Chernobyl composer Hildur Guðnadóttir interview

marclawsonmusic

Senior Member
What a great score - perfectly minimal and ominous and subtle - works great with the visuals on this show. Even the synths, which are so cliche' these days, work great... you can almost feel the radiation flow through you when an edgy synth pulses on TV. Great stuff!
 
OP
timprebble

timprebble

Sound designer, Composer, Sound library developer
Oh, come on. I like the score (what I can hear anyway). Could have used more music than sound design but whatever.
Dont sweat it...
And its not like we dont hear enough about all the godawful maximilist 'epic' scores....

The key aspect I really appreciated of this score was that it wasn't sign posting, you felt the fear & the dread without having your intelligence insulted... Great to see a director who has enough confidence to not spoon feed the audience
 
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givemenoughrope

Senior Member
I’m definitely no fan of modern epic but personally find over reliance of sound design kinda boring (unless it’s also used in a ‘thematic’ way, and maybe this is and I just didn’t catch it). I don’t like being hit over the head and being told how to feel (unless it calls for it) so I avoid those kinds of films/TV but I also miss motifs and sonorities that drive a narrative. I think those things can exist and be every bit as subtle as whats happening here. I’d be curious to know how much of the sounds recorded at the plant had been pitched and shaped spectrally. That sounds like a great approach for something really cool.

That interview deserved to be ‘Tapped’, cmon.
 
OP
timprebble

timprebble

Sound designer, Composer, Sound library developer
I’m definitely no fan of modern epic but personally find over reliance of sound design kinda boring (unless it’s also used in a ‘thematic’ way, and maybe this is and I just didn’t catch it). I don’t like being hit over the head and being told how to feel (unless it calls for it) so I avoid those kinds of films/TV but I also miss motifs and sonorities that drive a narrative. I think those things can exist and be every bit as subtle as whats happening here.

That interview deserved to be ‘Tapped’, cmon.
Fair enough re lack of motifs etc, that is your taste... Specifically this series, I wouldn't know who did what - apart from the composer there was a sound designer/effects editor on the series (Joe Beal) who would also I presume have inherited the recordings from Chris Watson, so where you may feel there is a lack of score or an over reliance on sound design may actually just be a final mix choice by the director and rerecording mixers. We will never know... I loved the part where she mentioned finding a melody in part of a door creak - I do this myself a lot, putting some takes from sound FX recording sessions aside because they contain naturally occurring interesting musical elements/rhythms etc... and are worth pursuing/developing

but sorry I have zero idea what you're getting at with the Spinal Tap ('tapped?') bizo...
Saw the film a few decades ago, remember something about their amps going up to 11
What are you on about exactly? You seem to be specifically inferring we all should be aware of some aspect of it...
but it seems it only bugs you... do you mean this somehow?

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Spinal Tapped
 
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givemenoughrope

Senior Member
I’m not saying that approach would have worked here (or that it isn’t actually happening here and I just failed to hear it) just that I’d like to hear that as opposed the either/or of only ‘epic’ or ‘minimal’/sound design.

The vague answer ‘we were listening to the sound of the building’ reminded me of the ST clip but then again about 25% of life occurences can be found or referenced therein.
 

FrontierSoundFX

Dan Warneke: Sound Designer & Audio Engineer
incredible mini series. I love the score for it too. I think it conveys something inhumane...and out of human control...
What a fantastic approach to the design though. There is a beauty in the sounds coming organically from the environment in which the events take place. This series has been real good about making my skin crawl every time someone finds out they have to go to the plant.
 

ionian

Member
Wow...I've been watching this series and I didn't even realize there was a score! I mean I guess you can say it's successful because it never brings attention to itself. But if you would have asked me, I would have told you there was no score.

The story is really engaging so I guess I'm more wrapped up in that and there's nothing probably really memorable about the score if it sounds more like sound design and omnisphere patches.

That's still more preferable than a score that constantly distracts you by always saying, "look at me!"

I am looking forward to the series finale tomorrow and I'm not distracting myself trying to listen for a score. I'll go watch them again later and listen for it.
 

Guy Rowland

Senior Member
I’m definitely no fan of modern epic but personally find over reliance of sound design kinda boring (unless it’s also used in a ‘thematic’ way, and maybe this is and I just didn’t catch it). I don’t like being hit over the head and being told how to feel (unless it calls for it) so I avoid those kinds of films/TV but I also miss motifs and sonorities that drive a narrative. I think those things can exist and be every bit as subtle as whats happening here. I’d be curious to know how much of the sounds recorded at the plant had been pitched and shaped spectrally. That sounds like a great approach for something really cool.

