Daniel Hart interview: ‘The Green Knight’ composer
“I did more research for this film than any film I’ve ever worked on,” says “The Green Knight” composer Daniel Hart about writing music for the medieval fantasy about Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) and his quest to seek out the title character as part of a deadly game. He had never written music for this genre before, so he thought, “That’ll be an adventure. And I felt like it needed to feel authentic musically in certain ways.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Hart above.
Preparing for “The Green Knight” involved “looking up 15th century instrumentation and musical styles … and then on top of that, I wrote a lot of lyrics in Middle English.” Hart wanted those lyrics to sounds like the original poem, which was penned in the 14th century, “so I did a lot of reading of Middle English poetry and listening to people reciting Middle English poetry … Because often when I was writing lyrics, it was the sound of a word that drew me to it as much as the meaning of the word itself.”
“The Green Knight” was written and directed by David Lowery. Hart has composed the scores for all of Lowery’s feature films, which have ranged in style from “The Old Man and the Gun” to Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon” and which required music that’s just as different. “I love being a chameleon,” he said about varying his compositions from film to film. “There’s so many different styles of music that I’m obsessed with, and so many that I’ve been lucky enough to be able to learn about and then perform over the years.” But there is a common element in the music because Lowery’s films all explore “the fragility of existence, the vulnerability of what it is to be human and to be alive.”
Now Hart finds himself on the Oscars shortlist for Best Original Score, a first for the composer. “‘What?’ That was my reaction, I think. And then after that, ‘Awesome,'” he says about the surprise of getting the good news. He admits it’s “intimidating” to be among “a lot of really good music by a lot of really good composers.” But creating this score was “like being a kid in a candy store. All the things that I wanted to do to make the sounds of this film I got to do.”