Noteworthy Television Scores!

It all starting with HBO...

Some have said that we are entering into a new golden age of television. HBO seemed to be the first to release a string of edgy unrestricted dramas, followed suit by Netflix and the like. Now it seems as though every major network has set their sights on producing big-budget TV shows designed to be binged and to blow our socks off.

... and with great TV comes great scores.

The production on many of the decades best shows is deserving of near-cinematic status, especially when paired with a thought-provoking and powerful soundtrack. It is quite refreshing to see so much effort put into an epic score at the television level. I first took notice of this trend after stumbling upon a YouTube video of Jeff Beal explaining the compositional elements of the brilliant title theme for Netflix's House of Cards. This prompted me to seek out any bonus content, behind the scenes footage, or commentary on any of the other TV scores that I hold to that level. Below are some of the videos that I found fascinating and inspiring:

Jeff Beal discusses House of Cards Theme. I find the "riptide" bass line particularly compelling and effective in capturing the mood of the show. Also, the theme pairs perfectly with the time-lapse shots of D.C.

Jeff Russo interviewed on the Fargo Score. This is one of my favourite shows, and quite possibly my favourite TV score to date! The second season also features some great 70's (inspired) music including a cover of Man of Constant Sorrow by Portland band Blitzen Trapper.

Although I couldn't find any backstory to Mac Quayle's score for Mr. Robot, I figured I would still include a sample clip along with this article. This music is dark, moody and steeped with anxiety and paranoia - perfect for a show that depicts the external and internal struggles of a bipolar hacker! Also to its credit is the use of subtractive synthesizer sequences and effects. 

Those were some of my favourite picks...

Honourable mentions include music from the period dramas Halt and Catch Fire, Boardwalk Empire, and Mad Men. I have also heard great things about Netflix's Stranger Things soundtrack, though I have not yet watched the show, so I am in no position to comment on it.

After inspecting some of the best music on television, I hope that this has sparked some intrigue and a greater appreciation for the importance for a good theme and score, and how it can elevate a television production when done well. Hopefully, we can recognize some of the most effective aspects of these compositions and utilize them in our on productions. No matter! The bar for TV music has been raised, and I, for one, am a fan!

 

Please leave a comment below if you would like to share your favourite score that I may have missed!