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"From Wang-Wang to Bouzouki "
Kevin Edelman & Alexandra Patsavas

Music supervisors Alex Patsavas and Kevin Edelman make sure the sounds of Carnivàle go well beyond the greatest hits.

HBO: What's the process for choosing music on a show like Carnivale?

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: We're given a lot of directives as far as what the creators want to accomplish with the music. And then we might come up with three or four options. Then, getting to the song that's actually picked, it's quite a long process.

KEVIN EDELMAN: We have ideas that we bring in and present. The producers are usually very receptive, and then they also have their own ideas from the beginning about what they would like to accomplish using music. It's kind of a team effort between us and the composer to accomplish that, using songs and underscore.

HBO: With Carnivale, you have this big, sweeping, epic story. How do you get started--did you sit down and try to immerse yourself in it?

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: Well, this has been a really wonderful, unique challenge, because almost all the source music we're using in the show is pre-1934, which is when the story takes place, so we're able to delve into the world of the twenties and the early thirties, and really make ourselves familiar with the more obscure and the more popular songs of the time. From blues and folk and pop and big band, and...

KEVIN EDELMAN:...Ethnic as well. As music supervisors and creative people, it's been a unique opportunity to work in an era that we typically don't get a chance to work in. Television projects-- and film projects, for that matter-aren't usually period pieces. There was a lot of research involved.

This show presents a lot of opportunities for us to stretch musically--everything from the radio pop music of the thirties to Rembetika music from Istanbul

HBO: Could you give us a taste of what some of the music you're talking about? You'd mentioned, ethnic, blues, and jazz...

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: We're using some Cab Calloway; we're using a female crooner of the era, Annette Hanshaw, with a song called You Wouldn't Fool Me, Would You? We're licensing some Rembetika music from Istanbul, which was recorded in the late 20s. Wang-Wang blues by Fletcher Henderson. A lot of jazz. So, we're really being able to use a lot of different things.

KEVIN EDELMAN: We're running the gamut of the music of the era, really, and this show presents a lot of opportunities for us to stretch musically, from everything from the radio pop music of the time to some of this ethnic music that Alex was just mentioning.

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS:...Mildred Bailey...

KEVIN EDELMAN: Yeah. A lot of the pop jazz of the time seems to fit the show, but then also the blues and, occasionally, some of the traditional folk music of the era.

HBO: How does the Istanbul music fit?

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: One of the characters has a great interest in international music, and so we've been able to bring that to life with some different music choices.

KEVIN EDELMAN: In some ways each of the characters has its own musical voice. Not specifically, but we tried to help...

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS:...define the character.

KEVIN EDELMAN: Yeah, we try to help define the characters with a musical taste or a musical flavor. You know, some of the characters tend to listen more to European classical music, and others might be more inclined to put on a popular jazz record. So it really helps the audience to understand the character a little bit better when they can see a little bit of what makes them tick.

HBO: Could you give us an example of a character that you think is defined by their music?


KEVIN EDELMAN: The music that we use in a lot of scenes with Lodz tends to be kind of stately, you know, European classical.

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: And he listens to opera.

HBO: Who plays the pop music?

KEVIN EDELMAN: We also tend to use more of the pop music when the carnival's in the cities. Whereas when the carnival is traveling through the dustbowl, and they are in more remote towns, there might be more blues, more folk, and some more ethnic music playing.

HBO: Does music have a big part in this show, compared to other projects you've worked on?

KEVIN EDELMAN: I think in general, it has a, a bigger role than it would on most television shows. It's a part of what makes it feel authentic.

We try to help define the characters with a musical taste or a musical flavor. It really helps the audience to understand the character when they can see a little bit of what makes them tick.

HBO: Can you think of a music moment in this season that you're especially proud of?

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: I love Love Me or Leave Me. By Ruth Etting.

KEVIN EDELMAN: Yeah, that is great. That's actually a defining song that's used in two episodes.

HBO: How is it defining?

KEVIN EDELMAN: It's tied thematically with Brother Justin, and with several other characters. It really worked for the mood and the themes that they were trying to bring out in these characters and in these particular scenes. It's used in a somewhat eerie, nostalgic kind of way, and reprised in that way as well, so it is a very interesting use of a song.

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: It's been really challenging as well as rewarding to find unknown songs. We haven't just gone for the top three songs of every year, pre-'34; we've been able to find the Bouzouki music of by Rita Abadzi or things that are a little less-known and that still really go well in the episodes.

HBO: Do you have to go out of your way to avoid the cliches of '30s music?

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: Absolutely. Of course, some of those are valid, too, in certain situations. You just don't want to turn it into the greatest hits of 1934.

KEVIN EDELMAN: Yeah, and it was actually something that the producers had a mandate about.

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: We would certainly use, say, Bing Crosby, who was huge, and was certainly representative of the time.

KEVIN EDELMAN: You can't ignore that there were the radio the pop radio stars at the time, because that would be inauthentic as well. We try to place the music where it felt appropriate to help build characters, and to help define a character's taste in music. With the carnies, for example, it wouldn't be all radio pop music.

ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS: Right, cause it does take place in the Dustbowl. So you'd hear certain regional music, for example. That's why this project is so interesting - we've really been able to dig deeper into the catalogs.

Daniel Knauf
- Carnivàle Creator

Rodrigo Garcia
- Carnivàle Director

Mary Corey
- Historical Consulant

Casting Directors

Co-Executive Producers

Music Supervisors

Sara Ingrassia
- Set Decorator

Howard Klein
- Executive Producer

William Schmidt
- Supervising Producer

Jeff Beal
- Composer

Michael J. Anderson

Clancy Brown

Amy Madigan

Carnivale Features

Carnival Fact

Sideshow performer Stanley Berent, A.K.A. Sealo the Seal Boy, was afflicted with phocomelia, which caused his hands to grow directly from his shoulders.
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