Creation of the music for “Black Panther: wakanda forevertook composer Ludwig Göransson to Mexico, Nigeria, London and back, and involved around 2,500 hours of recording.
“It was a more moving experience than ever on any project,” says the Swedish-born musician. Variety. Göransson won an Oscar for the first film ‘Black Panther’ and since then has also won two Emmys for ‘The Mandalorian’ and a pair of Grammys as songwriter and producer for Childish Gambino.
“Wakanda” was something else, however. Göransson and director Ryan Coogler are old friends (this is their fourth film together) and the composer had even read Coogler’s sequel script which was written for Chadwick Boseman to reprise his pre-death T’Challa character. tragedy of the actor in 2020.
The challenge, says Göransson, was to find a new sound for the African kingdom of Wakanda and its afflicted people while trying to imagine the sound of Prince Namor of Talokan’s underwater kingdom, whose origins lie in ancient Mayan civilization of Mexico.
Göransson consulted musical archaeologists and spent two weeks in Mexico City collaborating with Mexican musicians. He auditioned “hundreds of ancient instruments,” from clay flutes to unusual percussion instruments, and saw paintings of Mayans playing on turtle shells, among dozens of similar moments of musical inspiration. He discovered the “Flute of Truth”, a high-pitched wind instrument resembling a whistle, and vowed to incorporate the “Whistle of Death”, which has a sound resembling a human scream.
By day Göransson would record with Mexican musicians and by night he would record with Mexican singers and rappers. “I used the morning sessions to put together beats and songs that we would use later in the day with the artists,” the composer reports.
This turned out to be the start of what Göransson describes as an attempt “to create a complete and immersive sound and musical experience for the viewer” in which the songs and the score are intertwined throughout the film. Of the 16 songs in the film, Göransson co-wrote and produced 13 of them, including the final title song performed by Rhianna “Lift Me Up”.
During filming, the composer visited the set to oversee the musical aspects of T’Challa’s funeral procession, which features Senegalese singer Baaba Mal and talking drummer Massamba Diop, whose unique African sounds contributed. so crucial to the original “Black Panther”. score.
After filming wrapped, director Coogler accompanied Göransson to Lagos, Nigeria, for another two weeks to find and collaborate with African musicians, singers and rappers. “It’s a musical mecca for traditional and contemporary music,” says the composer. “The musicians brought in different instruments, different sounds, that we didn’t have in the first movie, that we could add to the spirit of Wakanda.
“In Mexico and Nigeria, we were creating music based on the script, the story and the conversations with Ryan,” adds Göransson. “When we got back to LA, it was time to put it together and see what worked. That was the challenge — and the fun part.
The kora, a West African stringed instrument that sounds like a lute or harp, has become a key part of the score, as have traditional African drums like the sabar and the djembe. Unusual flutes and shell sounds added to the evocative sounds of Talokan. And modern synthesizers feature in the theme for Shuri (Letitia Wright), the tech-savvy Wakandan princess who steps in the wake of her brother’s death and the threat to her country.
The composer spent over a year on the overall score and estimates that 250 musicians and singers were involved, including an 80-piece London orchestra, 40-voice choirs in London and Los Angeles, plus another choir of LA of 20 specialized voices. in Mesoamerican music.
And that’s not counting the many singers he has hired. “This score is very, very vocally driven,” Göransson points out. He asked Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems to lend his vocals to the songs and score; discovered Foudeqush and his “fantastic” voice in Mexico; and founds a community of Mayan rappers in the Yucatan whose end titles “Laayli’ kuxa’ano’one” are heard.
As for Rhianna’s “Lift Me Up,” that song started when Coogler and Göransson landed in Lagos. The composer had a musical idea, asked Coogler to write some lyrics, and a few months later Rhianna and Tems added their vocals to the mix.