Making of New Cees Slings Freestyle for Tinne Vilhemson Silfvén & Favourit

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Tinne Silfvén and Favourit at the competition in Florida where they met with Cees Slings for a new freestyle. © 2011 Ken Braddick/


During Tinne Vilhemson Silfvén’s first winter in Florida earlier this year, Antonia Ax:son Johson, the owner of the Swedish Olympian’s horses, asked Cees Slings to make a new competition freestyle for Tinne and  Favourit.

“We love all the ‘specials’ you did for Anky van Grunsven; we like that sort of things too!” they asked.

Four months later, the result — “It’s Broadway!”

Click here for a preview.

Cees Slings composed and produced the music for Anky from the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 to the Athens Games in 2004.

For Tinne and Favourit, he has created for the first time three versions so judges and spectators don’t get tired of the music.

One is for the World Cup series that she will ride in shows in Europe and Wellington, Florida where she will spend their second winter competing the 12-year-old Rhinelander gelding and other top horses.

A second version has been created for the Olympics — Sweden has qualified a team for London — with a different passage introduction, a different passage/piaffe tour that is performed twice and a passage/piaffe finale with vocals.

A third version is a combination of the World Cup and Olympic versions with a special introduction in trot.

Cees Slings and co-producer Geert Keyzers working on Favourit’s freestyle.

The undertaking had an extra requirement.

Only the very basic scores or chord schemes were available for the tunes, themes and famous Fred Astaire songs from Broadway musicals, movies and shows originally composed by George Gershwin and Irving Berlin so transcriptions had to be made of the old recordings.

“In order to make a score a transcription you have to listen to what you hear and score (write) the notes again, a very difficult job because the recordings from that period are very poor and when vocals appear the music is even more dugged (softer),” he explained.

“Sometimes we found out, after listening many, many times, that more and other instruments were used than we had expected; and the research brought up very unusual Big Band settings and instrumentations.

“In the trailer you can see an old black and white clip of a big band with two French horns in the trombone section, very rare, or even eight clarinets in the sax-section. Normally in the arrangement the instruments are mentioned, but because they all got lost we had to do it with our own ears!

“Because it became clear to me that there were no limitations in the arrangements and instrumentations, the idea came up to do the same again. With the new recording, production techniques and instruments we use nowadays.”

DJ-D Rok and Hans Weekhout working in the studio with source material. Yes, that really is a 78 rpm vinyl disk of Fred Astaire singing "Puttin' on the Ritz" (1930)

An innovative scratch technique, or sample-treatment, by DJ D-Rok (real name is Daan Koekelkoren) was applied.

The production and arrangement were very adventurous and impossible for a brass section to play but Cees said it is still musically correct, justified and acceptable.

“We think that other producers will follow, because it’s really fun to hear and completely new,” he said.

“Still it does not interfere with the musical flow of the freestyle and it’s completely tailormade to the tempo and movement of Favourit.”

Production started April 5 and the first master was completed on Sept 7.

The whole production process in Sweden and Holland was filmed in high definition video.

Choreographing music to the movements of Favourit