MEGA-SPOILERS AHEAD: “Beside the Dying Fire”, the Season 2 finale of “The Walking Dead,” is the biggest episode of the series thus far in every sense. It features the most action, the most zombies, main characters slaughtered, a highly-anticipated new character introduction, and was viewed by over 9 million people last night, making it the most watched episode of the series, earning “TWD” a place in basic cable record books for highest ratings in key demographics. Similarly, my score had to be super-sized to keep pace, so our normal string sextet was expanded to a mammoth, full-string orchestra. Go behind-the-scenes of our session in this week’s video blog:
“Better Angels,” the penultimate episode of “The Walking Dead” season two is the most emotionally gripping and thematic score I’ve ever written yet for this series. The episode was ripe with creative opportunities: stunning revelations, long character arcs resolved, as well as intimate character moments and a thrilling new threat around the corner. For all this, the score had added narrative responsibility.
Before reading any further, be aware that my blog and video blog this week are filled with MAJOR SPOILERS, so definitely get caught up on the show before you proceed any further. Go behind-the-scenes of our orchestral recording session with this week’s video blog, where I discuss scoring several of the most important emotional cues:
In tonight’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” Judge, Jury, Executioner, Carl takes his first steps to controlling his own destiny, and his choices impact the group in unexpected ways. The episode gave me an opportunity to write Carl his own theme, as detailed in this week’s video blog:
MAJOR SPOILERS BEYOND: The Carl Theme is used to underscore his flirtations with danger throughout the episode. And of course, it is the end result of his exploration that leads to the episode’s shocking conclusion. Before I discuss any further, it is necessary to issue a serious “spoiler warning.” Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen the episode. This is major spoiler territory. If you haven’t seen Judge, Jury, Executioner yet, go watch it, then come back…
In tonight’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” 18 Miles Out, the brewing conflict between Rick and Shane finally erupts. There are zombies everywhere, but the real tension comes from these two friends battling one another in the midst of the mayhem. I strove to keep the score out of the way, to allow the incredible performances from Andrew Lincoln and Jon Bernthal to drive the story forward. However, some of the quieter, more ambient passages allowed to me to explore using a surprisingly effective new instrument, as I detailed in this week’s video blog:
In Triggerfinger, the threat facing our heroes in “The Walking Dead” continues to expand beyond the realm of the undead. Despite the external threats from other humans, we also get the sense that the greatest growing danger may in fact be coming from Shane. For that reason, you will hear new developments tonight in the Shane Theme, as detailed in the video blog:
“The Walking Dead” returns to close out an amazing sophomore season with tonight’s episode, Nebraska. This week’s video blog discusses a new character theme heard in Nebraska, Herschel’s Theme:
This scene is one of the most powerful in the episode because it gives us a glimpse into Herschel’s conflicted past, and without using a single word of dialog. The Herschel Theme is a melancholy tune in G minor, played at a very slow tempo by a solo viola: (more…)
I’m a bit late posting this week’s blog entry because I needed some time to absorb the episode’s impact, and to get fan reactions before I offered my own commentary. Because the music I wrote for Pretty Much Dead Already is some of my most powerful yet for “The Walking Dead,” I didn’t want to trivialize it by cutting it up into excerpts, so there are no audio or video clips this week.
Before going any further, I must point out that the remaining blog entry will deal almost exclusively with the final scene. The words “SPOILER ALERT” do not begin to describe how important it is that you watch the episode before reading any further. So, if you haven’t watched the episode, please go to your DVRs, TVs, iPods, Computers, DVDs or whatever you have and watch it first. Ok? Good. Here, we go…
Tonight’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” Secrets, allowed me to further explore the exotic folksy instrumentation of the score. One of the instruments I featured was the hurdy gurdy, as detailed in this week’s in-depth video blog:
The hurdy gurdy was not the only unusual instrument I used for this score. I also wrote for Paul Cartwright on the electric fiddle. Paul’s a fantastic instrumentalist I have worked with on virtually every project I’ve ever scored. He was featured prominently throughout “Battlestar Galactica,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” “Dark Void,” “SOCOM 4,” and “Caprica” just to name a few. (more…)
SPOILERS BEYOND: This week’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” Chupacabra, is one of my favorites because it lets us really explore Daryl, one of my favorite characters. He is ever determined to find Sophia out in the woods and continues to search for her on his own. Unfortunately, he accidentally falls into a ravine where he is stabbed by one of his own arrows and must fight oncoming zombies and his own blood loss in order to survive. During all this, he is motivated by visions of his brother Merle. I underscored these visions with droning beds of hurdy gurdy and harmonium, as detailed in this week’s video blog:
These sequences with Daryl were a challenge because they needed to be both dream-like and yet also suspenseful. So, I had to choose my instrumentation carefully. In addition to the bed of ambient instrumentation, I also used low percussion to create a primal, tribal heartbeat: (more…)
SPOILERS BEYOND: A significant subplot in Cherokee Rose involves our heroes discovering a zombie floating in a well and fishing it out. This was my only chance for intense action scoring this episode, so I wrote a heart-pounding percussion piece featuring Jonathan Ortega on exotic stringed percussion instruments, as featured in this week’s video blog:
The autoharps, psaltery and hammered dulcimer have been a part of the fabric of “The Walking Dead” score from the very beginning. My philosophy with this series was to find instruments used in traditional bluegrass, folk and country music and distort or manipulate them until they are unrecognizable and create a unique musical signature for this world.