While our beloved crime dramedy was absent from this year's San Diego Comic-Con, Castle composer Robert Duncan was on hand for a lively discussion with fellow TV music masterminds, including iZLER from ABC's Revenge and Marc Shaiman from NBC's Smash.
Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with Robert after the panel for an exclusive interview about his now-famous "I Just Want You" score from the Season 4 finale, the direction the music will go in Season 5 as Castle and Beckett evolve as a couple, and his thoughts on a musical episode.
Keep reading for all the behind-the-scenes scoop. Also, keep an eye out for Robert's new show, "Last Resort," which will premiere on ABC this fall!
Wetpaint Entertainment: Let's start by talking about "In My Veins," the song that played in the Season 4 finale as Alexis gave her graduation speech. Were you part of the selection process for that song?
Robert Duncan: The music department is made up of myself, the music editor, and the music supervisor [Tricia Halloran]. Anything that has lyrics is usually Tricia's department, and she'll start working long before I come in. Usually she reads scripts and tries to find some moments and suggests particular songs for certain scenes.
I'm not sure how far in advance she found that song, but it was finalized before I started working on that episode, so I always have to listen to those songs and bridge into score … sometimes I've even had to create intros or extensions to songs just to make it feel like it flows, works in the same key or a compatible key.
Which is a good segue into "I Just Want You," the score for the famous Castle and Beckett make-out scene. How did you create that beautiful piece of music?
That actually worked out really nicely.
When the editor cuts together a show, it's hard to even assemble it without music, because scenes just don't look right. Like, a chase scene can be very strange if it's meant to have music and there's no music. When the editor is cutting the scenes together, he or she will put what's called "temp music," which is pulled from previous shows of Castle or sometimes they'll throw in movie scores, which keeps it interesting.
That scene — the kiss — was temped with a piece of music from last year's finale, which was Montgomery getting shot in the hanger and I thought it was a very curious choice, because it almost had some edge or animosity to it. It translated to me as a ferocity about them coming together. That part worked, with the passion and when they started kissing, but it was missing the love somehow. There was sadness and drama to it, but it didn't have that real connection, that feeling of victory for them finally getting together. And that piece, I sat down and I just played what you hear, right away. I just went with it. It was very much a first instinct reaction to the scene.
Often they'll fall in the love with the temp score, and I'll hand something in and they'll say, "I got attached to what we've been hearing from the various cuts. Can you make it sound more like that?" But there was none of that. It was as pleasant an experience as this job can be. I did something that felt very natural, I sent it in, they loved it, and that was it. It was done.
Fans can't get enough of it. Will you be releasing a full-length version?
I am definitely going to expand it. I know it's a very short clip right now. I have to arrange it, but it's definitely coming.
Were you surprised with the overwhelming response to that score?
A little bit. I posted a little video of it, and I didn't really know, so that's wonderful. That means the world to get that feedback. When you're all by yourself in the studio it's tough to know that anybody is really listening, but they are, and it's great to get that feedback. I appreciate that.
In terms of next season, we've heard that the mood of the show will become more lighthearted now that Castle and Beckett are in a happier place. Do you think the music will change to reflect that?
I'm excited for the first meeting. It will all get discussed, as Rob [Bowman] and Andrew [Marlowe] are very articulate in that detail and they've got all the nuances planned out. And I'll be very excited to find out what I'm tasked with doing. I'm sure themes are going to evolve, and now they have a theme. I'm eager to find out how it's going reprise, but I'm in the dark right now until it's time for music, which will be in late August.
You've said before that you use specific instruments to develop certain characters — like for Castle, you use the African drum called the udu, and it helped to identify him as a playful ladies' man. Now that's he a more mature man, do you think you'll change the way portray him through the music?
That's a good idea. That's a good question. But is he a more mature man?
That is a good question! I think he is …
You know, it happens organically, everything that I write. It has to connect to the picture. As the picture evolves, as the story evolves, the characters evolve, I grow with it. My reaction evolves.
There's a lot of musical talent in the cast — Stana can sing, Nathan can sing. Fans have discussed the idea of a musical episode. What are your thoughts on that?
I'd be all over it! It would be a lot of work, but it would be great. I wasn't involved with Buffy at this time, but the musical episode of Buffy set the bar for everybody.
Lindsay Dreyer is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayNYC.