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Tenet: our guide to Ludwig Göransson’s soundtrack

Our guide to the dramatic score to Christopher Nolan's science-fiction action film Tenet, which is predicted to receive a raft of nominations at the 2021 Oscars

Tenet

Who wrote the score for Tenet?

Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson composed the music for Tenet. He is best known for his work on the 2018 film Black Panther, which won him the Academy Award for Best Original Score. More recently, he created the score for Disney+’s Star Wars series, The Mandalorian

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Tenet‘s director Christopher Nolan’s most frequent musical collaborator is Hans Zimmer, who was unavailable during the period of post-production for Tenet as he was working on the score to Dune – an adaptation of the 1965 novel of the same name – which is set to be released in October 2021.

The score combines orchestral textures with heavy production and racing drumbeats, adding in samples throughout to add drama, such as heartbeats and heavy breathing.

There are moments in the score which seem to harken back to Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception, which he created in collaboration with director Christopher Nolan. He even uses the famous Inception horn to add drama and tension at critical moments within the plot.

It was Ludwig Göransson’s choice to add The Plan by American rapper Travis Scott as the theme song to the film, and Göransson supported Scott in the production process.

How does the music in Tenet reflect the plot and on-screen action?

Tenet is based around the concept of time travel, with an inversion of time and space. As a result, Ludwig Göransson implemented techniques of retrograde composition, which allowed melodies to sound the same when played forwards and backwards.

‘I recorded three percussionists playing the main rhythm of the theme, then I reversed the recording on my computer,’  Göransson told the NME. ‘I played this for the musicians and asked them to emulate the recording… so I recorded that and then reversed it again. The result of that is as close as you can get to the musicians sounding like they’re actually playing in reverse.’

How did Ludwig Göransson record the score for Tenet during lockdown?

The majority of the score had been recorded and completed before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe.

‘We were about 80% done with the score,’ Göransson told Soho House. ‘The only thing that it affected was that we had an orchestra session booked in… We just had to take a different approach and we decided to record every musician by themselves at their house.’

Is Ludwig Göransson’s score for Tenet nominated for an Oscar?

The nominations for the 2021 Oscars have not yet been announced. The ceremony was originally scheduled for 28 February 2021, but has been postponed to 25 April 2021.

The nominations for this year’s Academy Awards will be announced on 15 March 2021.

BBC Music Magazine named the score for Tenet as one of its predictions for the 2021 Academy Award for Best Original Score.

Can you buy the soundtrack to Tenet?

You can buy the original score to Tenet in vinyl form from the following outlets:

The soundtrack to Tenet is available in CD format from the following outlets:

You can buy the soundtrack of Tenet to download from the following outlets:

Where can you stream the soundtrack to Tenet online?

You can stream Ludwig Göransson’s score for Tenet on SpotifyDeezerYouTube Music and Apple Music.

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Watch the trailer for Tenet

Where to watch Tenet online

Tenet is currently available to rent and buy on Amazon Prime, YouTube Movies and Google Play.