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The West Wingwas one of the first series with episodes scored with a genuine orchestra. What were the challenges of pulling an orchestra together? The biggest challenges were money and time. We did a deal with the musicians’ union to get a cheaper rate for a first-year series, so more series would begin to go back to the

orchestra for scoring. That would have held up, but we quickly began to run so short on time between lock and scoring dates, that it became impossible to make the turnaround with a live orchestra. Hence the next six years of orchestral emulation.

You’ve most recently scored all 76 episodes of Friday Night Lights.How do you sustain the energy and the pace of writing music for a television series? Having a great show makes the job so much easier. FNL is a super little show and Bennett [Salvay] and I have a process we have refined on the show that makes it fun and invigorating to write. We both have our “jobs” and it’s very streamlined as well as creative. We are three episodes from completing the series and its still a great hang!

How long does it take you to score one episode, start to finish? Do you have any real time to dwell on what you create? Depends on the show. For FNL, it’s a total of about three days; for West Wing, I was down to one day toward the end. Men of a Certain Age is a different process that is spread over 10 to 14 days. Like I said before, each show has its own

personality. All in all, I would say it takes five to six days to do an average one-hour television show. (In manpower, anyway.)

Good or bad, has an episode’s score ever surprised you, or turned out differently than you expected? Quite often—and it can go either way. Sometimes when I have over-thought an episode, or someone (like a producer) has over-thought it for me, it can become stiff and not flow with the characters and the story. It needs to be a natural flowing process for me to find my best take on the material. On the other hand, sometimes magic happens immidiately, and the great material comes from the ether, if you know what I mean.

Episode to episode, how much of the story do you know ahead of time? Is it necessary to read the scripts? I generally dont read the scripts once we are past the first four or five shows, unless I need to handle some pre-recorded music. I find that the story that is shot is the one I’m scoring, not what started out on the page.

You’ve worked on three separate Aaron Sorkin series. Are you naturally drawn to his style of writing? He has an incredible way of creating characters that resonate with me.

Is there a medium you haven’t scored music for, but are wanting to? I would love to score a video game. It sounds like a lot of fun, and probably very creative.

Among your contemporaries, whom are you most impressed with? Thomas Newman has always been a favorite, as well as Randy.


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