How Film Composer Dan Romer Struck A Chord With ‘Beasts Of No Nation’

EXCLUSIVE: Grammy winning composer Dan Romer provides the eclectic, ambient score for Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation, directed by Emmy winner Cary Fukunaga (True Detective). Starring Idris Elba and newcomer Abraham Attah, the film is based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, centering on the young Agu (Attah), a child soldier tragically separated from his family and forced to join a band of rebels in the civil war of an African country led by Commandant (Elba) who takes in Agu under his wing.

In the featurette, Romer speaks on his approach the score, mixing various ambiguous instruments, like a drum kit made out of stringed instruments, to create a contained musical world that oscillates between themes of innocence, confusion, and terror. “Having that kind of sound for the score makes it feel more ambiguous, and the journey that all the characters takes is a fairly ambiguous, anxious journey and I think that those kinds of sounds were what the film was asking for” says Romer. The composer manipulated sounds of submarine sonar, and the playing of wine glass rims incorporated with bode acoustic guitar, mellotron organ, and trombone. All of the percussion for the film was played on buckets or by beating string instruments with sticks.

Previously, Romer co-scored the music to the Oscar nominated film The Beasts of the Southern Wild with its director Benh Zeitlin.  He recently scored Joe Swanberg’s Digging for Fire, the documentary Finders Keepers, and Amazon’s Sneaky Pete, starring Bryan Cranston and Giovanni Ribisi.

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