(April 4, 2014– Los Angeles, CA) – Composer Michael Penn (BOOGIE NIGHTS, SUNSHINE CLEANING) has reached new heights in 2014, composing the music for two of the top TV series of the 2013-2014 season: HBO’s GIRLS and SHOWTIME’s MASTERS OF SEX.
MASTERS OF SEX is a period piece about the real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality, Masters and Johnson. One of the prominent sonic textures Penn uses throughout the score is a sample set of a 1940s Novachord – an early polyphonic tube synthesizer.
Said Penn, “Because Michael Sheen’s Dr. Masters character is so detached from his own feelings, I felt something of that clinical, otherworldly sound would be effective and interesting. In some ways, they were more sophisticated than instruments we have now. One thing they did, unique to them is, you can actually create a vibrato by wiggling the key under your finger, which is very tactile and not something any other keyboard can do in the same way. It uses old technology, but it’s much more connected to expression.”
Though GIRLS is more of a comedy, it also requires a great deal of dramatic music. “The nice thing about GIRLS is, they don’t want a typical sitcom score, with those transitional pieces and stings,” said Penn. “It’s more just finding little moments that underline the feeling, or something to get you from one feeling to the next. But then there are these opportunities for longer, more emotional pieces that I really love doing, where I can get more deeply into melody.”
This latest season of GIRLS called for Penn to re-visit his singer/songwriter days and to write a song for the season finale. Entitled “Good Girl Down”, the song was recently called “classic Penn: an intense build, a gorgeous release, and lyrics filled with wry twists worthy of Lennon-McCartney,” by Tim Malloy of TheWrap.com.
Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Michael Penn ventured into film scoring when he was asked by filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson to score the films HARD EIGHT and BOOGIE NIGHTS. Michael Penn’s debut album March launched him into international renown with it’s first single, top 10 modern rock hit “No Myth”. The brother of actors Sean Penn and Chris Penn and the eldest son of actor/director Leo Penn and actress Eileen Ryan, Michael Penn has released five albums as a singer/songwriter.
It was Paul Thomas Anderson who would lure Penn into film and television composing first with 1996’s HARD EIGHT and then with the 1998 film BOOGIE NIGHTS. Penn continued to be an independent film darling with his heartbreakingly honest scores to THE LAST KISS, Nanette Burnstein’s Sundance hit AMERICAN TEEN, SUNSHINE CLEANING (starring Amy Adams), THAT EVENING SUN (starring Hal Holbrook), THE COMEDIANS OF COMEDY (starring Patton Oswalt and Zach Galifianakis), and SOLITARY MAN (starring Michael Douglas).
The second season of MASTERS OF SEX is set to debut in July 2014. The fourth season of GIRLS will debut in January, 2015.