Magazine article Variety

Africa Resonates in 'Black Panther' Music

Magazine article Variety

Africa Resonates in 'Black Panther' Music

Article excerpt

AFTER BEING ASSIGNED TO SCORE a film with a far-flung backdrop, most composers would do a little research to try to add the appropriate atmosphere.

Ludwig Göransson, the Swedish-born composer who was charged with scoring Marvel's "Black Panther" movie and has worked with director Ryan Coogler on all of his films, didn't just visit a university library or look at YouTube videos: He spent a month in Africa.

The result was life-changing, he tells Variety: "I came back with a totally different idea of music, a different knowledge. The music that I discovered was so unique and special. [The challenge was] how do I use that as the foundation of the entire score, but with an orchestra and modern production techniques - infuse it in a way that it doesn't lose its African authenticity?"

Coogler says his composer (who also scored "Fruitvale Station" and "Creed") returned from his sojourn with "amazing" material. "We were really interested in getting African sounds that had never been in a film like this," he notes.

Nearly all of the unusual sounds in the "Black Panther" score were recorded in the West African nation of Senegal, where Göransson spent two and a half weeks accompanying singer-guitarist Baaba Maal on tour. Maal introduced Göransson to other Senegalese musicians, and many performed on the soundtrack.

The music that pairs with T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), monarch of the film's fictional African kingdom Wakanda, is led by six "talking drums," which Göransson explains as "a small drum you put on your shoulder, one that does what no other percussion instrument does - it breathes." The drummer squeezes, then loosens it to change the pitch.

Maal sings (in the Fula language) about the death of T'Challa's father; he collaborated with Göransson on the song, heard when Wakanda is first revealed in the film. For the theme associated with usurper Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), the composer used another West African instrument, the Fula flute: "It sounded sad but also aggressive, energetic and impulsive," he says, and with the flutist -> ?- speaking and even screaming into the flute, "it really resonated with the character."

Göransson further found specific sounds for certain scenes. A sabar drummer performed "challenge rhythms" for T'Challa's competitors. The kora, an African harp, and the vuvuzela, an African horn often used by fans at sporting events, provided additional color. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.