How Dan Deacon Collaborated With Rats To Make His Latest Film Score

Deacon's music for the documentary Rat Film is a pulsing electronic soundscape made, in part, by rats themselves. He explains how in this track-by-track breakdown of the score.

It's not unusual for film composers to make music out of organic sounds found in or related to the movie. Take Nathan Johnson's stunning Looper score which was built on a foundation of sampled clicks and pops that captured the film's steampunk creakiness. Or, more elementally, the typewriter rhythms Mark Mothersbaugh used for his Royal Tenenbaums score, emulating the film's anachronistic storytelling themes.

For Rat Film, a new documentary that explores Baltimore's complicated history (as told through the city's rat infestation), electronic artist Dan Deacon developed an elaborate system to get the rats themselves to make the music. Let's just say it's technical. But in this track-by-track breakdown, he explains just how he did it, the challenges of making music that's simultaneously uplifting and moody, and how he navigated seeming failure and happy accidents.


"At the onset of the project, [director] Theo [Anthony] asked me if I could make

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