'Twin Peaks' Composer Reveals How He Created the Theme for David Lynch's Series

It all happened in a single session.

Nothing evokes the bizarre pathos of small-town American life such as composer Angelo Badalamenti's synthesizer-ladenTwin Peaks theme. "Love Theme," now a bona fide piece of pop culture, conjures an ominous mood along with images of impenetrable woods, tortured romance, and deadbeat dreams. 

Earlier this month, Death Waltz reissued the official Twin Peaks soundtrack on vinylIn a resurfaced video, Badalamenti gives a tour of the "beat-up" keyboard he and David Lynch used to create the haunting, dissonant chords. The composer reveals that they created the theme in a single session; Lynch verbalized the mood and provided resonant visuals, while Badalamenti responded in kind on his keyboard.

"We’re in a dark woods," Lynch told Badalamenti. "There’s a soft wind blowing through Sycamore trees. There’s a moon out, some animal sounds in the background. And you can hear the hoot of an owl. Just get me into that beautiful darkness."

As Badalamenti began playing, Lynch provided minimal tweaks to the dramatic narrative of the song: "Okay, Angelo, now we gotta make a change. From behind a tree, in the back of the woods, is this very lonely girl. Her name is Laura Palmer. I can see her. She’s walking toward the camera, she’s coming closer…."

Badalamenti began playing that familiar rise in pitch, a reprieve from the theme's nefarious overtones. Lynch insisted, "Just keep building it! Just keep building it! It's tearing my heart out!" Then, Lynch instructs Badalamenti​ to "go back into the dark woods."

As the session concluded, Lynch said, simply, "Don't do a thing, and don't change a single note. I see Twin Peaks."

Here's the Danish National Symphony Orchestra performing the piece.     

Your Comment


Man! That was something. Apart from music, he is a gifted narrator. Nice Post.

August 30, 2016 at 11:17PM

Arun Meegada
Moviemaker in the Making

That's amazing! What an artist Angelo is and narrator!

August 31, 2016 at 3:00AM, Edited August 31, 3:00AM

Mose Agestam
Videographer / Aerial photographer

One of the most brilliant pieces of music ever created.
Pure genius.

Not to mention Lynch's genius of 'verbal direction'.
I read somewhere, working with Julee Cruise, he used the phrase "blowing big chunks of plastic" to describe a sound he wanted.

What a treat to see Badalamenti narrating their session together.
Great find and post!

August 31, 2016 at 8:23AM

Richard Krall

Another interesting take on the theme, Nicolas Jaar used Badalamenti's video in the opening of his "BBC Essential Mix of the Year" in 2012: https://soundcloud.com/otherpeoplerecords/csp06-nicolas-jaar-essential

September 3, 2016 at 6:27AM