Composer Nicholas Brittel talks to Song Exploder about how he discovered the theme to Moonlight:
On what drew him to Moonlight:
When I first read [the script], I was just overwhelmed by this feeling of beauty and poetry, that was really the starting point for my personal experience with the film. There was just this incredible sense of beauty and of sensitivity and tenderness and intimacy in the screenplay. What was amazing to me when I first saw the early cuts of the film after it was shot was how well Barry had preserved that feeling of poetry in the movie.
My first emotional reaction to the film was that sense of poetry. I actually was saying to myself, What is the musical analog of poetry? Among the first things I sent to Barry was a piece of music I wrote that I called “Piano and Violin Poem,” because I was sort of trying to channel this idea — that actually [turned into] Little’s theme.
When it comes to the Academy Awards tomorrow night, La La Land will probably win for best score (and most other categories) but Moonlight’s score is in fact musical poetry — deserves rememberi
As the composer manipulates the sound itself, algorithmically dropping the pitch and in other ways reworking Little’s theme, refracting it so it’s almost but not quite unrecognizeable, we hear memory itself grinding gears, struggling to process the emotions it stirs up.
The only flaw in the score, sez me, is that the official version doesn’t include “Hello Stranger,” the classic R&B song with which the story concluduesa. So I”m including it here.