Composer Gudnadottir on scoring “Chernobyl” TV series, using field recordings from nuclear plant

Posted on: July 2, 2019

The “stunning success” of the HBO series Chernobyl “owes much to Hildur Gudnadottir’s evocative score, as discomfiting as the tragic history or political malevolence on screen,” writes Robert Moran in Saturday’s (6/29) The Age (Melbourne, Australia). “To match the script’s aversion to ‘making up fairy tales’ about the 1986 catastrophe, Gudnadottir captured field recordings—the eerie ambience across vast corridors and turbine holds, the ominous rattle of a Geiger counter—in the same decommissioned nuclear plant in Lithuania where the series was filmed…. [Says Gudnadottir,] ‘It took more time than if I’d … written … a violin suite to dramatize the story of these people losing their sons in Chernobyl, but it felt the story needed something from the place itself…. There’s been a tendency to think that TV music has to be cheap and fast and for films it has to be nothing but orchestral music, but it’s not right…. The jarring score, with its emphasis on sound-building over orchestration, has provoked strong reactions…. Gudnadottir … just handed in her score for the upcoming DC blockbuster Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, a work she describes as … ‘pretty much as different from Chernobyl as it could possibly be.’

Posted July 2, 2019