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Puzzling Diseases – And How to Compose Music for Them

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Talk about an intriguing project! For the HLN news network’s 6-part documentary “Something’s Killing Me,” Stephen Arnold Music was tasked with the unusual challenge of creating a musical score that accompanies stories about diseases and symptoms that result in near-death struggles for the victims. It’s depicts a race against time to discover what, or who is killing the victim. This series, from the CNN Original Series Development team, was dramatically hosted by renowned actor BD Wong.

Now for the tough part – what would be an appropriate musical metaphor for this emotionally demanding documentary? Hmmm…the sound of a ticking clock…the suspense…the race against time. It certainly reflected the high-stakes content, and laid the groundwork for a compelling composition with film noir-style “thriller” strings and a haunting sound design. All in all, it added up to a carefully crafted, appropriate sonic brand for this project.

“With a program launch, it’s our responsibility to set the tone for its content, and instantly engage the audience so they’ll want to experience the show,” explains Chad Cook, Vice President, Creative for Stephen Arnold Music. “You need to literally grab the audience’s attention and be compelling – right away. That’s why one of the most important elements of the show package is the music for the tease, open, and returning from break segments: those cues reinforce the show’s sonic brand, and capture the viewer’s attention.”

Let’s face it. Some projects are easier than others. But with high-risk challenges like “Something’s Killing Me,” also comes high rewards. You can also see many of Stephen Arnold Music’s other recent efforts on our new website here. Check it out. You’ll see the wide range of sonic branding challenges we solve for our clients – every day.

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