Available as a digital album, John Debney and Tony Morales’ score for the 3-part TV mini-series is heavily acoustic, featuring a variety of guitars and fiddles, banjos, and organic percussion blended with slightly contemporary scoring sounds (of which the most obvious are the odd thunderous percussion and occasional string accompaniment).
Designed to evoke the misty, insular world of the Appalachian mountains, the rustic rhythms capture the deep dimensions of the lengthy feud and clash divisions between the two extended families.
Whether it’s simple guitar strumming or a group of acoustic guitarists performing a kinetic texture of rhythms, the music flows naturally from cue to cue, with periodic vocal accompaniment from Lisbeth Scott accentuating the impossible romance between younger family members on opposite sides, or functioning as a lament for the unending series of tragedies which spark even deadlier acts of retribution. (Scott also performs the score’s closing song, “I Know These Hills,” with Kevin Costner, who released a separate music-from-and-inspired-by song album featuring original sings by Costner and his Modern West band.)
Debney and Morales never allow their central theme and variations to become melodramatic, and within the mini-series the music is very strategic in the way it quietly emerges from within the sound mix before it discretely fades away. Most of the cues tend to run under 2 minutes, and any theme recap tends to accentuate the depth of tragedy as both music and film narratives reach their fairly depressing conclusion.
This is a deceptively simple score, and those affected by the film’s story will vividly relive the drama through Debney and Morales’ excellent music, beautifully recorded and engineered to accentuate the musicians’ intimate performance style.
Also available: a 2012 interview with co-composer Tony Morales, and a 2013 interview with co-composer John Debney.
© 2012 Mark R. Hasan