Composer Ludvig Göransson breaks down the intensive research process he went through to create a score based on what Mayan music could be for Black Panther 2. While making the first Black Panther, Ludwig Göransson traveled to Africa in search of different instruments and sounds.
Ludwig Goransson has created a truly unique musical identity for Wakanda, balancing a traditional superhero style with a score clearly inspired by authentic African music. Due to this, the musical personality of Black Panther and Wakanda became one of the most recognizable in the MCU.
In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Göransson will be able to play Taloka in a whole new corner of the MCU. During an exclusive interview with the website Screenrant, Göransson talked about finding the voice of Namor and the undersea kingdom of Talokan. The composer reveals the influence of Mayan culture and his journey to discover the sound of Mayan music, including the heartbreaking truth about what happened to Mayan music centuries ago.
Creating the voice of Namor and the Talokans is a whole new world, and we spend a lot of time with them. We spend a lot of time seeing their world for the first time. I talked to Ryan when I read the script and he told me that the story and characters were very inspired by Mayan culture. It inspired me a lot because I was able to travel to Mexico and Mesoamerica and start working.
I wanted to record Mayan music, but I quickly realized that it was gone. It was forcibly removed 500 years ago; no trace left. It is not known how the music was played; no partitions. There are no generations of musicians. Everything disappeared.
So I started working with music archaeologists in Mexico City who specialize in recreating certain instruments. They found some of these tools in some graves. They saw the codex, they saw the type of tools they used like sea shells and tortoise shells. We started writing and reimagining what the Mayan sound could be, which was the most exciting thing about creating Namor’s music.
Wakanda music sheds light on Mayan culture
Lüdvig Göansson’s commitment to extensive research has contributed significantly to his ability to compose such impressive scores. It is a tragedy that he discovers that he cannot find or hear the original Mayan music because all the recordings have been destroyed. Göransson’s work with music archaeologists is fascinating as they work together to recreate what ancient Mayan music might have sounded like.
This destruction of history and art can affect the music and potentially the story itself. Since Coogler was inspired by the indigenous peoples of Central and South America to create Talokan, the history of colonialism is likely embedded in the fictional nation’s DNA. This approximation of what Mayan music sounds like also brings a new layer to Göransson’s score, as he finds instruments that may have been used, but which had to completely reimagine what the music could be. The inclusion of seashells and tortoiseshells is doubly effective: it allows for the use of authentic instruments and takes account of Taloka’s underwater element.
In the MCU, Talokan is a nation hidden from the surface world, where Namor leads his people and partially protects them through isolation. Musically, Wakanda is a nation that was never colonized, while Taloka’s history is a little more obscure. Wakanda and Talokan mirror each other in many ways, including isolating each other to protect their resources and way of life. Whether the nation’s isolation is due to escaping colonization or being targeted in the past, the integration of lost music into the hidden city theme brings new depth to the black panther 2 score.