For those of us who grew up with comic books in the ’60s and ’70s, the current batch of super-hero series on the CW have proven to be great fun. They’re constantly referencing classic storylines that we remember so well. Case in point: the four-part Crisis on Earth-X crossover series that linked Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow and aired over two nights last fall. I was honored to moderate a clip-filled Q&A that featured composers Blake Neely, Nathaniel Blume, Daniel James Chan and Sherri Chung, examining in depth how they went about scoring this grand-scale TV epic. The Society of Composers & Lyricists sponsored the event.
For the main story in this week’s Music for Screens section in Variety, I profiled Blake Neely, who composes, supervises and/or produces approximately four hours of music every week for such DC Comics shows as Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl; the Archie Comics revamp Riverdale; and the thriller Blindspot. He’s also got a documentary coming up and will shortly score the second feature by his frequent collaborator, producer-director Greg Berlanti. (I even got him to talk about his theme for CNN’s The Sixties / Seventies / Eighties.) It was great fun visiting him at his ultra-modern North Hollywood studio and seeing how he works with his team.
For this season’s Emmy contenders issue, the editors at Variety posed an interesting question: When TV series run two, three, four or more seasons, how do the composers treat their characters and story arcs? Is it best to ground them in familiar musical territory, or should the scores reflect the changing, often expanding, storylines? I interviewed a wide range of composers to find out how they handled the challenge: Bear McCreary (Outlander), Blake Neely (The Flash), Joey Newman (The Middle), Jeff Beal (House of Cards), Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones), John Lunn (Downton Abbey) and Sean Callery (Homeland).
I had the pleasure of interviewing composer Blake Neely — along with producers Chris Cowen and Mark Herzog — about his music for the documentary Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope at the Museum of Tolerance. Blake is a versatile composer who never seems to stop working. Here’s a brief story about the evening, sponsored by the Society of Composers and Lyricists.