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The story behind 'Transparent's Emmy-nominated theme song

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Amazon Studios

Amazon’s standout show Transparent was honored with 11 Emmy nominations on Thursday, and though most of them singled out the show’s tremendous acting and storytelling, its theme song, written by Dustin O’Halloran, nabbed a nod for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music.

“The music on this show plays this part that makes everybody feel safe,” O’Halloran tells EW from his home in Berlin. “It’s a sort of blanket around the show because the characters are spinning out, having confusion about their lives. The music represents the family bond between all of them and the love that they share.”

O’Halloran, a pianist and composer whose credits include Marie Antoinette and Like Crazy, had known Transparent creator Jill Soloway for years and said she approached him to work on the track. “Jill was listening a lot to my second album, Piano Solos Vol. 2, when she was writing the script,” he says. “That sound sort of welled into her subconscious as part of the show. We had breakfast in Berlin when she had just finished the pilot and she played me the pilot, but it was before she had the theme song.”

He had already worked on other bits of the score for the rest of the show, but according to O’Halloran, “It just seemed to make sense that I should do the theme.”

“When they sent me the main title clip, it’s a beautiful clip of this old nostalgic VHS footage,” he says. “They were trying a lot of different pieces of music, and it was actually the second piece I tried with those images. There’s a sense of nostalgia to the show — memories and family moments — and we wanted to capture that feeling.”

See all of EW’s Emmy coverage.

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