The creators of music for such shows as "The Looming Tower" and "Chef's Table" weigh in on the building blocks (words, images, QuickTime?) that lay the foundation for unforgettable scores.
When it comes to creating powerful music for a TV series — limited, scripted, whatever the genre — timing is everything. Some composers, like Will Bates, who created the music for Hulu’s The Looming Tower, enjoy coming on board very early in the process, before a single frame has been shot. Because the project was based on Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Bates was able to read it in order to get a sense of the main character, FBI agent John O’Neill.
“It was such a broad, far-reaching story that I needed time to figure out how the instrumentation was going to go,” says Bates. “And I wanted to nail John’s theme right away. It would give me a springboard for other melodic ideas.”
Once he started seeing footage from the episodes, not all of his earlier music still worked. “But that’s part of the fun of TV. You come up with things early on and get to change their context as the series progresses,” says Bates.