Good Wife Composer Pushes Boundaries in Season 5

It’s been a roller coaster ride on season five of the CBS hit television drama The Good Wife. To accompany the twists and turns of each episode has been the elegant score that compliments the drama perfectly. D.C. Internationalist caught up again with composer David Buckley who has been creatively inspired to push the boundaries of t.v. show music.

DCI: How would you define this season’s music?

DB: We took a change in direction this season. We felt we did not need to be restricted by the character or tone of the music from the past. What prompted this change was the tumultuous events that happened when Will & Diane and Alicia & Cary go their own way. It was like a rebirth for both these parties, and thus it was felt the music too could redefine itself. I have often played around with classical/baroque string figures in the episodes, but now in season 5, these ideas really get crystalized and come to the forefront. Strings, piano, mandolin and woodwinds are all part of the pallet. Having said which, if an episode requires a more ambient approach, then we will do that rather than trying to jam in anything inappropriate.

DCI: Has it been intentional to extend scene music into the title card?

DB: We have always extended the scene music into the title card, but in the old days we primarily went into the same regular main credit music. Now the main title music varies for each episode. This is fun as it makes it episode specific. Again though, if there is no good reason to do this we revert to our original piece.

DCI: What is it like working with Robert and Michelle King?

DB: Robert and Michelle are fantastic. Episode 505 (the big episode) was temped with a load of tracks using just a drum kit (I don’t know who wrote them). I did not care for it and asked Robert if he liked it. He felt it did the job but did not need me to emulate it and in fact asked me to find another way of creating a similar energy but in another musical setting. I came up with these baroque motor cues and Robert loved them. That’s not to say I can write anything and he will say ‘yes, sure!’. He has a strong opinion and we often backwards and forwards before we find what he wants. But they (and the other producers) are both very keen that I should be able to widen my musical universe and not be restricted by the standard tropes of t.v. music.

DCI: What are some of your favorite cues? And where do you get your inspiration from?

DB: My favorite cues this season are from episode 501, 505 and 514. There are others too, like Fake Rental Company (from an episode I cannot recall). Prior to this season, I loved writing the cues for the relationship between Will and Alicia. Inspiration comes from Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Corelli, Will, Alicia, Robert, Michelle, David Zucker…the list goes on!

The Interview: The Good Wife Music Composer

If Washington law firms were as humorous and dramatic as the fictional practice of Stern, Lockhart & Gardner, it might be fun to work for one. The Good Wife starring Julianna Margulies is a unique show that has garnered critical acclaim and steady ratings – a rare combination in the world of television. One of many appealing aspects is the show’s music score. It gives the drama a very contemporary, yet elegant feel. We caught up with David Buckley who serves as the music composer.

1. How did you land yourself a gig on The Good Wife? I scored a movie for Scott Free a couple of years ago, and Ridley [Scott] and Tony [Scott] are executive producers on The Good Wife too, so that gave me a bit of an in, but I had to do a couple of rounds of demos to clinch the deal.

2. How do you capture the essence of a scene? Like I would with film, I watch the scene over and over again, and then also look at it in context of the whole picture. It’s a fast turn around with little time to experiment so I find I have to trust my instincts.

3. Your style of music is contemporary (for the series), is that a continuation of Danny Lux’s work? I don’t know Danny Lux’s work. I heard some of the music on his episodes and thought it was quite attractive. I think our scores are pretty different. (that is not to say that I think my music is unattractive!)

4. How did you break into the music industry and what advice would you give to aspiring artists? I’ve been involved in music from an early age and have been fortunate to meet some incredible people in my journey, who have helped me make things happen. It’s a famously tough industry to break into, so I think it’s the same old stuff really – work hard, learn from those you admire, try and find your own voice, bounce back when you get knocked down (because you will, trust me!).

5. Any favorite composers whose work you follow? I don’t really listen to any one composer or artist. My iTunes library is pretty eclectic.

Note – This post was originally published on May 19, 2010.