Composer Rupert Gregson-Williams wanted to capture “the sounds of the streets” in “The Alienist.” This TNT limited series focuses on a pioneering criminal psychologist (Daniel Brühl) who tracks down a serial killer in late-19th-century New York. And since the city at that time was a melting pot of immigrants from all over the world, the music veteran wanted to play upon “the cultural diversity at that time” in his score. Watch our exclusive video interview with Gregson-Williams above.
Blending music from around the globe could create a messy hodgepodge, but Gregson-Williams found “some common denominators as far as instruments go in all those countries,” such as early guitars and percussion. He sampled sounds from Italian, Jewish, and Eastern European styles, but he predominately focused on Irish folk music since the Irish “are a big part of the story: they run the police, and there’s a lot of corruption. I found that there were instruments like accordion and broken pianos” that conveyed this culture. Immigrants came “from Czechoslovakia as well as from Ireland, so there were some joining points that I could dive for.”
This season Gregson-Williams also returned to “The Crown,” which earned him an Emmy nomination last year. But regardless of the accolades, “you fret about keeping it fresh because the directors are doing that all the time as well, trying to find a new way of telling the story … There’s no resting on your laurels, especially with Peter Morgan, the creator. He’s very much wanting to make new ground all the time.”
Gregson-Williams previously competed at the Emmys for “Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story” (Best Movie/Mini Score in 2002). He also served as composer on “Veep” in its first four seasons. And his recent film credits include “Hacksaw Ridge” (2016), “Wonder Woman” (2017), and the upcoming “Aquaman” (2018).
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