How Composer Brian Tyler Broke Western Conventions In His Score For ‘Yellowstone’ – Crew Call Podcast

Stephania Rosini

Brian Tyler was shaping up for a career in the Education field, studying for his Masters at Harvard University, but his love of music took over his soul and entire being. During his student days in Boston, if you were trying to find him on campus, you’re best bet was checking in the practice rooms at Harvard’s Cambridge campus or even the Berklee College of Music. Music was always with him, whether he was writing it, playing in an orchestra or being a session drummer with a band.

While in Boston, he composed a Requiem piece, a piece of music that would change his life.  Word about the composition floated West and Tyler soon received a phone call from motion picture composer agency Gorfaine-Schwartz. The rest is history.

“I can connect the dots from that piece I did early on, all the way to today,” says Tyler. Off the Requiem piece, Tyler landed an early composing gig on Bill Paxton’s feature directorial debut Frailty, which ultimately jettisoned him to scoring work on the Steven Spielberg produced Eagle Eye to Universal’s signature logo theme to Marvel movies Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3. 

“The line between fan and artist is a thin one,” says Tyler who also grew up on a diet of comic-books in addition to clef notes.

Tyler was tapped by co-creator Taylor Sheridan to pen the music to his 9-episode Paramount Network series Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner as a patriarch cattle rancher from a complex dynasty who is fending off the modern day forces encroaching on his land. Sheridan tasked Tyler with breaking free from Western musical tropes. First challenge: writing notes for a striking opening shot that entails Costner’s John Dutton mercy killing his beloved horse whose suffered a wretched accident.

After taking in Yellowstone, Tyler found inspiration in lullabies and mythology, and picked up his cello to create a main title theme sans double stops that “played as close to human” as possible. In fact, that was the composer motif throughout the score: include some less than perfect music to reflect the flaws of the series’ characters. Typically a composer writes a theme to a main title sequence. In this case, it was done in reverse as Sheridan and co-creator John Linson found inspiration in Tyler’s music.

Says Tyler, “Yellowstone is such a study in human tragedy and love, and how closely related they are. We live in the gray. Villains can be heroes, and heroes can be villains.”

Our Crew Call podcast with Tyler is below:


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