Meet the Experts: Composers roundtable – ‘1883,’ ‘The Great,’ ‘Only Murders in the Building,’ ‘This Is Us,’ ‘Welcome to Earth’

Writing the perfect main title theme for a television show is easier said than done, say some of the industry’s top composers during the Gold Derby Meet the Experts: Composers roundtable panel. Watch the exclusive video interview above.

“It’s like trying to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste in a container. It takes ages,” says Breton Vivian, a composer who worked with Brian Tyler on the score for “1883” and its parent series, “Yellowstone.” “Sometimes it’s just some sort of hook that you can kind of expand into a bigger thing. But for me, it’s always just spending a really long time with it, measure by measure.… But then sometimes you just do it in like, a couple of minutes. For me, there’s no real formula for it.” 

In our exclusive video interview roundtable, Vivian was joined by Nathan Barr (an Emmy Award winner who wrote the music for Season 2 of Hulu series “The Great”), Siddhartha Khosla (a three-time Emmy nominee for “This Is Us” who wrote the music for the NBC drama’s final season as well as breakout Hulu comedy “Only Murders in the Building”), and Daniel Pemberton (an Emmy and Oscar nominee who handled scoring duties on NatGeo’s “Welcome to Earth”).

“I love the challenge of a main title because it’s so completely unreasonable – the ask, right? It’s like, ‘We need you to sum up this entire show experience in nine seconds or 12 seconds or 80 or 25 seconds.’ And I just find that really challenging in an exciting way,” says Barr, who won his Emmy for writing the main title to Ryan Murphy’s “Hollywood.”

“From a musical point of view, that can be quite difficult,” says Pemberton of writing main titles. But more daunting than the challenge of writing a catchy theme, he says, is the idea that people might not even pay attention to the end result. 

“I get so mad at streaming services cutting off the end credits – so mad that I’ve even written big articles in the newspaper about it,” he says. “Because it’s a really important part to have a moment of reflection…. I love hearing main themes that pay off in a show. You’ve got the theme in the beginning, but maybe in the last episode, you get the big version or you tease it through the show. I always think that’s fascinating. If you can pull that off as a composer and the directors allow you to do it. It’s great.”

Click on each name above to watch that person’s individual chat.

Make your predictions at Gold Derby now. Download our free and easy app for Apple/iPhone devices or Android (Google Play) to compete against legions of other fans plus our experts and editors for best prediction accuracy scores. See our latest prediction champs. Can you top our esteemed leaderboards next? Always remember to keep your predictions updated because they impact our latest racetrack odds, which terrify Hollywood chiefs and stars. Don’t miss the fun. Speak up and share your huffy opinions in our famous forums where 5,000 showbiz leaders lurk every day to track latest awards buzz. Everybody wants to know: What do you think? Who do you predict and why?

SIGN UP for Gold Derby’s free newsletter with latest predictions


More News from GoldDerby