Magazine article Variety

Septet of Composers Seeks Emmy Glory

Magazine article Variety

Septet of Composers Seeks Emmy Glory

Article excerpt

THE SIX SCORES vying for this year's Emmy for music composition for a limited series, movie or special range from 19th-century tales of Canada and the Old West to futuristic stories of androids and virtual reality. There's even a documentary about emperor penguins.

Alias Grace

For this six-part Netflix drama based on a Margaret Atwood novel about a possible murderess in 1859 Canada, composers Mychael Danna and JeffDanna wanted to "honor the time but put our own spin on it," says Jeff. "We thought it needed a postmodern chamber sound": just 12 strings, three woodwinds, harp and piano.

Oscar winner Mychael ("Life of Pi"), who has known writer-producer Sarah Polley for more than 20 years, adds: "We did write in period style, but with elements of minimalism and even trance music, using instruments that the characters in the story would have been familiar and comfortable with."

Black Mirror

The "USS Callister" episode of Netflix's sci-fianthology demanded three different sounds, says British composer Daniel Pemberton ("Steve Jobs" ): one for the pulpy sci-fiseries that inspires a reclusive computer programmer, another for the near-future world he inhabits and one that blends both into the virtual-reality game he invents.

"I had to write a theme that could be adapted multiple ways - a classic, strong fanfare motif that would hark back to things like 'Star Trek' but have an original identity that would work through the episode," he says. "At the same time, I had to create this other world that was a lot more synthetic and modern, and slowly fuse those two elements as the show progresses." Pemberton used a 70-piece orchestra in Prague.

Godless

Miami-based composer Carlos Rafael Rivera once gave guitar lessons to Scott Frank, the writer-director of Netflix's acclaimed seven- part Western about an outlaw on the run on the outskirts of a failed mining town. Rivera (who also scored Frank's film "A Walk Among the Tombstones") spent 18 months writing four and a half hours of music for "Godless." He started from a reading of the screenplay and sent early ideas to Frank that influenced how some scenes were shot. "I had written the music of the final scene early on, and he sent that music to the scouting people to play as they were looking for locations," he says. …

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