Monday, June 25, 2012

Richard Strauss among the Vampires

Normally I do not pay too much attention to the music on True Blood. It always seems to be appropriate to the setting, and nothing more strikes me as particularly relevant. Last night, however, we got to know the character Salome Agrippa; and, sure enough, she was the Salome. Her version of the story made for a fascinating departure from Oscar Wilde, not to mention the rather more mundane account that emerges in Robert Graves’ Claudius the God. Nevertheless, this was the first time I found myself consciously aware of what Nathan Barr had composed for the soundtrack. This was because Salome’s lines were backed with the same kind of sinuous chromaticism that Richard Strauss conceived for the “Dance of the Seven Veils” scene in his opera based on Wilde’s play. Barr reworked Strauss just enough to define his own originality, but there was also just enough suggestion to recognize Strauss as the influential source. It was a clever bit of composing, making for the first time in which the soundtrack really contributed a useful perspective to the narrative!

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