That interview deserved to be ‘Tapped’, cmon.
I think your user name comes into play here...

Chernobyl is now the best rated TV series of all time. That’s one thing, what is more surprising is that this is despite being extremely challenging material that is often very difficult to watch. This wasn’t an easy sell, nor a crowd-pleasing proposition. Collectively, the production achieved something really remarkable.

Several have mentioned the feeling of dread that permeates the show, and I’d have to agree with that. Of course that’s a cumulative thing - wring, acting, directing, cimeatogrsphy, production design and more. But central is the score, which is genuinely remarkable. To condense this down to the most misplaced of Spinal Tap references and a discussion of why sound design scores are boring and obvious... well by all means take all the rope you want.

The score will only make sense in context of the film, which is any score’s primary function of course. And those results are pretty extraordinary. Huge respect to Hildur.
 

FrontierSoundFX

Dan Warneke: Sound Designer & Audio Engineer
I think your user name comes into play here...

Chernobyl is now the best rated TV series of all time. That’s one thing, what is more surprising is that this is despite being extremely challenging material that is often very difficult to watch. This wasn’t an easy sell, nor a crowd-pleasing proposition. Collectively, the production achieved something really remarkable.

Several have mentioned the feeling of dread that permeates the show, and I’d have to agree with that. Of course that’s a cumulative thing - wring, acting, directing, cimeatogrsphy, production design and more. But central is the score, which is genuinely remarkable. To condense this down to the most misplaced of Spinal Tap references and a discussion of why sound design scores are boring and obvious... well by all means take all the rope you want.

The score will only make sense in context of the film, which is any score’s primary function of course. And those results are pretty extraordinary. Huge respect to Hildur.

I think it also gets a viewer boost because people are dying to watch something new with their HBO accounts in absence of Game of Thrones. They win on timing for sure.
 

givemenoughrope

Senior Member
I think your user name comes into play here...

Chernobyl is now the best rated TV series of all time. That’s one thing, what is more surprising is that this is despite being extremely challenging material that is often very difficult to watch. This wasn’t an easy sell, nor a crowd-pleasing proposition. Collectively, the production achieved something really remarkable.

Several have mentioned the feeling of dread that permeates the show, and I’d have to agree with that. Of course that’s a cumulative thing - wring, acting, directing, cimeatogrsphy, production design and more. But central is the score, which is genuinely remarkable. To condense this down to the most misplaced of Spinal Tap references and a discussion of why sound design scores are boring and obvious... well by all means take all the rope you want.

The score will only make sense in context of the film, which is any score’s primary function of course. And those results are pretty extraordinary. Huge respect to Hildur.
Right. Ok. For the last time:

The score isn't central to anything here. I can barely hear it and I'm listening, wife begging me to turn it down. Its greatest strength is that there is rarely any actual music here. What is central to the feeling of dread is that this is not The Walking Dead (a goofy premise and show all around) but something that actually happened recently (and is still a mess just watch the drone footage of the area from the last couple years), has happened since to a lesser degree (Fukushima) and almost happened plenty of times (Three Mile Island, etc.) and could easily happen again (earthquake creates tidal wave, people fly plane into, Homer falls asleep, etc.) To say, "We recorded the building" just sounds ridiculous even for a puff piece or interview. I guess I forgot that everything is great and above criticism. (Funny that's what caused the meltdown...)
 

Guy Rowland

Senior Member
Have some more rope, Rope!

You could very easily make an entirely superfluous and rote mini series on Chernobyl. Regardless of what a major historical event it was, good drama is very much not guaranteed (did anyone see Pearl Harbor?). If you can't appreciate the writing, acting, production design (which by the way has been singled out by Russians for praise), directing, sound design, cinematography and - here it is - score, then I genuinely feel sorry for you. Every element of this production exceeds expectation, typically by some margin.

Incidentally I'm daring to hope the exact same team can next make Fukushima. The human story there is equally jaw-dropping.
 

givemenoughrope

Senior Member
Guy, if I didn’t enjoy the show I would have turned it off and moved on to Deadwood or whatever is in the queue. No doubt it is fantastic, doesn’t pull punches or insult the intelligence of the viewer like most tv. So, no need to feel sorry for me (read:condescend). Feel sorry for those puppies instead. Thanks for your help though!