For Charlie Harper, the late composer played by Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men,” writing advertising jingles required nothing more than a piano and a couple of drinks. That’s a nice Malibu fantasy, but for serious composers like Sean Callery, music requires more dedication.
Nominated for his 13 th Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music for “Elementary,” Callery said he does a lot of mixing of the music on Sundays. “That’s just how the schedule rolls,” he said when reached by phone.
A year ago, as production was ramping up on the first season, Callery was told a little bit about the premise of the project: updating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective for the 21 st Century.
‘When [the producers] talk about Sherlock Holmes, that’s a very rich, iconic figure. Then they say ‘Well, it’s going to be set in modern-day New York,’ which conjures up all kinds of interesting possibilities: what kind of sound, what kind of energy the series might have,” Callery explained.
The composer then read the script: “Holmes for me, as a kid, he was sort of like a superhero. His powers were the powers of perception and deduction. I was really thinking how when Holmes walked into a room or met a person, he was making all kinds of simultaneous observations about the subject or the room or the thing in front of him.”
Musically speaking, the closest thing to the Sherlock Holmes thought process for Callery was classical music.
“Classical music often had many voices, independent voices-in particularly baroque music that would be playing the same melody, but three, four, or five lines are playing simultaneously,” he said. “I began to think about that as a possibility: some classical baroque instrumentation combined with some modern sonority. This being New York and modern day might be an interesting spear into the forest, if you will. A shot in the dark.”
“Elementary” follows the adventures of a modern-day Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) who was a former consultant to Scotland Yard. After a stint in rehab, Holmes lands in Manhattan under the watchful eye of Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu).
Like Holmes, a composer may be working on a musical problem all the time-even in the background,
“I read this story about two years ago about the first firefighter that created a firewall to stop fires from spreading into houses. They were running up a hill, the fire was overtaking them. He turned around and burned a line ahead of him. He had never been taught to do that, he had never been instructed to do that. He somehow found the solution to saving his life through some sort of intuition,” Callery said.
The 2013 Emmy Awards will be handed out in September close to Callery’s birthday. “[An Emmy] would be a very nice birthday gift, but I certainly don’t expect it,” he said, laughing.
The 65 th Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET on 09/22/2013 on CBS.