Catherine Keener

The musical minds behind 'Serial,' 'S-Town' and 'Radiolab' push a new art form: the podcast score

The musical minds behind 'Serial,' 'S-Town' and 'Radiolab' push a new art form: the podcast score

If you were among the 175 million people who downloaded “Serial,” the true-crime podcast phenomenon that went on to win a Peabody Award, the plinking piano chords in its theme song are probably still ringing in your head — musical glue that helped bond the riveting murder mystery.

“I just knocked it out in a weekend,” said composer Nick Thorburn, an indie rocker from British Columbia, Canada. “I didn’t think much of it.”

Thorburn may not have overthought it, but his composition soaked into pop culture the way a recognizable TV theme or hit song might. As podcasts grow in popularity and ambition, they’re proving an exciting laboratory for original music, essentially creating...

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