Taking notes


While you're watching NBC's "Deal or No Deal," the music is having more than a subtle impact on your emotions, starting low and slowly building to a crescendo as briefcase decisions are being made and the tension is rising. And that's where Dain Blair and his company Groove Addicts come in, making sure that the visual action onscreen is being matched by the audio rhythms ricocheting around the contestants.

In tandem with composers Brad Chiet and Tony Phillips, Blair -- as Groove Addicts' founder and creative director -- uses music to mirror the suspense.

"Our marching orders initially were to come up with something that pushes forward the intensity without sounding too much like a game show, and certainly not like (ABC's) 'Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,'" Blair recalls. "It's evolved some from the beginning, but the basic sound remains the same: Start low key and build."

Driving the intensity means adding percussion to the aural mix, followed by horns and timpani, followed by more horns, Chiet notes. It sounds basic and simple to ratchet up the excitement factor, he says, but in truth it's a lot more complex than it might seem.

"Just coming up with the right sound for the 'Model March' took a lot of trial and error," he says. "We design everything from scratch, including the sound that accompanies the flipping of the money board. The producers take what we do pretty seriously, because sound is such an important part of the experience and drama."

It would be easier to match music to the show's production if his company received the raw footage in advance, Blair admits. But that isn't the way it works. "We work simultaneously with them and insert the sound as we go along," he says. "From our perspective, it's like telling a story on the fly."

Groove Addicts also has supplied music for another Endemol USA property, ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," and works on everything from national commercial campaigns and documentaries to video games. It also was recently hired to work on the forthcoming season of ABC's "Supernanny."

"Every project has a unique character and sound that distinguishes it from the crowd," Blair adds. "Our job is to figure out what that is. And in the case of 'Deal or No Deal,' it's about keeping the tension level high while sometimes tempering it with a little bit of fun, too."