Yellowstone and 1883 composer Breton Vivian on linking shows through music while striving to make each score unique – Below the line

Luke Grimes and Kevin Costner in Yellowstone/Primal Network

Breton Viviane had worked with Brian Tyler for a number of years as a composer’s assistant, but now he works with Tyler as an equal for a pair of Taylor Sheridan series – Yellowstone and 1883.

Yellowstone is Paramount’s flagship streaming series and one of many that Sheridan has aired or is in the works. The show has grown in popularity due to the pandemic, leading the fourth season to garner its highest ratings yet. Even though Peacock has Yellowstoneall new spin-offs will stream exclusively on Paramount+, starting with Season 1 of 1883which takes audiences back to when the Dutton family first moved west to Tennessee and came to settle in what the public knows as Yellowstone Ranch in Montana.

under the line recently spoke to Vivian, who discussed the rating process, her favorite track, and some of the challenges resulting from the pandemic. The big thing for the 1883 score is that they had to create something new while honoring the above in the score first developed for Yellowstone.

Breton Viviane

Image by Breton Vivian via Paramount+

Under the line: 1883 is the first Yellowstone derivative series. When it came to scoring the show, what were you and Brian Tyler looking to do with the show?

Viviane Breton: With 1883because it was a prequel to a series that was already well established, I think what we wanted to do was kind of honor the musical language that was already set up and established with Yellowstone. But this time, do something different while honoring it. A lot of it kind of followed the guideline of the score that we had established before, drawing inspiration from the musical language of immigrants who were settling in America but going back earlier in history and crossing it from that angle .

BTL: How were you trying to differentiate the score from Yellowstone?

Vivian: I think one of them was really to set up a new theme for the show, but also to honor the little intimate themes because it’s a very character-driven show. There was kind of a balance between honoring the very intimate, character-driven scenes, and then also playing into the larger sense of the more cinematic scope of the narrative, and the beautiful shots of America at that time.


Sam Elliott in 1883/Primary+

BTL: What was the rating process 1883 — did you start with the scripts and work from there, or did you start working from a rough cut?

Vivian: We started with the scripts at this point. We were doing a lot of writing big sequels for the show and sending it to Taylor. Taylor was also playing in some of the cast members as they were getting ready for a scene and things like that, so they definitely started at the script stage. As we start getting episode cuts we will see that some of the music that we sent in is being edited into the cuts of the show and so that really helped us understand what the music should be and where it’s going.

BTL: Is there a track that you really enjoyed composing in either series?

Vivian: For 1883, I loved “Requiem”. The coin comes when you first meet Sam Elliot. It’s really an important moment because the guy has just lost his family and he is about to burn down his house. It’s a real moment where Taylor really set the scene for the music to really be front and center. It was such a beautiful scene to have the opportunity to score.


Isabelle May in 1883/Primary+

BTL: What kind of challenges were there because of the pandemic?

Vivian: I think there was definitely a bit of a challenge to record and organize recordings of musicians. I think today with things going online, the internet being a lot faster, you can easily send things back and forth and do recording sessions through livestream type things. I think in a way it was harder, but also, we were lucky to have the technology to be able to make it easier regardless.

BTL: Westerns sometimes feel like a dying breed, but every once in a while it feels like they’re making a comeback. What do you enjoy about working in the genre?

Vivian: Yes it does. Yeah, I think for both Yellowstone and 1883, I really like that kind of reality of what that era was like and trying to head west rather than seeing how raw and brutal it can be. But also, when there are moments with Taylor’s amazing writing, those beautiful moments with the western characters and in that kind of backdrop that you have with the show.


Kelly Reilly in Yellowstone/Primal Network

BTL: Did you all get a lot of direction from Taylor Sheridan?

Vivian: Yeah absolutely. There’s definitely a direction as to where he wants the show to go. He [also] gives us a lot of room to interpret it and do whatever we want with the music. It’s really nice to have that kind of trust from someone and to be able to really explore what you can do for the show.

BTL: How did you get interested in composition?

Vivian: Growing up, I was in a lot of bands. I was a guitarist and played in hardcore bands and metal bands. For a while it was my thing. Basically, I’ve always loved classical music and film music. Eventually I became more and more obsessed with film music and classical music that I naturally gravitated towards that direction and eventually quit playing in bands and decided to pursue a career in film.

BTL: In terms of film music, what are your influences?

Vivian: I think this is going to be a boring answer but the OG for me was John Williamsespecially his score for star wars, [which] was such a big part of my childhood growing up. I remember listening to the score and remembering the scenes played in the film. It was a way to relive the film without physically watching it. You just relive it through music.

BTL: You can’t go wrong with John Williams!

Vivian: Yes exactly.


Tim McGraw in 1883/Primary+

BTL: Sometimes when people call me, I don’t want to pick up my phone because I have the star wars theme song for ringtone and i just want to keep listening.

Vivian: [laughs] Yeah, [exactly].

BTL: As Brian Tyler’s assistant composer for several years, what was the most valuable piece of advice you received from him?

Vivian: Before working for him, I had never been part of such a large production [or] part of a team where you have to deliver a large amount of points in a certain amount of time. I think I learned a lot about the process and how to get things done – [how] do it efficiently and do a good job. I think a lot [about] do it this way. A lot of things he does, I do now, so it’s good to have that experience.

BTL: How is it different to work with him this time on an equal footing?

Vivian: I think it was great. When he brought me on Yellowstone, he already knew how I write and my musical tastes. When it arrived, it kind of felt like a perfect match, really. I do a lot of recordings of myself playing guitar or some other instrument. That’s kind of what he does too so I think it kind of gelled well for the project.

All four seasons of Yellowstone are currently available on Peacock, while 1883 Season 1 is now streaming on Paramount+.