Frankenstein, MD Theme – The Story Behind the Music

Filed in Behind the Scenes by on October 28, 2014 0 Comments

The follow story was lovingly borrowed from Sally’s website. Enjoy!


When I was asked to write the theme music for Frankenstein, MD, the task daunted me. I had to capture the tone and flavor of this unique and special show in mere seconds. On top of that, I felt an unbearable sense of obligation. I would be remiss in writing an ordinary theme. As a scientist as well as a composer, it was a moral imperative that I find a way to relate the music to science. Otherwise, I would be letting down my fellow girl-nerds everywhere!

After fruitlessly racking my brain for hours, inspiration struck at last. The source? An unlikely muse: the periodic table. You read that right.

As with all good science, it took some trial and error (I mean, a LOT of error), but eventually I found a winning combination of elements whose symbols spelled out “Frank MD”.

F Ra N K Md

Figure 1: Elements from the Periodic Table, their atomic weights, and their corresponding musical notes
Now, spelling out the name was just one part of generating the melody. Using the atomic weights of each element, I took those numerical values in Hz and calculated their equivalent frequency values as musical notes. Many combinations didn’t fit the show or simply did not work. But the combination of elements above, with some octave displacement, lead to an odd melody that felt right for the show.

Figure 2: Frankenstein, MD Theme Melody


Next, using this thematic material, I constructed supporting harmonies to convey the show’s whimsical, slightly dark, yet fun undertones. Some study of the great monster movie scores was involved. What a chore! 😉 The orchestration and sound design followed, selecting and voicing the instruments and mixing in sounds into what became the final piece of music. FYI, slightly muted medium-sized Taiko drums make for great heartbeats.

After all of this, with fingers crossed, I sent the demo off to the show creators. With great luck, they loved it! Phew. After a bit more spit and polish, the final theme music was laid into the show.

That’s it. Thanks for reading and enjoy the show!

– Sally Chou





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