The shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is a timeless terror, but the visual would have never been the same without the filmmaker’s creepy score. The same can be said for “Teen Wolf,” and for every severed arm or pool of blood the show offers up, viewers know that the ominous trills and screeches that accompany these images are half the reason they’re compelled to cover their eyes.
The show’s composer, Dino Meneghin, recently told Remote Control all about his process of making each scene more horrifying than the last through music. Read all about his method, and watch one of the scenes he’s proudest of below!
You’ve played music for everyone from Josh Groban to Liz Phair. How did you wind up composing for “Teen Wolf”?
I had been working as a guitar player — touring and making records — and in 2007, I started doing some library music. I was recording pieces that would be licensed to different shows on MTV or VH1. In 2009, I ended up working on “Taking The Stage” as a music producer. Laura Webb was the music supervisor, and when she got the call to do “Teen Wolf,” I was on the road with Michael Bublé. She asked me to submit some stuff, and then, like, four months later, I got the call that Jeff Davis had liked my reel and wanted to talk to me. That was the end of 2010, and I started the show in January 2011.
How was working on “Taking The Stage” different from your “Teen Wolf” job?
For “Taking The Stage,” I would do everything from helping the kids write their songs to helping them record them. I was the musical Swiss Army Knife. What I enjoy about writing for “Teen Wolf” is that it covers a lot of ground — we can go everywhere from comedy to dark stuff, and I have to say, I like doing the dark stuff. Horror movies have some of the best music, and musicians love to do it. Nobody who’s completely healthy volunteers to do this for a living.
How do you prepare for the darker tones?
I sit in a room with black candles.
What is the process of putting the music to the show?
First, the editors will work with temporary music from past seasons while cutting an episode. And when they get close to a final cut, I’ll watch it online and make notes about timing and everything through the episode. And then we go home and start to work — we usually have a week to deliver between 30 and 35 minutes of music for an episode. As soon as we get stuff done, we upload it, the editors make notes and we’ll make those changes. Then, it goes in the show.
How do you approach different types of scenes musically?
All of our different characters have themes — there’s a hunter theme that I really like, Allison has her own theme and Stiles has a comedy motif. Every season, we sort of assemble a new palette of sounds that becomes identifiable with the show. Before each season, my assistant Will and I will essentially hole up and make noise.
What changes can we expect between Seasons 2 and 3?
I would like for Season 3 to be a little more orchestral — we’ve had a hybrid score so far; a lot of electronics. And I love doing it, but we did a lot last season and I’d like to have a little more acoustic feel. Sometimes, I’ll go out with another composer friend of mine, and we’ll take junk from junkyards or auto salvage spots and record ourselves banging on them, and those sounds get used throughout this season. Another favorite sound that you’ll hear this season is a dog from our obedience class howling, and that became very sinister.
Is there a particular moment or scene that you’re proud of?
Episode 10 from last season nearly killed all of us. We worked very hard on it and did a lot of revision — that was one of the biggest musical episodes. One of my favorite scenes was when the hunters attack the police compound. It was just big and loud and action-filled. Then, when Matt is telling his story about drowning, that was a fun one to do.
Any shameless gossip from set?
I was down on the set two days ago, and I can tell you it’s a whole lot of fun. There’s some big stuff happening. A whole lot of people getting killed. I was trying to wrangle myself on there to get killed, but it hasn’t happened yet.
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Photo: Thomas Mikusz