If there’s one thing every composer feels the same way about, it may be this: Death to temp music.
“I think we all agree that temp music is evil,” “This Is Us” composer Siddhartha Khosla said during Gold Derby’s Meet the BTL Experts: Composers panel (watch above), which also included Carter Burwell (“Space Force”), Curtis Moore (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Dave Porter (“Better Call Saul” and “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie”) and Colin Stetson (“Barkskins”).
Porter, who’s been part of the “Breaking Bad” franchise since the beginning, shares that he’s been “fortunate very early on to instill in them that temp music is evil, so I’ve avoided that all these years, which is an absolute blessing, of course.”
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To try to get around or ahead of temp, Khosla tries to get involved early on, even though music is usually one of the final elements before picture is locked, with temps that he has written. “For me, it’s more that it’s an insecurity that I have about the temp music that makes me want to get in really early to avoid anyone getting attached to any temp. With ‘This Is Us’ early on — not as much now — pre-writing themes for things I knew were coming up in hoping that editors will cut with that piece of music and not cut with temp,” he revealed. “For me, it comes out of an insecurity about the temp where I am just doing whatever I can to get rid of it.”
Stetson says he follows the same process, which he learned from the late Johan Johansson. “I think I was probably railing against temp, having this same conversation we’re having now, and he was saying, ‘I don’t use it. I refuse to use it. I write temp music well in advance for the edit,’” Stetson recalled. “So every job I got, I just started asking, ‘Can we start this early? Can we get out ahead of it? Can the temp be all the music that I write off the script and for this specifically?’ Invariably what will happen in the edit when the director, editor, producers have seen it … it’s all to the music you’ve written specifically for it, so you use that to your advantage. I love a long runway.”
Watch the full panel to find out their worst temp experiences and what their favorite TV scores are.
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