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, and 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 StoryWorks.TV documentaries in 2003 and 2009, and a veteran of both the West Bank School of Music and Berklee College of Music. I’ve known him since 8th grade back in Minnesota, and most of what we’ve done together – beginning in 1966 – was centered around music in some way.
Carl Michel’s music represents a significant element of StoryWorks.TV’s documentaries: his work drew the first Emmy™ for StoryWorks.TV, in 2004 for the musical score of Dusk & Shadow – The Mystery of Beverly Potts. Our partnership began a year earlier, when Carl allowed me to mine his two album releases for the music to The Fourteenth Victim – Eliot Ness and the Torso Murders – itself nominated for two Emmys – and the fit was so good I begged & pleaded to let me do the same for Dusk & Shadow. In addition, he wrote several new pieces for Dusk based on some specs I gave him – and I promptly stepped out of the way to let him get his genius on. Since then he’s written several themes, stingers and long-forms, both for the “Doris O’Donnell’ Cleveland” series and for a future release called Broken Rosary – The Frank Dolezal Affair. In 2009 Carl earned yet another Emmy™ as Composer for a Doris episode entitled Rosie the Reporter. He’s just that good. I could overthink it all and maybe share with you a dozen musical influences in Carl’s work, but what I really hear is a dear old friend who writes and plays with the rounded, fulsome sound of of a true original.
Here is one of my very favorites, used in the Doris O’Donnell’s Cleveland series – sweet, melodic, evocative of nostalgia, with fully realized musical expressions making complete thoughts from a couple angles. One of the perks Carl allows me is coming up with names of the tunes he writes for StoryWorks.TV, and this one I called “Lest I Forget” — by The Carl Michael Group, composed by Carl Michel:
–Mark Wade Stone