Dailies: Fargo Music

Good afternoon, folks. For some time now, I’ve been meaning to say something about a component in film and TV that contributes to our aesthetic appreciation: music

Have you watched the Fargo TV series yet? (Don’t worry, I won’t say anything about Season 2: that would not very “retro,” now would it?)

Though Jeff Russo’s score for the series is original, he did reference “the sound field” from Colin Burwell’s score for the Fargo film. Like Burwell’s score, Russo’s is a compelling—and haunting—mixture of a rustic folk sound, which builds to a stirring orchestral melody. According to Russo in an ASCAP (American Society of Composers) interview from April 2014, his “base is authentic music, played by real people,” and so the score is composed of “45-piece orchestra.” It evokes “[s]uspense and tension and beauty and expansive lonesomeness.”

Listen to it, particularly when an episode ends and you get the entire composition: it leaves goosebumps on the skin. (Here’s a sample; yep, just got the goosebumps again.)

Throughout the series, Russo continues to add new textures and sound fields that echo scores associated with other directors. For example, in episode 9, “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage,” the music sometimes enters David Lynch territory, with finger-snapping slow jazz that makes us think of the Red Room. When the plot takes its inevitable dark turn, we find ourselves in that unsettling, nightmarish world of Kubrick’s The Shining, particularly when the shrill violin music is accompanied by the camera floating eerily down the hall:

Screenshot 2015-11-04 at 12.59.02 PM


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