'Sherlock' hones composer's profile
LONDON — A hit TV show gets you noticed, even if your involvement goes only as far as the soundtrack.
Recently, when the co-composer of the theme music for “Sherlock,” Michael Price, released an EP of string quartets on iTunes, the recording went straight to No. 5 on the online store’s classical music chart.
“I was amazed, because the only people I’d told about the EP were the online ‘Sherlock’ community,” Price recalls.
The “Sherlock” music has been nominated for an Emmy; it also grabbed a nom in 2011. Indeed, Price may be poised to join the elite brigade of soundtrack composers sought out by Hollywood.
As a music editor, he has worked on the “The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, “Love Actually” and “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” among other projects.
In Blighty, the “Sherlock” score, co-written with David Arnold (composer of the past five Bond scores), won a Royal Television Society craft award for title music two years ago, and picked up two BAFTA nods in 2010 and 2011.
“?’Sherlock’ is the first TV series I’ve worked on where there’s a sense that it’s probably a modern classic that audiences will still be watching in 30 years’ time,” reckons Price.
Price’s big break came when he was invited to work as an assistant to the late composer Michael Kamen (the “Lethal Weapon” series, “Die Hard,” “Band of Brothers”).
“I was dropped into the Hollywood deep end,” he says. “They were immense productions with huge orchestras and the high-scale craziness that comes with having a (big budget).”
This no-expense-spared attitude toward creating soundtrack music is far removed from the sober, painstaking approach of “Sherlock.”
For Price and Arnold, the process often starts with the pair attending a cast read-through held in a rundown London church hall.
Gradually the duo will attempt to match their music to what emerges on the screen as notes are passed back and forth between the composers and “Sherlock” director Paul McGuigan.
Once the music is signed off, Arnold and Price have three weeks to get it recorded and delivered.
Working as a team (the pair have collaborated for a decade), the idea has been to ensure that “Sherlock” has what Price calls “a proper theme tune — a coherent, focused call to action.”
He adds that because “Sherlock” is quite contemporary, he and Arnold aren’t trying to hark back to an earlier inspiration. “We’re just responding to what is on the screen,” he says.
And letting the EPs fall where they may.