Monday, January 23, 2012

Interview: Composer Robert Duncan - Having Fun Scoring the Castle

Interview:  Composer Robert Duncan - Having Fun Scoring the Castle

Interview by Richard Buxton

As the ABC dramedy CASTLE continues through its fourth season on air, versatile composer ROBERT DUNCAN explores his work on the show and his previous experiences of scoring hits such as BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, THE UNIT and THE CHICAGO CODE, and offers an insight into the differences between TV and Film scoring.

TS- How exactly did you land the role of Castle's composer?

RD - I heard about the show in the pilot stage and had a meeting with one of the executives at ABC. She then took my demo CD and gave it to Castle producers Andrew Marlowe and Laurie Zaks. They got a few submissions, but kept coming back to me and eventually I was chosen. I was very lucky.

TS- Looking back over the previous three seasons of Castle, how would you say your music has evolved, and have such changes been a result of major storyline shifts or you establishing a greater understanding of the characters and the world they inhabit?

RD - The music has evolved with the characters. During the pilot, the main characters, Castle and detective Beckett were just meeting each other and there was an almost primal, slightly animalistic element to their flirting. Now their relationship is a lot deeper and the music has become more introspective.

TS- Being a comedy/drama, how has your approach to scoring Castle differed to say, a straight drama? Is the act of balancing the two genres a hindrance, or does it allow you greater freedom to experiment musically?

RD - Each show I work on has its own unique personality and vibe that I try to tap into. Even the way comedy is handled in a show can widely vary. My first lesson in scoring comedy was working on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The producers took what I think was a clever approach to the comedy: don't play it. With just a few exceptions, music always played the 'straight man', and sidestepped the humor. 'Clear for the joke' I would hear in meetings, meaning a bar ringout and rest, or sustain before continuing. Occasionally the music had some tongue-in-cheek or winking but not much. With Castle, the music plays more literally. The producers want the music to contour with almost every beat. Balancing comedy with drama isn't an awkward feat; in my mind it’s a palette and sensibility choice. One painting may be entirely made from varying shades of blue. Another may have blues, reds and greens.


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