How the sounds of 'Succession' shred the grandeur and respect the characters so desperately try to project
The show tells the story of ailing media tycoon Logan Roy and his four horrid children who aim to inherit his empire.
- The show tells the story of ailing media tycoon Logan Roy and his four horrid children who aim to inherit his empire.
- But as a music historian, I will miss the series’ use of music and sound the most.
Corrupting classical music
- Most contemporary political dramas are about corruption, and music is great at progressively turning something seemingly wholesome into something sour.
- It is the composer’s skill in layering the strangeness into the music that makes the difference.
- Britell has described being inspired by European late-18th century music.
- Throughout the show, there are a lot of reality-show-style pans to the faces of characters saying things like “I am excited.” This is their music.
Brood too much and the effect is lost
- Both theme songs make heavy use of the lower strings of violas, cellos and double basses, which further darken the sonic palette.
- At the end of the opening credits of “House of Cards,” you can hear it in the twang of the electric guitar.
- The scores for both “House of Cards” and “Yellowstone” are already dark and twisty to begin with, which makes the “staining” effect harder to pull off.
- This is where Britell’s astute ways of combining brightness and darkness in “Succession’s” music make all the difference.
Hearing what the characters hear
- Sound design indicates the ways in which all sounds, from noises to dialogue and music, are mixed into the soundtrack.
- In the pilot episode, viewers meet Kendall Roy, an eminently slappable finance bro and heir apparent to his father’s company.
- At first the Beastie Boys blare out on the soundtrack; seconds later, their music disappears into Kendall’s headphones, and viewers hear his whiny voice rapping the lyrics.
- The switch from non-diegetic to diegetic in Kendall’s entrance gives viewers a sense that they are spying on his fragile self-delusion.
Haunted by water
- The series that begins with Kendall fittingly ends with him, too, as he walks, in a daze, along the Hudson River.
- The moment Kendall hears the Hudson, everyone understands – first by ear, then by sight – that this story is over.