The emotive soundtrack to the dramatic mystery thriller motion picture Where the Crawdads Sing, by Oscar and Emmy award-winning film composer Mychael Danna, is now available on Decca Records. The 3000 Pictures film is based on Delia Owens’ hugely popular novel, directed by Olivia Newman from a screenplay by Lucy Alibar, and produced by Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter.
Danna is widely revered for his highly original scores that blend non-western traditions with orchestral and electronic music. He composed the Oscar and Golden Globe-winning soundtrack for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, and noted scores for Moneyball, Capote, Pixar’s Onward, Monsoon Wedding, Little Miss Sunshine, (500) Days of Summer, The Ice Storm, Girl Interrupted, and numerous others.
The album also includes Taylor Swift’s brand new, original song “Carolina,” which the 11-time Grammy-winner wrote with producer Aaron Dessner, inspired to offer it to the filmmakers by her love of the novel.
The musical accompaniment to Where the Crawdads Sing called for unusual instrumentation to capture the sound of the marsh that is central to the storyline. Danna worked with a musician who collects shells, conches, and other natural marine musical instruments and set about matching their sonic effects with the traditional musical instruments of North Carolina, where the story is set, including banjo, fiddle and autoharp.
“One of the major characters in this story is the setting: the marshes of North Carolina,” says Danna. “Kya grows up here in the marsh, it is her life, her love, and her study. It was vital to Livi [Olivia Newman] and me to center the music in the natural world that suffuses virtually every frame of this film, as the marsh is at the heart of Kya and at the heart of the story.”
Reflects Newman: “As a composer, Mychael is one of the best in the world at creating textured, evocative scores that throw the moving image into stunning relief. And Where The Crawdads Sing is no exception – its unique instrumentation creates haunting melodies that are directly inspired by the North Carolina marshlands, and meticulously crafted to foster an almost fable-like sense of time and place.”
Producer Reese Witherspoon says of Swift’s “Carolina”: “She’s a beautiful songwriter who understands so much about folk and country music, and it’s her appreciation of those genres that made the song so perfect for this film. And who doesn’t love a gorgeous, haunting Taylor Swift song?”
The superstar used era-appropriate instruments for a story set in 1969, also recording the song in one take and capturing the spirit of Kya, the lead character, who “always lived on the outside, looking in,” as Swift puts it. “I wrote this one alone in the middle of the night and then Aaron Dessner and I meticulously worked on a sound that we felt would be authentic to the moment in time when this story takes place. I made a wish that one day you would hear it.”