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TV Goodness Reports: An Evening with FX Composers Nathan Barr, James Levine and Jeff Russo 

Photo Credit: CW3PR
Photo Credit: CW3PR

Thursday night, three of FX’s most celebrated composers (and some of our favorite Tuned In Tuesday subjects) participated in the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) panel, “An Evening with FX Composers.” Moderated by SCL President Ashley Irwin, composers Nathan Barr, James Levine and Jeff Russo shared how they broke into the business, their style of working, and some choice tidbits on composing for their shows.

Photo Credit: CW3PR
Photo Credit: CW3PR

Nathan Barr (The Americans) began the evening by discussing his collaboration with The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, on the original song “It Must Be Done.” Barr explained the process of working with Townshend stating, “It was nerve-racking sending Pete Townshend guitar tracks.” When Irwin asked if they were taken out of the final cut, Nate, surprised by his own answer then stated, “No.. he left them in!” He then talked about his process and pace for scoring The Americans, as well as the technical aspect, “It’s super low tech…Super 80s.”

James Levine (American Horror Story: Coven) shared some clips of his favorite scenes from  American Horror Story: Coven. Irwin noted that the music was crystal clear in the clips and sounded so cinematic. Levine then gestured to Nathan and Jeff saying, “For today I did the composer mix. You don’t need the dialogue, right?” A long time Ryan Murphy collaborator, James joked about how the duo moved from the plastic surgery thriller Nip/Tuck, to a capella singing teenagers on Glee, and back to the dark side with American Horror Story.

Jeff Russo (Fargo) shared clips from Fargo‘s main title and once scene featuring a young Oliver Platt and another scene featuring a troubled Lester Nygaard. Russo explained how he and showrunner, Noah Hawley initially talked about the score needing to have a cinematic feel. In order to do so, they needed a full orchestra, so Jeff Skyped weekly with the orchestra in Prague to review material. Irwin joked with Russo about using sleigh bells in the main title, and Jeff noted that Noah advised him to make it sound cold. “What better way than to use sleigh bells…like we’re dashing through the snow,” Jeff joked as the crowd laughed.

Want to hear more from each composer about their work on these shows?

Our Tuned in Tuesday series has featured Nathan Barr, James Levine and Jeff Russo.

Fargo‘s finale airs Tuesday, June 17th at 10/9c on FX. American Horror Story: Coven and season 2 of The Americans are available on iTunes.

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