Behind the Creation of Guiding Light’s New Theme!
Guiding Light fans have been treated to a new beginning for daytime’s longest-running soap thanks to the efforts of award-winning composers Danny Pelfrey and Rick Rhodes who teamed up to score the new title sequence. In case anyone’s counting, this marks the 10th new musical introduction in the storied history of the longest running daytime drama. Entitled "True Light," the theme debuted on the February 24, 2003 episode (West Coast) and February 25, 2003 episode (East Coast). Pelfrey and Rhodes have previously teamed up on projects for "Guiding Light," leading to their natural selection to reinvent the show's main title this time around.
Soapdom wanted to know what inspired the composers to create this particular piece of music this particular way. “The real inspiration for ‘True Light’ was the show itself,” admitted Danny Pelfrey. “Rick and I have created music for ‘Guiding Light’ over the years and it has been fascinating to watch the show unfold over time. The characters are complex and the plots have grown increasingly sophisticated. The music takes risks. Having been the composer for television dramas such as "American Dreams" and "Strong Medicine," I'm familiar with the unique emotional demands of composing for drama and ‘Guiding Light’ really pushes the envelope of daytime television. We wanted to create a theme that was dynamic, passionate and intimate, a theme that reflected the ‘true light’ of the show.”
According to Rick Rhodes, “We wanted to show the many textures of the show in a relatively short span (36 seconds). We musically illustrate sexuality and sensuality with the saxophone, romance and poignancy with the piano, power and urgency with the pounding drums -- all melded together as a ‘tapestry’ of moods and emotions that show us the true meaning of ‘Guiding Light’ -- interesting human stories that we all can relate to." What's more, Rhodes holds his composing partner in extremely high regard. "Danny is an amazing musician and composer. Working with him is a little bit of what I think heaven must be like. He has a great sense of melody and rhythm and a fantastic sense of humor, which I respect with all my heart.”
We next asked the composing duo how long the creative process took. “We worked on the theme for two weeks,” said Pelfrey. He went on to explain that designing a piece of music for a show is a give-and-take process. “You need to work in partnership with the creators and the editors. We worked with the music supervisor, Robyn Cutler, and the editor, Gary Deinstadt, who made ‘True Light’ more dynamic through the editing process.” The process even made its way all the way to the top brass. “The executive producer, John Conboy, is very involved in every aspect of the show and brought the idea of drums to the theme, giving the piece a driving rhythm that reflects the modernism of the show,” revealed Pelfrey. “The final version of the theme was a Gestalt of our own vision tempered by the experience and inspiration of the ‘Guiding Light’ team.”
Rhodes concurs that the final product was the result of a team effort. “The original version was much slower and had no pounding drums,” he said. “But all in all, John (Conboy) and the producers really liked the very first demo of the theme and were pretty much sold on it in its first rendition. It just took some special tweaking for it to become what it is now. Robyn Cutler and Gary Dienstadt did some amazing things with the editing of it and sort of held our hands during this process. It simply could have not been possible without their support, talent and friendship.”
Pelfrey and Rhodes produced the piece themselves, working in Pelfrey’s state-of-the-art music studio. “Keeping a studio state-of-the-art for television is very important and is a continual process of up-grading equipment and sounds,” he explained. “The equipment needs to be cutting edge in order for the producers to get the flexibility they need to make changes, and have the music reflect the current musical environment. Sounds change and evolve and so do musical styles and techniques. Shows like ‘Guiding Light’ need composers who can deliver the musicianship and sound quality their story-telling demands.”
Coincidentally, and as Pelfrey mentioned, he is also the composer and song producer for NBC 's hit television series "American Dreams," which stars Brittany Snow, who played Susan LeMay on "Guiding Light" from 1998-2001. Besides scoring the NBC show, Pelfrey produces the songs performed by the musical guests including: Nick Carter, Usher, Vanessa Carlton and Leann Rhimes. Additionally, he currently scores Lifetime's "Strong Medicine." Pelfrey was nominated for an Emmy for his dramatic underscore on an episode of "Felicity" and he received a Daytime Emmy Award as part of the musical team with Rhodes for "Guiding Light." Pelfrey has composed music for episodic shows, films and videogames including "Spin City," "That's Life," "Joseph: King of Dreams" and "Star Trek: Star Fleet Command III."
Rick Rhodes has been scoring for "Guiding Light" since 1991. He has received 5 Daytime Emmy nominations winning twice in 1996 and 1998 for his musical contribution to the show. An overall winner of six Daytime Emmy Awards for compositional work, Rhodes has scored other notable daytime dramas including "Santa Barbara," "As the World Turns" and "Another World." Rhodes has composed music for numerous episodic shows, films and specials including "Family Ties," "Judith Krantz' Secrets" and "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."
But getting a shot at an opening theme for “Guiding Light” was almost a dream come true for both musicians. “In the past 15 years, I have gone after probably 35 TV themes and lost them all to other composers,” admitted Rhodes. “God must have been smiling on Danny and me the day we received the ‘yes’ phone call from Robyn Cutler.”
“Whenever you work on a show, there are unexpected opportunities that arise,” said Pelfrey. “Doing the theme for ‘Guiding Light’ was one of those rare moments where everything comes together. To be a part of a show enjoyed by people the world over is astonishing. I'm very blessed. It turned out to be a happy coincidence that we got the theme since I am also the composer for ‘American Dreams’ which stars GL alum Brittany Snow.”
For Rhodes, the opportunity to put his mark on daytime’s longest-running soap is even more personal. “Guiding Light has been very special for me for many years....over 20, I guess. I used to be a fan of the show before I got my big break in TV with the show 'Santa Barbara' in the mid 1980's. I used to watch every single episode of GL and absolutely loved it. I loved the Bauers, the Spauldings and the Reardons. I especially loved Nola and Quinton McCord. We should bring them back and do some of those fantasies again. How about it, John???
“In the early 1990's I was asked to join the GL composers’ team,” Rhodes contined. “When Santa Barbara was canceled, I instantly became a staff composer for Another World, As the World Turns and Guiding Light. Danny and I did lots of music for these shows together in the 1990's. It has been a wonderful career...but.....it took a long time to actually get an opening theme. I figure, you never know what's lurking behind every corner in your life. This life is full of surprises.”
Sounds kind of like a soap opera, no? Soapdom thanks Pelfry and Rhodes for sharing their experience with us. We wish them continued success. To Soapdom’s Guiding Light fans, Pelfrey and Rhodes have a special message: “Thank you GL fans. We LOVE you!”
"Guiding Light" debuted as a radio serial on January 25, 1937 and graduated to television in June of 1952. Over the years, the show has utilized the talents of nearly 300 actors to play as many different characters during the show's evolution, and has been a platform for the careers of such stars as Kevin Bacon, Christopher Walken and Mira Sorvino.
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