“They didn’t want anything too epic, too leading in terms of emotion; we didn’t want to be telling people what to feel, but we wanted to help people to engage with the characters,” composer Antonio Gambale reveals in an exclusive interview with Gold Derby about his score for “Unorthodox” on Netflix (watch the video above). He continues via webcam from his home in Paris, “They also very much didn’t want the score to be specifically Jewish or specifically Yiddish or too much about Berlin and techno and that kind of thing or classical music either — all the main worlds of music that are already part of the story because that was already going to be there in the diegetic music.”
Much of Gambale’s contribution to the miniseries is felt in the character themes that he developed and which recur throughout the four episodes, with the one for Shira Haas‘ protagonist Esty even stealthily appearing “right in the middle of” the opening credits sequence. “I looked for instruments that were quite fragile-sounding and also quite broken-sounding,” Gambale explains about mirroring her character with her theme before qualifying, “They also are really powerful because they make these resonating tones.”
For Esty’s naively oppressive husband Yanky played by Amit Rahav, “It’s more of a mood of uncertainty, somewhat confused. It’s nothing to do with strength and poetic liberation.” The “more subtle” theme with operatic roots for Jeff Wilbusch‘s scheming Moishe has “a signature sound that you recognize when something bad is happening.” Although she drives the narrative less than the aforementioned trio, Esty’s grandmother played by Dina Doron also boasts a theme. “It’s one of the more beautiful and poetic themes in the whole show,” Gambale reckons. He notes about its employment, “We used it quite a bit whenever Esty’s at her lowest point and that’s usually times when she’s thinking about her grandmother.”
Gambale explains about why he has selected “Part 1” to submit for Emmy consideration in Best Movie/Limited Music, “It’s got a lot of the main themes for the first time that we hear them; it’s got some really important character moments; some of the more touching scenes are in it; it’s got a really really important medley towards the end.” He contends additionally for Best Main Title Theme Music and says about the goals with that original composition, “We wanted something modern and we wanted something exciting and we wanted something that didn’t feel like, ‘Oh, here we go, some kind of period and cultural and very specific drama that won’t appeal to many people’.” Gambale adds that they wanted it to reflect where Esty is going in Berlin as opposed to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish culture that she left behind in New York when the narrative begins.
The show’s 21-track original soundtrack is yet to be released publicly, but Gambale updates that he has “been contacted by some major soundtrack-focused labels.” What do you think? Will “Unorthodox” get a Best Limited Series nomination? Make your Emmy predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until the nominations announcement on July 28. And join in the fun debate over the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums.