[WATCH] Composer Gabriel Mann makes music for ‘Rectify,’ ‘School of Rock,’ ‘Modern Family’ & ‘Rosewood’

During our recent webcam chat (watch above), in-demand composer Gabriel Mann was candid about his creative process “In terms of my approach, that just varies from project to project.” Mann, a member of the LA-based alternative rock band The Rescues, works on a wide variety of shows, including “Modern Family,” “Rosewood,” “Rectify,” and “School of Rock.” “It’s amazing, actually, how different they are,” he says. “The thing that I like about working on them is that I just like the variety.”

Mann’s duties require him to wear many different hats stylistically and tonally. On “Rectify,” a dark, brooding drama about a man (Aden Young) set free after serving 19 years on death row, the music “is all subtext.” Mann credits creator Ray McKinnon with allowing for creative freedom. “He doesn’t really care what it sounds like, he just wants it to serve its purpose in the most effective possible way. So we’ve used all manner of instruments, but there is this sort of over-arching vibe to it all that matches the slow pace of the show, and that is very intense and very subtle sometimes, and very emotional. I have to sort of kick everybody out and get into the zone when I get into that stuff.”

In addition to writing the score for the TV version of “School of Rock,” Mann also serves as music director, which calls upon his experience as a producer and songwriter. The songs are “the centerpiece of what happens in every episode.” Be they original or covers, “with every song, there’s issues of performance. I have to make sure there’s something visually that is going to happen. The arrangements have to be created in such a way that there’s something for the camera to follow.”

He also touches upon “Rosewood,” a “hip hop procedural” for which he has written several songs and his ASCAP-winning work on “Modern Family.” On that five-time Emmy champ, “there’s so few cues that happen that there’s a lot of focus put on those cues.” Most of these are what he describes as “‘wrapping the show up in a bow’ kind of thing.” He elaborates, “Sometimes I’ll write just to get these ending cues exactly the way the creators want them to feel. Sometimes I’ll do multiple versions just to get this one cue right.”

Mann also recalls his appearance in the choir backing up Adele’s rendition of “Skyfall” on the 2012 Oscars. “It sounds like a big deal,” he laughs, “but basically it takes like two days of your life to perform this song that’s three minutes long.” He did relish the opportunity to rehearse with the pop star, who he describes as, “hysterical. Like genuinely an amazingly funny person, and just super talented.” He adds, “It was just awesome being in a room with her singing a song.”

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