Anyone who has watched Legion walks around sort of wide-eyed, demanding that acquaintances get caught up so they can talk about it. The series’ masterstroke is placing viewers within the subjective experiences of its mutant protagonists, leading to some of this year’s most interesting television via high-concept writing, nuanced performances, and adventurous cinematography. But don’t sleep on its music, which ranges from vintage synthesizer warbles to eerie ambient shrieks and everything in between. A new interview on The Daily Dot with show composer Jeff Russo digs into how it’s done.
Russo says the music is intended to set people off balance, using key changes and dissonance that viewers may not even notice on a conscious level. They drew inspiration from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, even going so far as to purchase the same synthesizer used on that album, an element that helps add to the series’ weird, out-of-joint sense of era. Things fit together musically, but never the way you expect, with subtle shifts in key, mood, and instrumentation throwing the viewer off-kilter. Russo goes on:
The idea was how to make it sound like what a hallucination might sound like. Noah actually had me read this book called Hallucinations, and it was very informative. There’s a big section of the book on auditory hallucinations, and what someone who’s having one might hear. So we talked about how to make it feel like you don’t know what’s real and what’s not.
I’d try to make pieces that you didn’t know where the beginning was and where the end would be. If you listen to it from the middle, you wouldn’t know where you were in the piece. And if you listened to it from the beginning, you never expected an ending.
You can read the whole piece, which goes into much more detail about Russo’s methods and working with series creator Noah Hawley, here.