These Composers Had Very Specific Instructions to Follow When Scoring the Music for ‘The Crown’
The Crown won seven major Emmy Awards in the Drama category at the 73rd Emmys on Sept. 19. The Netflix series won Outstanding Drama Series, Lead Actor for Josh O’Connor, Lead Actress for Olivia Colman, Supporting Actor for Tobias Menzies, and Supporting Actress for Gillian Anderson. Creator Peter Morgan walked away with Outstanding Writing, and director Jessica Hobbs took home the Emmy for Outstanding Directing.
The Crown Season 4 has proved to be one of the most successful seasons the series has ever had. But there’s no surprise that it stole so many awards at the 2021 Emmys. The Crown has always dominated. Showrunners have laid out every aspect of the series carefully, even the score. Thanks to composers Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe, and Rupert Gregson-Williams, The Crown had more emotion.
Who are Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe, and Rupert Gregson-Williams?
Hans Zimmer is one of the most famous film score composers worldwide. Since starting in the 1970s, Zimmer has composed over 200 films. Zimmer has worked with many directors but has worked with Ridley Scott, Ron Howard, Gore Verbinski, Michael Bay, Guy Ritchie, and Christopher Nolan multiple times.
His most well-known scores appear in Gladiator, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the Dark Knight trilogy, Sherlock Holmes, Dunkirk, and Blade Runner 2049. Zimmer has only won a single Academy Award for The Lion King in 1995.
Lorne Balfe has worked with Han Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions. He started working in the business in the late 1990s and is known for his work on films like Terminator Genisys, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and Black Widow.
Rupert Gregson-Williams is also a member of Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions. Hacksaw Ridge, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and The Legend of Tarzan are among his many credits.
‘The Crown’s composers had specific instructions to follow
The Crown follows the tumultuous life of the royal family in and out of the spotlight. Zimmer, Balfe, and Gregson-Williams had to compose a score that was equal parts regal and human. The composers had to score something outside of royal fanfare to make the characters seem like ordinary people. Their music would be instrumental in helping pull back the veil on this mysterious family.
Gregson-Williams told The World that he wanted to go for a haunting sound, which you can hear the most in the series’ opening theme. The 17th century English composer Henry Purcell’s “What Power Art Thou” inspired him.
The brainstorming sessions between the three composers were incredibly intense because creator Peter Morgan gave them specific instructions “about evoking the drama of postwar Britain.”
“Peter Morgan was very specific about how he wanted to feel like we had tectonic plates shifting in the world,” Gregson-Williams said. “He wanted it to feel regal, but without being pompous, and we had lots of conversations. In fact, that theme took quite a long time, a lot of time talking and not writing, and eventually we got it.”
‘The Crown’s score darkened during season 2
The three composers made The Crown Season 1‘s score feel lighter for “the birth of a new queen.” However, season 2 got darker, not only because of the subject matter but because the characters had matured. “The queen is now a reigning monarch instead of a young girl given this position,” Balfe explained. “It’s a different journey for them and that’s why the music evolves.”
Season 2 saw many scandals. The queen deals with marital issues, and Princess Margaret causes a media frenzy when she publishes a photo of herself naked in the newspapers. Plus, the country is in crisis at The Suez Canal, which forces Prime Minister Anthony Eden to resign.
Balfe said, “the soundtrack only exists to support the dialogue.” However, that isn’t wholly true. The score makes every moment of The Crown much more intense and emotional. Without it, the series would hardly be what it is.