Lyle Workman on Composing for Netflix's 'Love'

I compose the music for the Netflix series, Love.
By Lyle Workman,

I compose the music for the Netflix series, Love. The show is set in Los Angeles, and as I want to underscore the environment with a Latin/Hispanic influence, I often use a family of Mexicanand Spanish-born nylon-string instruments. These include the jarana, requinto, and guitarrón. While the sounds impart an ethnicity, I don’t adhere to pure folk tradition, because I want the music to reflect that Los Angeles is a melting pot.

I have two methods.

My “layered overdubs” music starts with guitar (or other stringed instrument) in hand while I watch specific scenes and write basic foundations. I record to a Pro Tools session running video in tandem. Then, I overdub layers with other guitars, bass, percussion, keys, or whatever each piece calls for.

The “live band” music is not written to a scene, but is composed while thinking of the emotional arc of the show in general, and then recorded with a full band performing together. We rehearse a few times, but we always record everything, just in case magic happens right out of the gate—a common occurrence when ideas are fresh and musicianship is of a high caliber. After these tracks are mixed, a music editor edits the material to fit certain scenes. As you can now hear the music from Netflix’s Love on iTunes, I thought you might enjoy some examples of each approach.

LIVE BAND

“Good Crazy.” I played a 1959 ES-335 through a late ’40s Gibson EH-185 amp. For the solo, I stepped on a Fulldrive 2 Overdrive and kicked in a Leslie simulator patch from the Strymon Mobius. Coguitarist David Hidalgo played a Strat straight into a tiny Top Hat combo with an 8" speaker—once again proving that a minimal setup in the hands of a gifted musician is all that’s needed.

“Gus” This piece had Val McCallum on second guitar, playing a mid-’60s Jaguar into a ’60s Fender Princ eton. I noticed a raspiness in my tone, which I later found out was due to a ripped speaker. But I love that Gibson EH-185 so much that I let it pass, and I recorded the whole day with it.

LAYERED OVERDUBS

“Love Theme.” For the heavy riffs, I layered several tracks with a 1998 ’59 Historic Les Paul and a Fender Princeton. I changed fuzz pedals after each pass to get a wide, beefy tone. I used a ’60s Univox Super Fuzz, a Catalinbread Manx Loaghtan, and a Death by Audio Apocalypse. The clean rhythm was a ’50s Tele into a Fender Deluxe Reverb. I used an EBS MultiComp for a little more spank.

“Fanarlito’s Way.” The clean arpeggio at the top is a Rick Turner Baritone, an EBS Multi Comp, the Strymon Mobius’ VB-2 vibrato patch, and a Catalinbread Echorec routed to my trusty Fender Princeton. The driving electrics in the middle section are a ’66 Gibson Trini Lopez into a Divided By Thirteen 9/16 head and a Vox AC30 cabinet. I mic my amps and cabs with a Royer 121 and acShure SM57, two ’70s Quad Eight mic preamps, and two Purple M77 rack compressors.

“Shelter,” “Blu-Ray Guy,” and “What If I Do Amazing?” These were written on a jarana—a small acoustic instrument native to Mexico that’s strung with 8 strings in five courses. The string relationships are similar to a guitar, tuning-wise, but are transposed higher. Playing familiar chord shapes made it easy to get a harmonious sound instantly. The instrument is designed for flamenco-style strumming, but I found it compelling for fingerpicking.

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