‘Glass Onion’: Listen to Film’s Opulent and Grand Theme by Composer Nathan Johnson (EXCLUSIVE)

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” composer Nathan Johnson says the key to the film’s score lies in its main theme. “There are different character themes that appear for little moments, and as a piece of music, this embodies what the whole theme is about,” he said.

The highly-anticipated sequel releases theatrically on Nov. 23 and sees Daniel Craig as Detective Benoit Blanc back to solve another whodunnit mystery. His band of suspects includes Janelle Monae, Dave Bautista, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn and Leslie Odom Jr.

Johnson’s filmmaker cousin, director Rian Johnson, called on him to score his sequel that takes place during a weekend getaway on billionaire Miles Bron’s (Edward Norton’s) island.

With an ensemble cast of that size, not only was Johnson able to lean into each character, but he was able to write different motifs for each one. He says, “That ends up being a map through the movie because once you have musical light motifs, that are speaking on behalf of the characters, you have a way to tap into their underlying emotions.”

Johnson adds that while each character had their motifs, the cues were not exclusive: “There was this whole structure that we could play around with this idea of different characters stealing other character’s themes.”

When Norton’s character reveals to his friends he’s staging a murder-mystery weekend and it’s not just a getaway, director Rian Johnson begins to peel back the layers of this social elite group.

Blanc’s theme weaves through the score, but a 70-piece orchestra that recorded the score together at Abbey Road “leans towards opulence and grandness.” Johnson adds, “We bring in the glass. We have the quartet element, and there’s a lot of information happening in the winds and the horns”

For Johnson, it was a chance to expand his palette and throw a bunch of new colors onto the canvas.

One character who makes a big splash is Monae’s Andi, Miles’ former business partner. Johnson says her theme is a centerpiece. “It anchors a lot of the emotion that happens in the film. There’s a simple repeating arpeggio that essentially allows a lot of flexibility, and I’m able to use her theme in a number of different ways.”

Listen the the theme below.


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