In the latest episode of Variety Artisans presented by HBO, “Succession” composer Nicholas Britell spoke to Variety‘s Jazz Tangcay about connecting the music of Seasons 1 and 2 and how he conveyed the dual tonality of the show.
“It was a big thought process because this is the first television series that I’ve had the opportunity to score and also the first time I’ve had a Season 2 to think about,” Britell said. “There are certain chords and certain melodies and themes that feel like they have become very connected to our characters. But at the same time, I think instinctively for me, I always want to evolve things and I always want to make sure that the music is developing with out story and with where we are going.”
Britell chose to think about the show like a symphony, and therefore crafted the music of Season 2 as if it were the second movement in a classical piece.
“My instinct was to say, ‘What if we imagined this show as a symphony, and what if this was like the second movement of a symphony?'” Britell said. “If you go back to the classical era, symphonies would have specific movements and each one would have its own character. And at times, a second movement might have a more melancholic or a darker, contemplative feel to it.”
However, Britell’s favorite part of composing music for the show is figuring out how to match its dual tonality, which is constantly wavering between the extremely serious and hilariously outrageous.
“In Season 1, I had the realization that this show had this dual tonality, it wasn’t just serious and it also wasn’t just absurd,” Britell said. “Every moment of the show is a question, like ‘What is the right feel for every moment?’ And it takes a lot of time and thought and discussion.”
For example, Britell found that somber music matched with the comedic moments in the show made them even more ridiculous.
“Funny music isn’t funny for me inside the music, let’s say. If the music starts to sound funny, I actually think that’s not that funny,” Britell said. “But specifically for this show, funny music for me is when it’s uber serious.”