So happy to be returning to the annual “Music and the Moving Image” conference (26–28 May) at New York University. The keynote speaker will be composer Kathryn Bostic, known for her work on award-winning films, TV, and live theater, including Emmy-nominated films Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir (2021) and Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (2019).
I’ll be presenting my paper “Music on the Brain: The Ehrlich–Derlatka Scoring of House M.D.” which continues my broad investigations into music and Sherlock Holmes including Sherlockian adaptations in film and television. Here’s the abstract:
A thorough psychological assessment of Dr. Gregory House, master diagnostician of the television show House, M.D., would have to acknowledge his strong attachment to music. Dr. House owns and plays a grand piano, collects vintage guitars and vinyl records, and demonstrates keen knowledge about a wide array of genres.Over the course of eight seasons (2004–2012), viewers had ample opportunity to recognize that House loves music as much as he loves anything. Music functions as muse, diversion, and a reflection of his brain at work. Yet existing literature on the series—both academic and popular—offers surprisingly little commentary on the music.One element in particular has been wholly ignored: the original music of Jon Ehrlich and Jason Derlatka, who were brought in after the pilot and scored the remaining 176 episodes.
This presentation investigates Ehrlich’s and Derlatka’s scoring as crucial to a shift that occurred between the pilot and second episode, moving away from a more omniscient perspective and focusing instead on House, a Sherlockian type who solves medical mysteries and becomes the gravitational center of the narrative. Exclusive interviews with Ehrlich (who provided access to recorded cues) contributes to critical analyses of two stand-out episodes: “Three Stories” and “Guardian Angels,” which garnered the composers an Emmy.” This study closes with a look at how the style of the Ehrlick-Derlatka scoring intersects with the musical styles of later Sherlockian updates on screen, particularly Sherlock (2010–2017) and Elementary (2012–2019).Find out more