"Bella's Lullaby," as it appears in this film, was not written to be a lullaby but to speak of love - ecstatic, tormented love. Here's that story.
Years ago I was in love with an amazing and challenging woman named Christine Sciulli. She left me, I was heartbroken, and I wrote a piece of music that tried to express the thrill and pain of having my heart pierced. She wouldn't speak to me, so I sent her the music to speak in my place.
Years later (April 2008 to be exact) I came to Oregon to meet Catherine Hardwicke and see some of the film she was shooting, Twilight. She mentioned that the producing company, Summit Entertainment, had just requested that a new scene be added to the film. The scene existed in the novel but hadn't originally been part of the screenplay (films are not one-to-one translations of books). In this scene Edward would play piano for Bella. I wasn't officially working on the film at that point and they didn't know what Rob Pattinson (Edward) should play during the shoot. This is not an unusual situation - many films have an actor sitting at a keyboard, swaying back and forth, pretending to play music that was only written after the film has been shot and edited. This case was unusual in that Rob is a fine musician, and fully capable of playing the piano or probably any other instrument.
My concern, as a composer, is to make the film as a whole compelling, dramatic, emotional and cinematic. But in this case other extraneous concerns quickly started to pile on, all driven by the fans of the book. The piano scene was added because Summit realized fans wanted to hear Edward play the melody referred to as "Bella's Lullaby," and each of those fans has their own idea of the tune. Because I hadn't started writing yet there was a musical vacuum into which other music started to be pulled. Rob improvised a tune for the shoot. Matthew Bellamy, of Muse, sent in his idea of "Bella's Lullaby." And countless readers and musicians sent in their own ideas or posted them on the internet. None of this made my job easier.
When I finally began writing music for Twilight, in early July, I moved myself, my family and my studio from New York to Los Angeles to work more closely with Catherine and the editorial team - Nancy Richardson the film editor and Adam Smalley the music editor. I began the score with Bella and Edward, specifically the scene in which he carries her into the treetops. I wanted to capture the excitement but also the challenge of this love which spans barriers of time and species. The film had been edited so that the piano scene followed the treetops scene, and the whole montage had very little dialogue so it was a good canvas on which to paint Bella and Edward's love theme.
After trying many different approaches with mixed success I put the tune I wrote years ago for my ecstatic and tormented love against the picture and it seemed quite perfect. It has an "A" theme which is a bit ambiguous, like two people trying to find a common ground, climbing to a high, then tumbling down, and a "B" theme that is forthrightly joyful (at least as joyful as my music gets).
I showed it to Catherine Hardwicke and she found it "thrilling, exhiliarating." And so this unnamed tune became “Bella’s Lullaby.” It's worth noting, though, that neither Catherine nor I ever called it that. We always referred to this tune as the "Love Theme" and I think it makes much more sense if you think of it this way. It's more complex and emotional than any lullaby I've ever heard.
I started using this theme for Bella and Edward's relationahip as it develops in the film - starting from the biology class in which he first speaks to her. The more we lived with the "Love Theme" the more Catherine longed to reshoot the piano scene so that Rob's fingers would match the music. Summit Entertainment, who were paying for the film, would have to approve the cost of this.
I usually start writing at the piano and then move to computers where I can make a "demo" or "sketch" that sounds as if it were played by the actual instruments - in this case piano, strings, woodwinds, guitars and percussion. I always play these sketches for the director so he or she can picture the final sound of the score while I'm writing. Because Catherine needed Summit's approval for the reshoot we arranged to play the sketches for the Summit executives as well as the film's producers.
The executives assumed that since I've written 60 or more film scores (I don't know exactly) I must have been through that process before. But in fact I've never had to sit in a room and play my work for executives . Typically I work with the director and if anyone else is going to be involved I ask that they talk to the director, then the director talks to me. That way the film still reflects a singular point of view - that of the director - even though we all know it takes an army to make a film.
To our surprise, one of the executives wasn't in love with the "Love Theme." In particular he objected to the opening note of the melody, which he correctly noted is dissonant (the high note is a B flat, over A and B natural in the harmony). The dissonance is immediately resolved to a consonance, but he couldn't get the initial note out of his head. Music is enormously subjective: For Catherine and myself the tune was wonderfully romantic and moving. For him it was off-putting.
As a film composer it's nothing new to be asked to throw compositions away, or rewrite them. It happens all the time. However I felt this tune was one of the best I'd written, perfect for the film and the scene, and so I didn't take Summit's complaints very seriously. The wrinkle in this case was that Catherine wanted to reshoot the piano scene in about a week and she needed Summit to approve what Rob would play.
I had reached the end of my stay in L.A. and was packing up to go on a short vacation in Maine with my family (whom I hadn't seen much while I'd been writing), then back to New York to start the school year. The day before we left L.A. I started getting desparate calls from Catherine and producer Wyck Godfrey. They told me that Summit would not approve the reshoot with the current "Love Theme". Then the head of production at Summit called and confirmed that it was his call - the B flat was not acceptable - he would not "sign off on it." He said that the teenage girls that were the audience for the film would want something sweeter, simpler.
The beginning of the original melody http://www.carterburwell.com/midi/Twilight_MIDI/Twi_Lullaby_orig.mid
In his defense, I think part of the problem was that Catherine and I saw this as Bella and Edward's "Love Theme" whereas he saw it as "Bella's Lullaby." And indeed, for the 30 seconds during which Edward is playing piano it is the "Lullaby." But the theme also has to play the romance that drives the story, and I thought that was a much more important role.
There were other issues for me as well. The suggestion that teenage girls would want a sweet tune was somewhat condescending, and that was something I tried to avoid in this score. Also I don't believe it's possible to know how music will affect someone else, even though film composers claim to. The unpredicability is what makes it interesting (although I understand that's not what the investors want to hear). And can you imagine what it would be like - as it was occasionally on this project - trying to compose music to satisfy a director who's trying to satisfy a male executive who's trying to satisfy ten million teenage girls?
My equipment was packed up, I was getting on a plane to Maine, and suddenly they needed a new love theme in a matter of days. Everyone (other than me and my family) thought I should stay in L.A. I told the folks from Twilight that I'd understand if they hired another composer and got on the plane.
Once I landed in Maine I was a bit less upset and offered to try some variations on the "Love Theme", writing at night so it wouldn't interfere with my family's days. It turned out that removing the B flat also removed all the interest from the melody. Eventually I had 5 or 6 variations, ranging from vapid to acceptable, and I sent them to Catherine. I don't know how many she played for Summit. One was approved, and I put it on paper for Rob to play (which he did very well). Catherine and I tried to come up with a title for the piece that would more accurately convey its purpose, but Summit insisted it be called "Bella's Lullaby," and I'm happy to think of it as such. The opening piano melody is the original version I wrote so many years ago (I kept it in the movie despite Summit's objections), and the melody Rob plays toward the end is the variation that Summit approved. You will hear both peppered throughout the film. I comfort myself that the original tune predominates, because, for me, it's more memorable. Which one do you remember?
The beginning of the variation melody http://www.carterburwell.com/midi/Twilight_MIDI/Twi_Lullaby_var.mid
I should mention that Christine, the woman for whom I first wrote the melody years ago, is now my amazing and challenging wife. In my heart the tune will always be ours, but now it’s yours (and Bella and Edward's) as well.
I am currently listening all instrumental music used in Twilight. I love it