Official paratexts usually serve a straightforward function: per Jonathan Gray (2010), they can hype a new work, provide legitimacy to authorial perspectives on the creative process, demystify the production process, or reinforce connections between viewers and the official realm of media industries. It is rare that an official paratext such as a DVD extra creates an emotional impact (aside from frustration), as they usually aim to inform rather than move us. This is why I find this clip of Angelo Badalamenti so compelling.
On one level, it works like many behind-the-scenes paratexts, informing dedicated viewers about the process that went into creating a beloved media text. We learn about the origins of Twin Peaks’ (ABC, 1990–1991) iconic musical score, hearing Badalamenti tell the tale of his collaboration with David Lynch to create some of the program’s central musical themes. Intellectually, this is interesting because we learn that, unlike the vast majority of film and television production, the score preceded the filming of the series, at least by Badalamenti’s account. But this paratext resonates with me much more on the affective dimension than the informational one. I have watched this clip many times not just to be reminded of his composition process, but to experience it. It is Badalamenti’s performance, both of the music and his recounting of his conversation with Lynch, that makes the clip so memorable. We feel as if we are there in the originary moment, with Lynch evoking the imagery that we viewers know well and Badalamenti composing the score seemingly before our ears. Badalamenti captures a pleasure of discovery that transcends the typical behind-the-scenes facts to genuinely convey the magical spark of creativity that makes us love a text like Twin Peaks.
Of course this paratext has a secret weapon that most other making-of clips lack: music. Badalamenti’s score is so emotionally affective that we cannot help but be swept into the mystery, suspense, and revelation that he expresses musically. Even though my experience of this paratext is primarily affective, it does truly change how I understand Twin Peaks: its lasting legacy is tied to the program’s uncanny ability to simultaneously be ironic and sincere. Listening to Badalamenti reveals how much of Twin Peaks’ sincerity comes from his music, creating an emotional resonance that is deepened by learning of its almost mystical creative origination.
Work Cited: Jonathan Gray, Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts (New York: NYU Press, 2010).