Music in the Mix

One of the most satisfying parts of what I do is folding music into the mix. A scene or an intro or a tag without music usually feels flat. Music not only sets the tone of a scene, it fills out the narrative both in time and space, gives the tale time to tell itself. I can suspect all through the editing process which pieces of music I’ll use – I hope to say I can – but I don’t lay music in until the very end, using it to tie the segments and elements together, to provide a graceful way out of a section and into the next, to open a passage in the narrative for a reflective “meadow,” to place punctuation after a statement.

And most importantly for me, music makes visuals take to the air and become three-dimensional. It gives polish, smooths edges and helps propel the story. It colors, shades, twists or lends ambiguity. It anchors the program in a viewer’s memory.

My great, good fortune in making this all work is my long friendship with composer Carl Michel, a holder of two regional Emmys for his work in Storytellers documentaries since 2003. I’ve known him for over 43 years, since 8th grade back in Minnesota, and most of what we’ve done together – even in 1966 – was centered around music.

Two of his latest pieces, which I used throughly in this month’s new episode of Doris O’Donnell’s Cleveland, are below. Lest I Forget and Le Metro Waltz, I think, represent the artist capturing a mood I was seeking, but on top of that, the pieces also remind me of an ephemeral time I spent in Paris long ago; such are the added benefits of this long-standing collaborative spirit that I get in the bargain. These tunes are simply beautiful.

Another benefit of commissioning Carl to do such fine work is that I get to name the tunes; Ladies & Gents, The Carl Michel Group:

Lest I Forget
©2008 Carl Michel
Le Metro Waltz
©2008 Carl Michel
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