Sometimes a Job Is Child's Play

May 1, 2003 12:00 PM, COMPILED BY SARAH BENZULY

Hothead engineer Roy Harter recently composed and produced all of the original music for the redesign of Noggin, a children's network. Harter selected a group of musicians (including members of Stiff Little Fingers, Polygraph Lounge, Moby and Paul Simon's band) to play the new music according to very strict rules: Only household objects could be used as percussion; no reverb (for intimacy); only one microphone at a time (to encourage spontaneity); all strings had to be under 2 feet tall; and toys were encouraged as instruments.

The result: The Alley Pond Park Ensemble (named after Harter's local playground in Queens, N.Y.). Harter and Hothead director and engineer Jim Stauffer are currently recording all of the Noggin character voices and voice-overs, as well as choosing new character sound effects.

“Laura Corby, Matt Perrault and Doris Grieder [Noggin producers] really gave us free rein,” Harter said. “It was a pleasure working with producers who really trusted our musical instincts. It put all of the musicians at ease and really made the sessions a party.”

From left: Roy Harter, composer /producer/ engineer; Dan Donnelly, digeridoo; Adrian Henke, ukulele; Rob Schwimmer, theremin; and Stiff Little Fingers bassist Ali McMordie. Not pictured: Mark Stewart from Paul Simon's band and Phil Duffy of Skin Flints.

From left: Roy Harter, composer /producer/ engineer; Dan Donnelly, digeridoo; Adrian Henke, ukulele; Rob Schwimmer, theremin; and Stiff Little Fingers bassist Ali McMordie. Not pictured: Mark Stewart from Paul Simon's band and Phil Duffy of Skin Flints.