Since the premiere of Isono last year September, you might have heard some tunes throughout the episodes and if you are a lover of music, like us, you might have wondered who is behind the music selection of your favourite Drama. With our first installment of #BehindTheMusic (a series exploring the musical side of the Film & TV industry as well as the arty side of music artwork/covers, posters, photoshoots, artwork in music videos, etc) we get to dissect the magic of marrying music with visuals.
Curators Mpho “37mph” Pholo and Manchester Mahapa are the masterminds behind the #IsonoBET soundtrack and they were generous enough to give us a sneak preview into what happens musically in the background.
Mpho “37mph” Pholo is the composer for the original score, character themes and the musical director for the live performances in the show. He has expanded on the themes per character, the sonic journey of Esther and Voice of Grace.
Manchester Mahapa curates the commercial music placement within the episodes themselves. “I have the easy job of plugging in the commercial music available of Ambitiouz Entertainment’s artists in scenes to enhance the cross over between the different worlds and adding to the authenticity of spaces like club Casanova, The Tavern and moments that focus on the emotion. This often helps to establish the setting, ensuring that viewers are immersed in the atmosphere of the different worlds that are meant to be transported between”.
Mpho further gave insight pertaining to the themes for each character; the songs that the characters sing on the show. In terms of the characters:
- Gabriel is highly meticulous, controlled and has an even temperament so in terms of his themes, I chose to use the “heartbeat” backbeat for most of his themes, and slow gradual rises. These best describe his internal dialogue.
- Mary is a strong woman who has unbelievable skeletons in her closet. She commands respect and when she shows her darker side she invokes fear. So I used bell tones to write her main melody as they create an ominous, calculating and manipulating tone that speaks to her character.
- Esther is a broken young woman dealing with a lot of issues. For her, I used a lot of chord progressions which invoke her feelings of insecurity, inner turmoil as well as showing that she’s talented and could possibly have a breakthrough.
- Jumaima is a sad woman who’s seen too much. Her themes sound like lullabies showing her mental state which has not developed since childhood.
- Simon is a cunning, manipulative just like her mother. So his themes are similar but not as deep as her mother.
“In terms of the original music which the characters perform on the show, their musical journeys start off very simple and I develop their lyrical content to a more definite sound. For instance, Esther begins her musical journey singing Amapiano, dabbles in Gospel, then she finds her sound eventually”, he adds. “The group Voice Of Grace are quite exciting as each member has a distinct story to tell”.
“My responsibility is providing the actors with an opportunity to internalize the music before we go on set to film. That way their performances are always authentic to themselves. For the production, it gives the director on set the assurance that the music performance is consistent on every take”, Mpho concludes.
Here’s a list of the songs (and artists) that you might have heard play on Isono:
- Love Letter
- Call your friends (Unreleased)
- Ekhaya (Unreleased)
- Emaweni (Unreleased)
- Price to pay
- Ugesi (radio edit)
- Buss a move
- I do