Composer Gives ‘American Horror Story’ ‘Queens’ Music to Scream By

When showrunner Ryan Murphy needed a composer to replace the exiting James Levine on “American Horror Story,” producer Alexis Woodall thought of Mac Quayle, who had been an assistant composer on Murphy’s HBO movie “The Normal Heart.”

“They wanted to go in a new direction for ‘Freak Show,’ ” says Quayle, referring to the anthology series’ latest season, which debuted in October 2014. “I sent some music in, and was hired the next day.”

Quayle embellished the ’50s-set “Freak Show” score by adding 20th-century classic orchestration offset by ’50s-style sci-fi strings, circus motifs and period tempos. Combining these diverse styles resulted in the dissonance he was looking for.

While Quayle’s non-Murphy projects — the doc “Autism in Love,” upcoming feature “L.A. Slasher” and USA Networks computer hacker series “Mr. Robot” — await release dates, the composer is developing the score for Murphy’s new Fox series “Scream Queens,” debuting this fall.

“We’re working on the early episodes now,” he says. We start with an idea, play with the edits, then readjust the score. While it’s the same process as ‘American Horror Story,’ the content itself is very unlike that show. It’s outrageous, funny and scary. I’m anxious to see viewers’ reactions.”

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