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October 16, 2013

Trevor Morris is the Go-To for Music of the Ages

Thanks to his work on Showtime programs The Tudors and The Borgias, composer Trevor Morris is king when it comes to music for period stories.

Libby Slate
  • Trevor Morris

Trevor Morris didn’t plan on becoming the go-to composer for period television, but it’s worked out that way.

He won a Primetime Emmy in 2007 for his main title for Showtime’s The Tudors and a second statuette in 2011 for the main title of the network’s The Borgias

He garnered a nomination this year as well for his score for The Borgias, his fifth overall. And he’s working on his second season of History’s Vikings and the new NBC series Dracula, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and set in Victorian England.

“I attribute it to The Tudors — it put me on the map,” says Morris, who grew up in London, Ontario, and began composing in school at 13. 

“We reinvented the costume drama, turned it on its ear with a modern take on things.”

Indeed, for Dracula, he says, “The mantra given me was to be edgy and modern.” To Morris, that means using electronic instruments exclusively. 

“How do I tell the story with a character and musical vernacular that are so well known?” he reasons. “There’s never been a non-orchestral Dracula score. So texturally, you already have a modern feel.”

Whatever the project and the period — he also scored ABC's Body of Proof and 666 Park Avenue this past season — Morris’s approach, he says, “is almost always the same. i try to start with an idea, visualize what the music should look like. 

Music has a feel, a texture, a color: is it furry, rusty, saturated or not? Then I come up with a melodic idea: is it for a person, an idea, an ambition? I try to find the narrative. Then I do the work.”

Almost all his work is done at the “dream studio” Morris built in Santa Monica, California, a stunning space that features not only state-of-the-art equipment but a wine fridge and a pool table.

“We work so hard — hours and hours,” he says. “It’s nice, at the end of the day, to play pool and have a glass of wine.” 







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