Music is often one of the most important parts of creating a fully formed viewing experience, the thing that makes or breaks a piece of storytelling. Whether or not you are familiar with him, Tree Adams has been the composer bringing you those sounds on many of your favorite television shows, from Californication to Sirens to Legends and The 100, which premieres its third season tonight on The CW.
In preparation for the new season, we got in touch with Adams to discuss music, and he crafted a playlist of some of the songs that inspire him most. Speaking to him over email, we discussed some how The 100 novels inspired the music of the series, the tone of the series, and which composers working in television he admires the most. Check out the playlist below, and read on.
The 100 has found its niche over the past two seasons with its much anticipated third season beginning tonight on The CW. I asked Adams about what it was like in the beginning; did he read the source material or did he stick to the television scripts to find inspiration?
“I did read the Kass Morgan books that the series is based on,” Adams said. “I think when you start a project it’s good to immerse yourself in it. As the music guy, you’re often coming in pretty late in the process. So, I think you have to dive in and get up to speed. I recently read an interview with John Williams where he said that he didn’t like to read scripts because he’d form images in his own head before seeing the picture and that this might derail the process a bit for him. I can see where he’s coming from, I suppose, and he’s certainly as good as there is out there. Nevertheless, I feel like the scripts, the books, they all help me to operate on that level that my collaborators are on.”
Adams continued, delving into the musical tones and themes that emerge via the music of the series.”The 100 is science fiction and it takes place in a post apocalyptic earth where there are new races and clans. There are so many characters, relationships, clans, and environments in the show that one of the tasks the music has is to create cohesion. To this end, we’ve got a handful of melodic motifs that we reprise to support certain characters and themes, and we draw from a pretty wide sonic landscape, merging traditional orchestral battle music with contemporary synth elements, female vocals and some Middle Eastern instruments like Duduk and Yali Tambur. I think, in part, that using less traditional Western instrumentation helps to imbue the score with a bit of mystery. The showrunner, Jason Rothenberg, often speaks of wanting the score to sound like it’s from far away, and I think at times we accomplish this by using a less conventional sounding palette. Also, we’ll try and employ distinct instrumentation to delineate where we might be geographically or which character arc we are on.”
When I asked Adams which composers working in television he admired, his answers were as eclectic as his own body of work, including those working in political dramas, light comedies, science fiction, and more. “I loved Tim Jones’ score for Chuck. I think Jeff Beal is excellent. He writes great themes and melodies (i.e. House of Cards and Monk.) I think Trevor Morris is doing a phenomenal job with Vikings. Bear McCreary has done great things starting with Battlestar Galactica. I also really like his scores for Black Sails and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Bear has managed to assemble a good team, and the work they create is good and it feels like it’s his. This is the real challenge. It’s what we’re doing at my studio now as well. I have a great team and I do a bit of delegating here and there, but the key is that the music has my signature on it and that the entire team adheres to whatever intricate sonic matrix I’ve created and then stays on course.”
The 100 premieres its third season on The CW tonight. To find more about composer Tree Adams, visit his website.
Featured Image Credit: The CW
Tree Adams Image Credit: Randall Slavin