When Dan Harmon, the co-creator of Rick and Morty, calls you with the following demand, you just sort of have to wing it: “I need to know what a frog planet’s instruments would sound like.” In a newly released video, we learn that this is the life of composer Ryan Elder, the one guy doing the music on Rick and Morty. His job is full of such seemingly impossible demands.
“When these music requests come in for Rick and Morty, I never know what to expect,” Ryan Elder says at the start of the video, called “Music From Another Dimension” and produced by CNN’s Great Big Story. The video highlights some of these music requests, and they come directly from Dan Harmon himself.
Truly in the spirit of Rick and Morty, the video is riddled with product placements and alt-universe doppelgangers of Elder as the composer goes about his day hitting up the ATM, grabbing some donuts, and lounging by the pool. Meanwhile, he speaks directly to the camera, explaining how the music in several scenes from the show came to fruition.
Adult Swim’s most popular show, Rick and Morty began as a Back to the Future parody that exploded into a zany sci-fi animated series about a grandfather traveling across the universe and to alternate dimensions with his grandson — and sometimes the rest of their family. As such, the many sounds made across its infinite multiverse are often outlandish and literally alien.
When Elder scored the “alien bondage dream sequence” in “Lawnmower Dog,” he used a Gregorian chant as a “background element” and things just sort of came together.
For the alien band in “Get Schwifty” that gets annihilated, Elder had to “make it sound like they were playing instruments from another planet while using only instruments from Earth.” The way to pull it off was with an array of percussion instruments from around the world.
Elder’s favorite piece of music from Rick and Morty, however, is the song, “Goodbye Moonmen” that Jemaine Clement’s Fart sings in “Mortnight Run.” The song is, according to Elder, “kind of a David Bowie thing.”
Note that other insane requests from Dan Harmon include the following:
“It’s like an intergalactic race riot but it’s a love story.”
“I need a royal march for an insect species that thinks it’s koalas.”
Rick and Morty’s third season continues this Sunday at 11:30 p.m. Eastern on Adult Swim.