The Walking Dead: Made To Suffer

The first half of “The Walking Dead” Season 3 draws to a close with tonight’s epic Made to Suffer. In addition to writing score to bombastic battle cues and gut-wrenching emotional moments, I contributed a piece of source music for the first time in this series. The cue, my arrangement of a two-hundred year old English lullaby called “Bye Bye Baby Bunting,” was featured during the scene between the Governor and his daughter.  The vocals are performed by Raya Yarbrough, whose voice was frequently heard in “Battlestar Galactica” and can currently be heard in my score to “Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome.”

I detail the process of producing this track in this week’s video blog:

The score to Made To Suffer features an all-out war between various musical themes.  The synth pulse Governor Theme that was introduced last week charges through the instrumentation, undulating beneath the strings, banjos, dulcimers, autoharps and other instrumentation that we’ve grown accustomed to.  This new, foreign musical element helps us feel what Rick feels — trapped in an alien environment.

More importantly, this new musical presence in the score underlines one of the most important themes of this season: zombies are no longer the greatest threat to our characters.  The biggest battle cue I’ve ever written up to this point was the “Farm Invasion” sequence from the Season 2 finale, Beside the Dying Fire. That cue featured the complete ensemble of instruments I’d ever used for the series until then, because the scene was the largest zombie attack our characters had yet faced. But, our heroes are not fighting zombies here. They are fighting living men and women. The presence of the synth pulse heightens the tension because we’ve never heard it in an action cue before.

The LFO’s in the synthesized pulse allow me access to sub frequencies that are difficult to achieve with traditional orchestras, even with amplified electric bass. A synthesizer can easily create low frequencies that cut through an ensemble, or even a full mix of dialog and sound effects.  Even at the episode’s loudest moments, we can still hear the ominous pulse of the Governor Theme, bringing the threat closer and closer.

I’m curious to hear from you guys, and to learn what other cues from Season 3 have caught your ears so far.  The show is taking a break for a while, but will be back early in the new year. The intensity won’t let up in the second half of the season.  The last eight episodes are going to blow you guys away.  Thanks for reading the blog, here.  See you guys in 2013!

-Bear