Kris Bowers interview: ‘Bridgerton’ composer

By now, everyone knows that “Bridgerton” is “not your grandmother’s Regency piece,” which is how creator Chris Van Dusen described the show to composer Kris Bowers when he signed on. That meant the music had to match the reimagined period drama as well, which did not come easily to Bowers.

“We had a few trial-and-error efforts that were not really successful in the very beginning,” Bowers tells Gold Derby at our Meet the BTL Experts: Composers panel (watch above). “My first thought was, ‘OK, I’ll write some classical pieces and then chop those up as if they were samples and make pop or hip-hop beats out of those and have it really be this modern production kind of sound.’ And that really didn’t work. It was too expected actually as far making it feel that modern.”

Bowers, who earned two Emmy nominations for his score and the theme to the Netflix smash, had his breakthrough moment after hearing two things: the classical rearrangements of contemporary hits like Ariana Grande‘s “thank u, next” that are used in the show and a Reveille piano piece Van Dusen had sent him as reference to write a piano piece for Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) to play in the third episode. “[Reveille] has this romantic kind of sound to it, this somewhat mysterious, almost magical kind of quality to it,” Bowers explains. “And these covers that once I heard the Ariana Grande cover of ‘thank u, next’ in the first episode, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh! This is such a brilliant idea,’ and how great those arrangements are at capturing the feeling of a pop song.”

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The piano piece for Daphne would eventually become the lush, romantic theme for Simon (Rege-Jean Page) and Daphne, which first plays at the end of the pilot when the pair come up with their ruse to court one another. Their scheming is intercut with their “debut” as a couple and their first dance.

“Her theme has this sense of anticipation and this nervousness that she’s feeling … and I had the idea of trying to find a way to get from her theme as they’re having this conversation and once they start dancing to break into their theme and have it be this really optimistic, loving, romantic version of their theme because when we hear their theme next … it has much more of a mysterious, darker sound to it,” Bowers shares. “And throughout the rest of the season, you actually hear their theme in different emotional qualities, but it’s never as positive or as big as that first episode until the final episode.”

Bowers is returning the second season, which will focus on Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) and his quest for love, but the Oscar nominee has not yet had a discussion with Van Dusen about the sonic palette. “I know he wants to explore some new themes and see how we can take some of the themes from last season and build upon them as far as any of the themes that exist,” Bowers says.

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UPLOADED Aug 9, 2021 1:37 pm