JUNE 6, 2006

Throughout the season, Music Producer Elliot Lurie will be taking us through the process by which each episode's music is chosen. To kick things off, we sat with Elliot to discuss some of the basic elements in supervising music for a hit show like The 4400...

What is the process for selecting the music for each episode?
Occasionally a specific song is indicated in the script. If so, we begin the rights clearance process immediately. More often, I'll analyze the early script for potential song spots and begin thinking about it. When I get the first cut of the show, I'll hone in, identifying song spots and begin the search.

How do you go about choosing the music?
When I've identified the spots, specific songs will sometimes come to mind. I'll put those songs in my computer and run them with the picture to see if they work as I thought they would. Then I'll spend a lot of time listening to things; new releases, artists who I think will fit the show, songs that lyrically express the emotion of the scene in question. I'll do this without actually referring back to the picture until I have some contenders. Then it's back to the computer.

After I've made my choices I'll send the contenders, laid up against the scene, to the executive producers for their input. Hopefully they will agree on one of my submissions. If they do, we begin clearance. If not, back to the drawing board.

Do you ever have to sacrifice a song because it is too expensive, or unavailable?
We have a reasonable budget for The 4400. But some artists simply do not license their work for film and/or TV.

Do you believe that picking "up and coming" bands or artists holds any more value than choosing classic well known songs?
The song must work for the scene. If you can successfully use a hot new band, it's a bonus.

Do directors ever request specific music for a scene?
As I mentioned, sometimes specific songs are included in the script.

Why is music so important in a scene?
There are two kinds of song uses: source and song score. The former refers to songs used in scenes where they would be emanating from a radio or stereo. These choices need to be appropriate to the characters who are listening and to the environment in which they are listening to them.

Song score is used to underline the emotional content of a scene. These are trickier as all the elements tempo, lyric, instrumentation, vocal quality need to embellish the images. When it works it can add a powerful element to the action on screen and provide a subtext that is different and potentially more resonant than that provided by instrumental underscore.

Who are some of your favorite artists/composers?
I think our composers on The 4400, Jon Van Tongeren and Claude Foisy, do a great job.

You've worked on several films. What are some of your favorite music choices?

I worked on Say Anything and when John Cusack hoists that boombox and blasts "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel, it's pretty great.

What are some of the other shows that you think have a great score to them, and why?
I especially like the music choices on The Sopranos. They use such a wide variety of genres and periods but it all seems to work.

For a complete rundown of songs from the first two seasons, check out The 4400 Song List.


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