Troy Sterling Nies once again delivered a fantastic musical score for this episode, which Sean and Andrew shamefully proceeded to alter with editing. We asked Troy to say a few words about his artistic process in writing the music for Dark Adventure Radio Theatre, and this is what he had to say.
“In earlier episodes of DART I frequently employed the use of the 12-tone row technique. After several episodes of not using this technique (MON and BOB were leitmotif and thematically driven), I returned to it for the entirety of this episode. This technique was in vogue at the time — 1919 through 1950s — and returning again in the 1980s as heard in many composers' toolkits for TV series. It was originally created by Josef Matthias Hauer and really made prominent by Schoenberg. Composers such as Bartok, Stravinsky, Scriabin and many others adopted it into their compositions in some form or another. It really found its place in the scores of many early films and made popular by film composers in the 1950s. Every cue in this episode is based on the row: E G Bb Db C A Gb Ab B D F Eb, its inversion, its retrograde and retrograde inversions. This is used quite incessantly to give a sense of persistent dread as the row is based on the minor 3rd and presents in cluster chords of 3 or 4 (E G Bb), (Gb Ab B), (D F Eb). The first four tones of the row are used as the majority of the harmonic anchor E minor diminished 7. It is heard in various incarnations throughout the woodwind section but most dominantly in the contrabassoon and bassoon supported by bass clarinet, clarinet and oboe. Strings appear scarcely in this score and serve as a sonic garnish. Brass appear as extra weight under the woodwinds to further deepen darker sections of the episode. Percussion is scarce as well this time around, with timpani often doubling the trombones as a tremolo low grind at times.
“The instrumentation in this episode was largely woodwind based which historically has been paired with muted brass giving a nasal quality and a unique sonic palette. While some identify muted brass as "urban" sounding because of jazz associations, it was used originally to reduce volume in the orchestra against wind ensembles and to cut back on the cutting nature when used in the film scores of the early 1950s.
“I arranged sections of P. Domenico Paradies’ (1712–1735) piece SONATE (No. 10) for harpsichord during the Gifford diary entries to give an aural setting of the Dutch Colonial period which historically musically was in the thick of the Baroque period. Harpsichord, recorder and small string ensemble ruled the parlor and stage. This era was known to be a deliberate departure by many composers of any intent of emotional use and more about form and formality. Any intimation of mood was not implied and while the modern ear may associate a piece in a minor key as ‘sad’ or a major as ‘happy’ this was not the intent at the time and was used more as a structural delineator in multi-movement pieces. For our purposes, the D Major opening to Paradies' Sonate serves as a triumphant sounding backdrop to Gifford's elation of the end to the French-Indian war. Interestingly. the Dutch were basically dead musically during this period (exception Jan Van Eyck). I guess they were too busy painting. And colonizing.
“This was certainly more of a cerebral score and deliberately so on my part. To my mind’s eye, this was a much more concentrated and smaller episode in scope compared to our recent behemoths such as MON and BOB. This certainly called for a more intimate ensemble so I shifted gears entirely and decided to compose for a smaller chamber ensemble — much like what was used in the early years of radio show recording and the silver screen. The lower register of the orchestra has always sounded ‘earthy’ and ‘organic’ to me — even scary ever since childhood. An early influence on my perception and personal view on purposeful and appropriate use of the woodwinds and low brass comes from an old vinyl record I still have: International House of Pancakes presents Captain Kangaroo reads ‘Peter and the Wolf’. I’ll never forget the sound of the bassoon, clarinet and French horns in that performance.
“The 12 tone row — my trusty old compositional tool, returns in this episode. In itself, it sounds meandering and forever advancing in unexpected directions. The lower register woodwinds coupled with lower register brass and especially the deep growl of the contrabassoon, was my way of creating an aural manifestation of The Lurking Fear. I hope you enjoy!” — Troy Sterling Nies, June 25th, 2019.