Monday, December 27, 2010

Smallville Music

Composer Mark Snow worked in tandem with producer Ken Horton to create the underscore for the show. Snow created his music on the spot, as he watched the picture, and then tweaked his performance upon reviewing the recordings from his initial play. He then sent the music to the producers, who decided if they liked it or not; if not, then they sent it back and he recomposed. Episodes also feature their own soundtrack, comprising one or more songs by musical bands. Jennifer Pyken and Madonna Wade-Reed of Daisy Music work on finding these songs for the show's soundtrack. Pyken and Wade-Reed's choices are then discussed by the producers, who decide which songs they want and organize the process of securing the licensing rights to the songs. Although Snow admits it initially seemed odd to combine the two musical sounds on a "typical action-adventure" television show, he admits "the producers seem to like the contrast of the modern songs and the traditional, orchestral approach to the score".
The main theme to Smallville is not a score composed by Snow, who is used to composing the opening themes as well, like he did for The X-Files, but the single "Save Me" by Remy Zero. Although Snow did not compose the theme song for the opening credits, he did compose one for the closing credits. The closing credits music is composed based on how it represents the theme of the show. In the first two seasons, the music playing during the closing credits was one of the potential theme songs for the series, before Remy Zero’s "Save Me" was selected. The melody was more "heroic" and "in-your-face". Mark Snow was told during season two the closing credits needed new music, as they no longer represented where the show had evolved to. Snow created a new score, which was toned down, and featured a more "melodic" tune. Snow has also recomposed music from the previous Superman films. John Williams' musical score for the Krypton sequence in the opening credits of Superman was used in both season two's "Rosetta", which featured a guest appearance by Christopher Reeve, as well as various times in the season two finale. In order to save money, Mark Snow recorded his own version of John Williams' score, as using the original version would have required the team to pay Williams' orchestra as well.
In a May 23, 2008 interview with Randall Larson, Mark Snow revealed he would not be returning to perform the music duties, citing the work load of Smallville and The Ghost Whisperer as being too much for him. Snow did state he would be returning for The Ghost Whisperer. While reminiscing on his work with the show, Snow indicated much of the music had not really changed throughout the series, agreeing with Larson's description it was "more [about] maintaining the heroic concept and the mythology than progressing through specific changes". Louis Febre, who worked closely with Snow from the beginning, became the sole composer for Smallville beginning with season seven. Febre commented that since he began composing for Smallville there has been more of a shift to "thematic development" of the score, which would parallel the growth of the characters. Febre stated, "As Clark grew emotionally and intellectually more complex, I found a need to comment musically on his growth, and as he drew closer to his Superman persona, it became obvious that a 'Superman' theme would be required."
At various times the creative team have had the chance to try different musical tones to enhance the story of an episode. In season three's "Slumber", producer Ken Horton wondered if they could get a single band to provide all the music for the entire episode. During a breakfast meeting with the music department at Warner Brothers, the topic of band R.E.M. rose up, and Jennifer Pyken and Madonna Wade-Reed immediately saw an opportunity to connect the episode’s featured band with the episode’s story, which happened to revolve around REM sleep. That same season, Al Gough wanted to use Johnny Cash’s "Hurt" for the final scene of "Asylum"—where Lionel Luthor stares at Lex through a one-way mirror at Belle Reve sanitarium—from the moment he first read the script for the episode. As Madonna Wade-Reed was trying to get the song cleared for use Cash died; believing the use of the song for the show would honor his memory, Cash’s heirs cleared the rights for Smallville.
For season three's "Resurrection" and "Memoria", songs were chosen particularly to provide symbolism for the characters in the scene. In "Resurrection", The Rapture's "Infatuation" was used during a scene involving Lex and Lana; the point of the song was to symbolize the idea of, "Are we ever going to figure out what these two people think of each other?" For "Memoria", Gough came up with the idea of using Evanescence's "My Immortal" for the final scene of the episode. Gough informed Wade-Reed as soon as he began working on the script what song he wanted to use for the closing scene, as he saw the song as being symbolically about mothers, and in that scene Clark is telling Martha his first memory as a child was of his biological mother, Lara.
Season three's "Velocity" provided the music editors with the opportunity to use a style of music they would normally not use on the show. As the episode was similar to The Fast and the Furious, as well as being primarily focused on the only black character on the show, Pete, Madonna Wade-Reed was able to use a more hip-hop sound, which worked well with the story. Reed had heard of a British hip-hop artist named Dizzee Rascal, and became the first person in the United States to secure the licensing rights to use Rascal’s album. Beeman is known for directing episodes, and sometimes specific scenes, with particular songs in mind. For "Vortex" in season two, it was the Coldplay song for the final scene; Beeman directed the scene where Lana shows up at the Kent barn, just before Lex's wedding, to the Matthew Good’s "Weapon". In the song, the lyrics speak of an angel and the Devil by my side, and Beeman had directed Welling and Kreuk in a way timing specific shots with specific moments in the lyrics. When the talents of Pyken and Wade-Reed are not put to use, Mark Snow supplies all of the music for the episode, like he did beginning with season two's "Suspect".


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