Music is one of the most important elements in many movies. Even in those where her presence is only subtly felt, she helps set the stage for what is about to happen, as well as adding emotional depth to what is happening now. In some movies and shows more than others, music makes its presence felt. One of these series is Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, AMC+ beautifully filmed and played the initiation of the immortal universe. The horror-inspired romantic drama with a confirmed second season is filled with brilliant and brilliantly realized characters, but perhaps the best part is its amazing music.
There are two main classes of music in cinematic media: diegetic music and incidental music. Simply put, diegetic music is music the characters can hear, such as trumpets announcing the entrance of a king. Incidental music is that of which they are unaware, such as John Williams’ themes in star wars. Interview with the Vampire handles both forms with care and brilliance, making the music as important to the characters as it is to the viewers, even though they hear very different music.
Diegetic Music Essentializes Anne Rice’s Vampiric New Orleans
The narrative replaces the traditional time and setting of New Orleans in 1910. A city of spices, spirits and sounds, New Orleans is as famous for its music as it is for its donuts and gumbo. The narrative would be remiss to drop the music, so it fully embraces it. For example, in the wedding scene in episode 1, “In Throes of Croissant Wonder”, a jazz band plays the role of the protagonist and his brother tap dances. This not only serves to confirm the importance of music in the characters’ lives, but it’s a physical demonstration that Louis and Paul get along and work well together. This shows that Louis isn’t just paying lip service to his love for his brother.
This is true for the music that the characters directly experience, but also in metaphorical music. For example, Louis claims to hear drums as he transforms into a vampire, with the elements of war, rhythm, and music becoming a metaphor for his love and new self, a strange and misguided idea. well, foreshadowing what is to come. Her relationship with Lestat is described in musical terms in Episode 2, “…After the Ghosts of Your Old Self”, and her view of humanity and her newfound ability to read their minds also have musical implications.
From the start of the show, incidental music plays an important role. The title screen is accompanied by the sound of an orchestra tuning up. Heard everywhere from high school gymnasiums to concert halls, the vast majority of American watchers are familiar with the way it goes: a discordant mix that merges into a single shrill note. However, as the vampiric drama descends into chaos, so does its brief title screen, its resounding note only appearing briefly before fading back into discord. As the music sets the stage, it also plays into the characterizations and drama that unfolds onscreen.
This is just one example, but still, more are present. Leitmotifs, musical themes that accompany particular characters, are less about tones than about musical styles. Lestat is usually accompanied by baroque music. Pianos and string instruments are constantly at war in the scenes following Louis’ transformation, with “In Throes of Croissant Wonder” ending with a theme of mostly classically-inspired violins contrasting with the brass that define a large part of Louis’ life.
From funerals to weddings and everything in between, Interview with the Vampire uses music to create a living New Orleans. What’s more, however, he uses it to craft a story that’s just as informed by the music as the culture it shows on screen, blending fact and myth to the point of making the most fantastic part of the story no not the vampires, but the music. In this way, Interview with the Vampire truly makes his music a character.
Anne Rice’s interview with the vampire launches new episodes Sunday on AMC+.