Reznor taps inner dweeb for ‘Social’ score

Nine Inch Nails frontman works with Ross on 'Network'

When director David Fincher considered composers to score “The Social Network,” musical talent aside, he needed someone “who understood the horniness of being the dweeb outsider.” Enter Trent Reznor.

“I can pick up on what he’s saying there; I can relate to that,” Reznor says with a laugh, of Fincher’s comment in the movie’s production notes. From the long opening cue that plays over no dialogue and sets an almost unbearably lonely tone, the Nine Inch Nails auteur and his partner Atticus Ross created an edgy, largely electronic score that ups the emotional ante of the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“One of the questions that rose in my mind right off the bat was, ‘Why is (Fincher) looking to me to do this?’ ” first-time scorer Reznor recalls. “I can do dark, I can do ominous, I can do unpleasant and tension, but I wasn’t sure how that applied to this film until I got a read from him — how he was looking to underscore in a way that made it less about people in rooms talking and more about this emotional journey that this character goes through.”

After that initial meeting with Fincher and after viewing the first 40 minutes of the film, Reznor and Ross retreated to their studio and wrote for three weeks. “I told David, ‘Hey, I’m just going to paint a bunch of sketches for you,” Reznor says. “Let us know if we’re in the right ballpark.”

Even though Reznor says he fully expected to make a number of revisions, Fincher told the pair they’d “nailed it” on their first try. He placed the themes to picture.

“It was really about building the right world,” says Ross, who also scored “The Book of Eli.” After the initial work, the duo spent a few more months editing and arranging pieces more specifically for scenes.

The most demanding cue was the reinvention of Edvard Grieg’s dramatic “In the Hall of the Mountain King” for the pivotal regatta scene.

“There were some bloody knees on that one,” Reznor says. “That scene was the very last thing filmed for the movie. (David) shot that at the Henley Regatta. He came to us and said, ‘I’d like to have music before I film so I can (get) my mind in the right mindset.'”

Reznor’s idea to recreate the classical tune with a ” ’70’s synthesizer, ‘Switched on Bach’ feel…wound up sounding just stupid,” he says. “I went a little too far into it.” After retrenching slightly, he and Ross came up with the right balance. “That was the most challenging in terms of hours spent and a slight air of desperation,” says Ross.

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