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It Is Happening Again

33 1/3 fans, 11:30 AM, February 24th. Clare Nina Norelli, the author behind the first soundtrack in the 33 1/3 series, tells us more about her journey beyond the Douglas firs. She tells us more about her decision to pitch a soundtrack to our open call and the importance of celebrating Badalamenti’s ongoing musical legacy.

When I first encountered the distinct 33 1/3 series in the bookshop wilds, I knew that one day I very much wanted to write one. I’d written various pieces about film music online, and studied Musicology, but aside from my university dissertation I’d never written a long-form exploration of a particular composer, musician or work. In 2015 I moved to the other side of Australia and found myself with some extra time for a new creative project. After seeing a blog post for an open call for the next batch of their esteemed series, I figured if I was ever going to submit a proposal, now was the time!

Initially, I had thought of pitching one of my favourite rock albums (Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins; Strange Days by The Doors, for example, the latter of which I ended up being able to write about for the 33 1/3 publication, The 33 1/3 B-Sides). But then I thought to myself, what about a soundtrack? Film and TV soundtracks are so often gateways into new auditory terrains. Through soundtracks we discover new artists or find ourselves falling in love with a particular song or track because it reminds us of a beloved character or scene. Sometimes the soundtrack even becomes more popular than the film or TV show it was inspired by.

Angelo Badalamenti and his frequent creative collaborator, cult filmmaker David Lynch.

The 33 1/3 series had never published a volume on a soundtrack, so I thought I’d take a chance and pitch one that had been very influential on my own work as a composer and musician, Angelo Badalamenti’s beautifully bittersweet Soundtrack from Twin Peaks. It just so happened that a Twin Peaks reboot had been recently announced with its original co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost at the helm, and Angelo Badalamenti was on board to compose new music. I expected that this development would give weight to my proposal, as the show and its popular soundtrack would be returning to the cultural discourse. Added to this, there were no books written solely about Twin Peaks’ music or Badalamenti himself, and Twin Peaks fans are a dedicated bunch who like to ponder and consume all things related to the show!

Soundtrack from Twin Peaks is intrinsically linked to its images, but it is still a very strong album in its own right. Initially, I thought a journalistic approach would suffice. Perhaps I would interview key artists involved in the recording of the soundtrack, and provide a ‘behind the scenes’ account of the making of the album? But then, this wasn’t a stand-alone album; the music was attached to a television show and responded to its storytelling and visuals. I decided my approach would be to explore how images are heightened through the show’s soundtrack. What does Badalamenti’s music do for the show’s narrative and character development? What is it about Badalamenti’s music that is so powerful that, despite Twin Peak’s iconic dialogue and imagery, it is able to function in isolation and be listened to solely for pleasure?

Of course, Badalamenti’s collaborative process with cult filmmaker Lynch was also fascinating to explore and elaborate upon, a truly unique creative partnership that the composer discusses in a popular short video of the composer creation of one of the soundtrack’s most memorable pieces, “Laura Palmer’s Theme.”

I loved going back and re-watching the show in its entirety solely for the purpose of taking notes about its soundtrack. It was so much fun charting the evolution of themes and motifs, and seeing the surprising ways they were reinterpreted and recycled. With the way I decided to structure my book it wasn’t necessary that I speak to any of the original soundtrack collaborators, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t regret speaking with Maestro Badalamenti. Sadly, in December 2022, the much loved composer passed away at the age of 85. It is my hope that my book does justice to Badalamenti’s wonderful musical legacy, and that it helps, at least in some small way, to cultivate further awareness and discussion of his beautifully dark compositions.

Clare Nina Norelli

is an Australian writer and musician based in Melbourne who holds degrees in composition and musicology from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). She has composed music for ensembles and film, and her writing has appeared in publications such as Sound Scripts and SCAN: Journal of Media and Arts Culture.

Angelo Badalamenti’s Soundtrack from Twin Peaks is available to buy in bookshops and online (including at Bloomsbury.com).

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