Creator David Lynch shares the unique process to creating the iconic theme music for Twin Peaks. First airing in April 1990, Twin Peaks was a serial mystery drama series following the aftermath of a homecoming queen’s murder in the eerie town of Twin Peaks, Washington. The score for the series was composed by Angelo Badalamenti in partnership with Lynch, and the main theme “Falling” by Julee Cruise has since become an iconic part of television music history.
In an interview with BBC, Lynch reflected on his decades-long partnership with Badalamenti until the composer’s death this past December. The three-time Oscar nominee looked back on the unique process the two had in creating Twin Peaks‘ iconic theme music, detailing how it largely stemmed from playing off of one another’s feelings more than anything else. Check out Lynch’s full breakdown below:
Well the main theme of Twin Peaks is Falling. And Falling was a thing Angelo and I wrote and Julee Cruise sang it. We wrote that before, when Twin Peaks was just a dream, only in the beginnings, and I said you guys, this thing is going to be the theme of this show. And they looked at me like, are you crazy? How it always works with Angelo and me, I know the mood of a thing and the feel of a thing. So, sitting with Angelo, I sit next to him on a bench or close to him always, and I say, “Angelo it’s gotta have this kind of a feel”. And he closes his eyes and he plays something, and then I say, “no it’s gotta be lower, or slower, or more mystery in there”, and then he starts playing something else. And then I say, “no that’s still too fast, it’s not dark enough, it’s not heavy and foreboding enough”. And then he starts playing something, and it all just comes over him, and I say “that’s beautiful Angelo”, and I try to psychically pull out the next stuff. But because he caught the first thing, then in the world of music it’s logical that these other things follow, and he knows that and there they are and he brings them out, and there it is – no two ways about it.
The Legacy of Twin Peaks’ Music
While Twin Peaks received mass critical acclaim for everything from its effects to its casting, the series’ music has been described as “the summit of TV soundtracks.” Badalamenti would go on to win a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for the Twin Peaks soundtrack in 1991, as well as receiving three other Grammy nominations for the series in 1990. Though Badalamenti is credited as the composer for Twin Peaks, Lynch directly helped to create many songs for the series, including “Falling.”
Twin Peaks may have come to an end in 1992, but it continued with the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me that debuted after the series’ finale, albeit serving primarily as a prequel. Additionally, Showtime produced a Twin Peaks revival in 2017, occasionally subtitled “The Return,” that saw widespread acclaim and solid ratings for the cable network. Badalamenti’s iconic themes returned in the revival, along with unreleased music from his and Lynch’s studio album “Thought Gang.” At its peak, the soundtrack for the Twin Peaks revival series hit No. 13 on Billboard’s Soundtrack Albums list.
Music is vastly important to any movie or TV series, and the eerie sounds created by Badalamenti and Lynch for Twin Peaks are no exception. However, Lynch’s process to creating sounds for the series is incredibly unique, based more on feeling and mood than on actual musical notation. While the series’ main run may have been over three decades ago, Badalamenti and Lynch’s soundtrack is one of the key reasons Twin Peaks remains a memorable and iconic mystery series.