and I said – “OK, classical!” Laura was delighted because that's what she wanted.  In all of SL I don't think there is another classical presenter who is actually experienced in RL broadcasting on the radio.

Magnus then told of an earlier experience announcing the pieces played on piano by Zacch Cale. Zacch has later made regular events as a singer as well. “He sung modern stuff and ballads and some jazz and we all encouraged him so much he went on to do several shows a week until his RLwork became too busy. It was in the castle I had here before and I only did it once a month as an event, but it brought in a few folks who loved the idea of a classical ball in a castle.”

SLE: "Classical" comes in many varieties. Which composers and what type of music do you think goes over best in a Classical DJ event?

Magnus Brody: Well, that's the great thing, there's such a range. I keep an eye on the period of music, so tend to stick to a 50 years max difference to when the pieces were written, when I play them together. We call all older music classical, but in fact the classical period was only about 50 years, the different period of music are actually called different things like baroque, romantic, etc.  - a bit like different time periods or styles of art. “Classical” just became a generic word for everything that wasn't modern. However, there is still lots of music being written and performed right now that conforms greatly to "classical". Great composers were always sponsored, and before the 1930s or thereabouts it was the Church and European Royalty who commissioned composers. They were the only people with the money and the venues! Since then, although some great composers have made a living from composing and performing for the sake of art, the main sponsors of classical style music have been the movie studios! So lots of great music has been written for movie scores, with full or sometimes even double orchestras.

SLE: Which gives you the great excuse to do movie-theme gigs?

Magnus Brody: Yes, re: the movies, but remember that most traditional classical was written for events in the main, a Coronation or King's death for examples. So movies are a theme within themselves, often like the more traditional pieces being in a theme for the event. Music for the Royal Fireworks an example of something being written specifically to match the action within an event, just as a movie score will evoke the screenplay.

SLE: to name a few composers, I would guess Mozart and Beethoven would be more accessible than Shostakovich and Brahms?

Magnus Brody: Difficult to say about accessibility, classical music particularly evokes an emotional response, deep down within, and everyone is different, but it's true to say that some composers are more of an acquired taste and Wagner is a good example.
SLE: You have a good thing going. Is there anything you'd want to change in what you do, and how?

Magnus Brody: change?  Hmmm… yes, some things I want to try... as I did with Zachh, it would be good to get together say a quartet or trio of musicians - piano, violin and cello for example, and as they can now multi-stream, they could perform live and I could do a bit of commentary between.

SLE: Is there anything you might to say - first, to our readers, about the Brody Castle Classical events, and second, as advice to a beginning DJ considering "classical" as their style?

Magnus Brody: Yes, come and experience a beautiful venue, like being invited to a Grand Ball, in a  proper Ballroom in a Castle that's also a home - like being invited to a RL stately home.  It's an occassion to dress up formally and enjoy some music you might never have heard before, broadcast by someone who has built up their knowledge of the music over more than 20 years broadcasting it in RL, and over 40 years loving it too. As for a new DJ: Begin by sticking to what you know and talking about it.  Get yourself two monitors - SL on one, the wonderful world of internet facts on the other, then you really sound expert, or at least don't have a loss in confidence because you suddenly can't remember a date etc. Once your confidence builds, that's when your naturally warm voice will begin to surface, and let you talk directly to people as if it's just you and them next to a big fire!

SLE: Any “insider tips”?

Magnus Brody: You talk to one person, not address a hall or imagined radio audience. Another is to remember you're no train announcer, take on a bit more of a conspiratorial tone, like you're letting folks in on a secret - that makes them almost cliff hang for the next sentence!

SLE: Anything else you might want to say before we wrap this up?

Magnus Brody: Just that music has been an emotional inspiration for all mankind, right back to the first drumbeats banged on with sticks and rocks, it's part of us, part of our very soul - it connects us to our heart quite directly and music should be cherished, as should those with the talent to deliver it well.

SLE: Thank you so much, this was a wonderful interview!

Magnus Brody: Yes, absolutely!


  1. As a fyi there are a number of DJ's in sl who concentrate on classical music - Idyll Quandary, Selador Celladoor, Jaelle Faery, Colin Scientist and the writer. He DJs for two balls a week (at Blue Lagoon and at sl's oldest classical ball room, Ger Y Lli) plus providing two monthly talks on classical music at Rocca Sorrentina and Music Island in addition to 'one offs', usually at one or other of the 18th c rp sims, Until a bout of ill health in early 2014, he also provided a weekly talk on on or another topics of classical music at Thothica University.


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