Composers Amin Bhatia and Ari Posner rely on a long-term professional partnership to score Netflix’s Anne of Green Gables adaptation Anne with an E.
Composers Amin Bhatia and Ari Posner received the great fortune of composing for the Netflix series Anne with an E. Otherwise known as “Dark Anne,” according to Bhatia. Those familiar with the celebrated 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery need not worry. The heart of the original novel remains in tact, and it still offers tremendous pleasures for younger audiences. It simply highlights themes of prejudice and bullying that resonate more with modern audiences. As a result, Bhatia and Posner’s score needed to reflect those sensibilities as well.
“Functionally, it broke down to one of two things we either had to do. We had to either portray the landscape and the beauty of the traveling scenes and create a musical tapestry that supports that beauty,” Amin Bhatia explained. “Other times, we’re playing an emotion of a particular character or internal feeling a character grapples with.”
Based on the finished product and critical approval, Bhatia and Posner achieved what they set out to do. Their gorgeous score immediately orients audiences into the physical and mental landscape of the material. So much so, in fact, that it would be difficult for the Television Academy to ignore their sonic success.
A Decade of Collaborating Composers
Amin Bhatia and Ari Posner started their collaboration over ten years ago. Bhatia’s workload became so expansive that he found himself working on two projects simultaneously. Posner came highly recommended by another composer. The rest is composing history.
“We overlap a little bit in our musical abilities, and we also can cover different areas of music,” Bhatia explained. “Between the two of us, we can cover a pretty wide range. Fifteen years later, we’re still getting along!”
As the younger composer, Posner was really just developing his career when partnered with Bhatia. The partnership developed into a fantastic learning opportunity for Posner. He developed a skill set with developing music on computers, something with which Bhatia already had a significant amount of experience.
It isn’t easy to compose using computers without the final product sounding too electronic. Posner found Bhatia’s skill in this area produced music that sounded as if it developed from a full orchestra.
“He just had a terrific musicality and the skill to make the machines live and breathe,” Posner said. “So, that’s where I learned a lot from him. Plus, I come from a jazz background, and I brought a lot of that into the partnership.”
Therefore, the fusion of electronic scoring, jazz influences, and a willingness to challenge each other creatively makes for a fruitful and highly successful working relationship.
Creating the Score for Netflix’s Anne with an E
Posner and Bhatia hail from Canada, so they were familiar with Anne with an E’s original source material. Given proximity to Prince Edward Island where the original novel is set, Posner visited the location and the museum. The team translated their familiarity of the material into a lush score that perfectly accentuates the series’s new approach.
“It’s just a wonderful show. It’s very inspiring when you see a great story and great performances. Great photography and editing,” Bhatia said. “We knew right away this was something wonderful, and it was relatively easy to start coming up with music for this. We knew what we had to do with the score, and the producers had a very clear vision of what they wanted.”
The producing team led by Miranda de Pencier knew the style, sound, and quantity of music required for Anne with an E. During the initial edit, the creative team selected temp scores that helped Bhatia and Posner sonically orient themselves within the world further.
Those initial temp score selections proved a positive influence. Producers often become married to temp scores that feature the wrong style for the piece. As a result, it becomes extremely challenging for composers to develop material on their own.
“The show has a lot of sadness in it – as they like to call it ‘melancholy.’ It delves into the universal theme of not being accepted or just being alone,” Posner explained. “It’s heavy stuff. A lot of the score is done with piano and three fiddles and maybe a little tin whistle and some cello. There are some big Hollywood-type orchestral cues, but that’s not the norm in the score.”
Relying on classic instruments to create Anne‘s sonic tapestry helps set the mood for this darker, more modern take on the source novel. As a a result, Bhatia and Posner created a timeless score that evokes the proper emotions for such a classic story.
Anne with an E currently streams on Netflix.