[WATCH] ‘The Middle’ composer Joey Newman on ‘finding the right balance and pacing between the jokes’

“It’s still a challenge,” admits “The Middle” composer Joey Newman as we chat via webcam (watch above) about his work on the hit ABC sitcom, now in its seventh season. “Ultimately, now that we have the language, at least the musical language, so well ingrained in the show, it’s a lot easier to pull from. We have our sounds, our themes, all our different things, and we just take it from there.” As he explains, “Mainly, it is all set musically, except it’s always a challenge to still come up with the right way of scoring it to picture.”

The hardest part of scoring this tender-hearted series about a Midwestern family struggling to make ends is, “finding the right balance and pacing between the jokes, to not make a lot of the transitions sound too stingy, like we’re going in-and-out of a multi-cam.” The composer continues, “Trying to find that balance between happy and sad, or light and dark, has been pretty much the most work on the show since the beginning.”

The show’s single-camera format certainly has an impact on his musical decisions. “It’s an hour-long format in 22 minutes, versus 45 minutes. So I feel like I want to approach it in a similar way. Granted, it’s going to be cut and paste differently, but I at least want to approach it, score-wise; it really has something to say to support these characters.” He adds, “Our sound says something to kind of move the story forward, I think, more than the norm.”

Newman, who earned an Emmy nomination in 2008 for his work on the documentary series “Little People, Big World,” comes from a long line of musical geniuses. He is the grandson of Oscar-winner Lionel Newman and great-nephew of nine-time Oscar-champ Alfred Newman. And his cousins are Randy, Thomas, and David Newman. “I want to uphold the legacy the best that I possibly can,” he readily admits. “It’s about keeping those standards high, and making great music, and writing great music to picture. Being very sensitive to storytelling. That’s where I think the Newmans should get all their gifts from, is that they’re great storytellers with their music.”

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